2nd Quarter Outside Reading Book Review
Jarhead by Anthony Swofford. Scribner, 2003 Genre: Autobiography
Swofford is a 22 year old who can't find a college that will accept him so he enlists in the USMC like his father and grandfather before him. Due to his "intelligence" he is offered to take the most prestigious course in the USMC to become a Scout Sniper. The class starts with 60 and after 4 months of grueling training he is in the top 8. Paired with Troy, another of the top 8 they are quickly deployed to help fight among the mounting numbers in the Persian gulf as part of Op. Desert Shield. Swofford is stationed in the Gulf for 180 days before the U.S. goes to war with Iraq. During the 5, or for the 180 days he spends in Iraq Swofford never once fires his rifle. After finding out that the war was over and they were going home Swofford tells troy he never fired his rifle. Troy responds with "You can now". The whole company raises their guns into the air and unloads them. The book ends with the quote "A story. A man fires a rifle for many years. and he goes to war. And afterwards he comes home, and he sees that whatever else he may do with his life - build a house, love a woman, change his son's diaper - he will always remain a jarhead. And all the jarheads killing and dying, they will always be me. We are still in the desert."
"By turns profane and lyrical, swaggering and ruminative, ''Jarhead'' -- referring to the marines' ''high-and-tight'' haircuts, which make their heads look like jars -- is not only the most powerful memoir to emerge thus far from the last gulf war, but also a searing contribution to the literature of combat, a book that combines the black humor of ''Catch-22'' with the savagery of ''Full Metal Jacket'' and the visceral detail of ''The Things They Carried.''"(New York Times)
Swofford uses a humorous attitude to convey a serious message. In his book he writes very little about the horrors of '"his war" while putting much emphasis on the "stupid" mistakes and irony of his time in the Persian Gulf. An example of his comical description would be just about all of the dialogue, it's focus on the reality of war is displayed through crude humor. This is what gives the book it's easiness to read in my opinion. The dialogue breaks up the description of the brutality of the desert and allows the reader a slight chuckle here and there throughout the entire book. On several occasions while reading I found myself laughing over the passage I had just read which in my opinion makes a good book even better. "A story: A man fires a rifle for many years, and he goes to war. And afterward he turns the rifle in at the armory, and he believes he's finished with the rifle. But no matter what else he might do with his hands, love a woman, build a house, change his son's diaper; his hands remember the rifle." (1)
I feel as though Jarhead has given me a more accurate look into warfare of the late 20th century. His firsthand account of the average Marine changes my views on how warfare is conducted. Instead of the Rambo like warfare I've read in books before this I now see that not all warfare is as action packed as I had previously thought. It saddens me to find that Swofford has only written this book so I cannot continue to read his books although this book has driven me to find out more about "Modern" Warfare.