Jarhead is a American biographical war drama film based on U. Jarhead chronicles Swofford's life story, as he is serving in the Gulf War period. Jarhead is the slang term used to refer to United States Marines. The film was released on November 4, , by Universal Pictures.
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Two months after his twentieth birthday, he was stationed near Riyadh awaiting the onset of Desert Storm, in what we now call the first Gulf War.
A decade after that, he enlisted in that alternative American boot camp, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, whose battle-hardened alumni include Raymond Carver and T Coraghessan Boyle. Seduced by the idea that 'the warrior always fights for a sorry cause. And if he lives, he tells stories', Swofford then got out his old desert maps and, armed with his newly drilled prose, set about recounting the tale of his war.
Swofford sifts through his old kit in his cellar, the combat clothes 'bleached by sand and sun and blemished with the petroleum rain that fell from the oil-well fires in Kuwait'. Though clearly written well before the current conflict became reality, the parallels in these recollections - directives that come from Bush and Cheney, the peace marchers proclaiming no war for oil - are no less uncanny for being familiar.
Swofford was born to the military. He had looked to the Marines as a surrogate family, and as a way of growing up, but the vicious reality of the life of a 'grunt' still comes as a great shock to him. The first casualty of Swofford's war is not truth but a personal voice; the most significant battle he wages in this memoir is to find a way to reappropriate it.
Partly because of this fascination with the authentic lexicon of modern warfare, the publishers of Jarhead - the title refers to the 'high and tight' crewcut favoured by Marines - would like you to believe that Swofford is part of a literary lineage that runs through Michael Herr and Norman Mailer and - highly fanciful this one - Wilfred Owen.
What undermines these comparisons is not so much Swofford's testosterone-injected writing, even though it lacks the free-spirited precision of, say, Herr's Dispatches, but rather his distance from the conflict. Though trained as part of his unit's elite sniper squad, Swofford never really gets to release a shot in anger, and the most serious threats to his safety come from friendly fire.
In the absence of this proximity - as one four hundred thousandth part of an American show of strength - Swofford directs much of his frustration at the dehumanising privations of life in the sand. Grim as the Saudi desert may be, it is not the Somme, nor the jungles of Vietnam, and the range of the sniper's emotions tends to run from self-aggrandisement to self-despair.
For much of his six-month tour of duty the person he seems most likely to shoot is himself. With too much time on his hands, Swofford comes to believe his girlfriend back home is enjoying the afternoon attentions of a hotel clerk she mentions in her letters.
This suspicion becomes so strong he puts the barrel of his M16 in his mouth and toys with the trigger. In this episode, and much of the remainder of the book, it feels like Swofford is playing the part of the soldier, at one remove from his emotions. He and his fellow grunts borrow much of their attitude from war movies. Raised on Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, which the recruits watch over and over before they leave for the combat zone, Swofford mouths the values of the Jarhead, as if reading the script: 'I want ammunition and alcohol and dope, I want to screw some whores and kill some Iraqi motherfuckers.
As a result, for all its show of honesty about the realities of battle, the anger at loss of life is never quite heartfelt, and the labyrinthine self-pity at the soldier's lot never quite earned. What this book brings home is that the modern soldier or, at least the modern American soldier, buttressed by overwhelming aerial firepower, is essentially a marginal figure. In the aftermath of a war he never really never got to fight, Swofford suggests that 'sometimes you wish you'd killed an Iraqi'.
His experience leaves him with a sense of anticlimax, of unfinished business, a hollowness that his government seems to have shared. Topics Biography books Writers on Iraq. Iraq reviews. Reuse this content. Most popular.
Two months after his twentieth birthday, he was stationed near Riyadh awaiting the onset of Desert Storm, in what we now call the first Gulf War. A decade after that, he enlisted in that alternative American boot camp, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, whose battle-hardened alumni include Raymond Carver and T Coraghessan Boyle. Seduced by the idea that 'the warrior always fights for a sorry cause. And if he lives, he tells stories', Swofford then got out his old desert maps and, armed with his newly drilled prose, set about recounting the tale of his war. Swofford sifts through his old kit in his cellar, the combat clothes 'bleached by sand and sun and blemished with the petroleum rain that fell from the oil-well fires in Kuwait'.
Jarhead : A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
In his New York Times bestselling chronicle of military life, Anthony Swofford weaves his experiences in war with vivid accounts of boot camp, reflections on the mythos of the marines, and remembrances of battles with lovers and family. When the U. He lived in sand for six months; he was punished by boredom and fear; he considered suicide, pulled a gun on a fellow marine, and was targeted by both enemy and friendly fire. As engagement with the Iraqis drew near, he was forced to consider what it means to be an American, a soldier, a son of a soldier, and a man. Get a FREE e-book by joining our mailing list today!
How Accurate Is Jarhead?
Anthony Swofford born August 12, is an American writer and former U. Marine , best known for his book Jarhead , based heavily on his accounts of various situations encountered in the Persian Gulf War. This memoir was the basis of the film of the same name , directed by Sam Mendes. Swofford was born on August 12, , in Fairfield, California , into a military family.
7 Things You Probably Never Knew About ‘Jarhead’
When the marines -- or "jarheads," as they call themselves -- were sent in to Saudi Arabia to fight the Iraqis, Swofford was there, with a hundred-pound pack on his shoulders and a sniper's rifle in his hands. It was one misery upon an. It was one misery upon another. He lived in sand for six months, his girlfriend back home betrayed him for a scrawny hotel clerk, he was punished by boredom and fear, he considered suicide, he pulled a gun on one of his fellow marines, and he was shot at by both Iraqis and Americans.