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Publisher's Summary

In his New York Times best-selling 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.S. Marines, or "jarheads", were sent to Saudi Arabia in 1990 for the first Gulf War, Anthony Swofford was there. 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.

©2003 Anthony Swofford (P)2003 Simon & Schuster Inc. All rights reserved. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division.

Critic Reviews

"A searing contribution to the literature of combat." (The New York Times)
"This book offers...the casual reader, an unflinching portrayal of the loneliness and brutality of modern warfare and sophisticated analyses of, and visceral reactions to, its politics." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Jarhead

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Candid view of a marine and modern war

I read the print version of this book and enjoyed it. It was refreshing to get a broad view, with good and bad, beyond the soundbites or agenda of other media. I was especially surprised at how open the author was about many personal aspects of marine life and life in the middle of a war. Also, I found it more thoughful and articulate that I initally suspected. I recommended it to a friend who has a son in the Marines to give him some flavor that he may not hear otherwise.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing - UPDATE: Still amazing

Intensely honest, honest in a way that you didn't think others thought inwardly the way you do, it's fanatically good. The movie is a travesty, a heartbreaking crime against this great autobiography.

2021 UPDATE: I've read this book and listened to the audible.com version several times now over the years since it's come out. In 2020/21, during COVID, this book has helped me greatly. It reveals and confirms that some of the hardest battles are fought in the mind and that you don't always win or come out with the answers you seek. That sometimes you're stuck in the middle of the middle. And I've often adopted the phrase, "The following is neither true nor false, but simply what I know." I find that phrase covers a lot of what I have to say at work. This book has also accomplished what so many war movies fail at: not promoting war. This is a point that Swofford makes in the book, that all war movies promote war by creating or reinforcing the hero narrative, covering over the rough, messy bad cake with sweet smooth frosting. But Jarhead makes you admit that these are real people, not simply characters, and that war can only make everything worse. And if they come back from war and extol war's benefits, they are either people who never fought or they are liars who risk America's reputation and more. America is currently in 2021 in a tough spot where we've created generations of veterans, many of whom invaded the capitol. And the American veteran has an identity crisis, loved and feared and pitied all in the span of a single news story. This book can help the average civilian understand the complexity of what it means to be a veteran, and what war does to good and smart people. It also talks about the hero narrative, the rewards showered onto the hero and the value those rewards really have.

I'll say that this book sparks a lot of introspection, or it did in me. Swofford hoped that his war effort, if nothing else, helped the Vietnam vet who they pulled onto that bus. But I'd venture that he helped many people. He helped me through a lot of my own dark times in my life. I'm not a veteran but I've fought as an intelligent person in a sometimes idiotic world, struggling with what it means to be in a family of veterans, what it means to serve or not, what is means to be a man, and how we should treat each other when everything around you is falling apart. It's also helped me to realize the impact you can have with the creative work you create. During COVID, my world has become so much worse while working in healthcare, and in some ways so much better with so many more opportunities for doing great things and interacting with great people. I've also experienced death and dying and ignorance and stupidity that makes me want to write my own book about this insane time. And when I have felt lost or bad, listening to this book has made me feel so much better, almost like I'm a part of his struggles or like there are other struggles that other people do, which suck, and so many my own struggles can suck and it's OK.

Anyway, I highly recommend this book. The movie is absolute garbage and a betrayal of what really happened in real life. Skip it and just listen to the book. I love Swofford's reading of this very honest, raw, personal and extremely creative autobiography.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

good, but rambling

hard to listen to, he starts rambling and you tune out, then you hear something interesting and need to rewind.
interesting though that almost everything in the movie was true.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good writing

Anthony Swofford should not have read his own book. That's my only problem with this book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Less than expected.

This book dragged. If you are looking for excitement keep looking. If you have been in the "Suck" you'll find a few moment where your personal reflections and experiences will make you laugh out loud. Other than that you'll listen to one man's view of his down time leading up to the war. The narrator is good for putting you to sleep that?s the best I can say.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Off to see the Wizard...

The author displays some serious mental instabilities and comes across like a poster child for deviant behavior. He compares killing to eroticism, something a serial killer might do. He fantasizes about raping and stealing.
Don't get the wrong idea about Marines from this book-the average Marine, me included, respect our Corps, country, and family. That being said: I am very disappointed in the attention this book has received; it is nauseating. Save your time and money.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Too much unnecessary profanity

Story is interesting and probably quite accurate, based on my years in the Marine Corps. The focus on sex and profanity is carried to the extreme of detracting from the Marine's experiences told in the book.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Psycho

Written as a Phych ward rehab project. I've been there and done that and this guy was over the edge before he ever walked into Basic.

His Gunny would have had him our on a "General Discharge for the Good of the Corps" before he'd been in 6 months.

It even sounds fake to me.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The movie is better than the book

You rarely hear about the film adaptation of a book being better than the book, but this is one of them. The problem with the book is that it is discombobulated being that he jumps from one story/area of his life to another without any respectable transition. It’s not boring, but it’s not a good book either.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant memior

This book is very relatable to the vet who served in a combat arms. We all have seen and read the bullshit propaganda like American sniper and lone survivor, but this story is deeper. It doesn't glamorize war, it doesn't glamorize the service member, it's the journey of a young man being conditioned to do one thing for many years and then being told that the war he was destined to fight in, was already won. The reality and psychological confusion that Anthony faces is a story that anyone who actually served will find greater meaning in