Book Report on Jarhead, by Anthony Swafford

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The novel "Jarhead," by Anthony Swafford is a first hand account of the Gulf War in early 1990. I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very honest account of his experience, and while he wasn't actually in any combat situations, it was fascinating to see what life was like overseas. Swafford also often incorporates stories and information from his home life, which shows the reader how he got to where he is today. I got the impression that he didn't have an amazing home life (his brother was incarcerated) and also, he felt somewhat pressured to uphold the family tradition of serving in the military. Most readers will be unfamiliar with the conditions in Saudi Arabia, so the author provides a lot of description for the desert, barracks, weaponry, and more. I had no prior knowledge of the military before reading this, and I understood mostly everything. A lot of the book is informative about the topic, but the author teaches the reader subtlety and sparsely. Sometimes he also incorporates the "teaching" into his train of thought, making it easier to follow. One chapter is even dedicated to "The Care and Cleaning of the M40A1 Rifle System and Optics. This fits well into the story, as the next chapter is about the long-term impact of war. He writes "The 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 and the power the rifle proffered." Another section dealing with this theme is when he writes, "Fergus knew we would always be jarheads. The sad truth is that when you're a jarhead, you're incapable of not being a jarhead, you are a symbol…" The experience of war has a strong effect on personality and life outlook. The author uses descriptive vocabulary very well. He often chooses unusual words to characterize his environment, which...
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