Jarhead (book)

Jarhead is a 2003 Gulf War memoir by author and former U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford. After leaving military service, the author went on to college and earned a double master's degree in Fine Arts at the University of Iowa.

Official cover
AuthorAnthony Swofford
CountryUnited States
Publication date
March 4, 2003
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
956.7044/245 21
LC ClassDS79.74 .S96 2003


Jarhead recounts Swofford's enlistment and service in the United States Marine Corps during the Persian Gulf War, in which he served as a Scout Sniper Trainee with the Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines.

Like most of the troops stationed in the Middle East during the Gulf War, Swofford saw very little actual combat. Swofford's narrative focuses on the physical, mental and emotional struggles of the young Marines.[1]

One of the through lines of his first-person account involves the challenge of balancing the art and science and mind-set of the warrior with one's own basic sense of humanity. Swofford admits to a sense of disappointment, frustration and emptiness that comes in the wake of ultimately being cheated of any real combat experience by a war that, for many American Marines at least, has ended all too quickly after enduring many months of grinding, anticlimactic suspense. And yet there have been the numerous encounters with poignant, eerie tableaux of dead Iraqi soldiers who'd been killed so quickly where they sat so as to appear to have been deliberately posed, like store-display mannequins, in their final moments of life.

Film adaptationsEdit

The novel was adapted into a 2005 feature film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx, and Peter Sarsgaard. The screenplay was written by William Broyles Jr. and directed by Sam Mendes. Reviews were generally positive. Jarhead 2: Field of Fire is the sequel to the 2005 film, followed by Jarhead 3: The Siege.


  1. ^ Kakutani, Michiko (2003-02-19). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; A Warrior Haunted By Ghosts Of Battle." NYTimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-03-08.