- When the last page has been turned, the reader has gained a small measure of understanding about what being a soldier is really like, but that is all.
I read Jarhead as a companion piece to Lt. Col. Jay Kopelman's From Baghdad With Love. Kopelman's book is about the humanising effect a puppy has on him after half a life-time immersed in the Marine Corps' ethic of "Don't feel; kill." Jarhead filled in the background beautifully -- as in "fully" and "beautifully written": the boy drawn to the Corps; what the training is designed to do and how it succeeds; the life of the warrior. And the warriors are different to you and me. The wonder is not that so many leave the services and have trouble adjusting to civilian life; the wonder is that anyone ever recovers.
Kopelman's book is recommended to all my doggy-loving friends, but be warned: it's not just about the dog. Swofford's book is -- well, I go with A. L. Kennedy: "A terrific memoir: intelligently self-aware, moving and considered."
Hmm, that applies to both.