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Anthony Swofford: Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails

The publication of Jarhead launched a new career for Anthony Swofford, earning him accolades for its gritty and unexpected portraits of the soldiers who fought in the Gulf War. It spawned a Hollywood movie. It made Swofford famous and wealthy. It also nearly killed him.

In Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails, Swofford describes his search for identity, meaning, and reconciliation with his dying father in the years after he returned from serving as a sniper in the Marines. Adjusting to life after war, he watched his older brother succumb to cancer and his first marriage crumble, leading him to pursue an excessive lifestyle in Manhattan that brought him to the brink of collapse. Consumed by drugs, drinking, expensive cars, and women, Swofford lost almost everything and everyone that mattered to him.

Elegantly weaving his family's past with his own present—nights of excess and sexual conquest, visits with injured war veterans, and a near-fatal car crash—Swofford casts a courageous, insistent eye on both his father and himself in order to make sense of what his military service meant, and to decide, after nearly ending it, what his life can and should become as a man, a veteran, and a father.

Anthony Swofford was born on Travis Air Force Base in 1970. He joined the Marines at age 18 and fought in the 1990-91 Gulf War with a scout/sniper platoon in the 2nd battalion of the 7th Marines. He left the marines in 1992 and held jobs in restaurants, banks, and shopping malls as well working a long stint as a union warehouseman. In 1999 he graduated from UC Davis with his BA in English and proceeded to graduate writing studies at the University of Iowa Writers‟ Workshop, where he was a Teaching Writing Fellow and later a Michener-Copernicus Fellow. His first book Jarhead, a memoir of his time in the marines, came out in the winter of 2003. A film adaptation directed by Sam Mendes was released in 2005. Exit A, his novel of military life in Japan during peace time, was published in 2007. He has taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and Lewis and Clark College. He is married to the photographer and writer Christa Parravani-Swofford.