This is a 2-fer special since it is a review of a book and a movie though the subject matter is the same. We had watched the movie “Jarhead” on DVD basically because my husband is ex-marine and watches most military related movies. I had picked up the book on audio CD’s because we travel by car every week for business and we listen to a lot of books-on-tape since there isn’t a lot of great radio stations out in rural Kansas. This is the unabridged version of the book so I thought it would be interesting for my husband.
Let’s put it this way. If you are interested in this either read the book or watch the movie but whatever you do, do not, I repeat – do not buy the audio version of the book. Why do you ask? I will tell you. The author reads his own book and after about 30 minutes of listening to this man you want to throw it out the window or slit your own throat. Yes, he is that bad and that boring.
Why do some authors think that they know the work the best so only they can read it for an audience? Anthony Swofford just drones on and on with little to no inflection in his voice. This is why they usually have actors read the books, they can inject some liveliness into it and differentiate between the characters. That is sorely missing in his reading.
The book was 8 CD’s worth but we didn’t make it past 3 CD’s before we gave up on it. We just could not stand to listen to one more minute of him reading this book.
As a movie, it wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t say it is on my top ten list of best movies ever, but Jake Gyllenhaal does a great job of playing this very moody man, but then Gyllenhaal does that type of role best. It is a true story of the author’s stint as a Marine recruit and then as a sniper in the first Gulf War. He and his crews lives are dominated by endless tension, pointless exercises (like playing football in the scorching heat of the desert in their gas masks so it will look better for the media’s TV cameras), more training, and constant anticipation of the moment to come when they’ll finally get to kill. When the war does come, it moves too fast for Swofford’s sniper team, and the one chance they get at a kill–to do the one thing they’ve trained so hard and waited so long for–never happens, leaving them to wonder what was the point of all they went through.
Some reviewers say the book is better than the movie. I don’t know since I couldn’t finish the audiobook but based on what I heard, the book is very self centered with little or no actual interaction with the other Marines he served with, it is mostly his take on his life. His autobiographical style is not the best reading.
My recommendation is if you are interested in this story, watch the movie.