Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails by Anthony Swofford
A Memoir

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Still, on the whole, Swofford does a reasonable job of portraying himself as the flawed-though-always-struggling-to-improve victim/beneficiary of his own success.
-Globe and Mail

Synopsis

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.

Now with the same unremitting intensity he brought to his first memoir, Swofford describes his search for identity, meaning, and a 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 disintegrate, leading him to pursue a 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.

When a son is in trouble he hopes to turn to his greatest source of wisdom and support: his father. But Swofford and his father didn't exactly have that kind of relationship. The key, he realized, was to confront the man-a philandering, once hard-drinking, now terminally ill Vietnam vet he had struggled hard to understand and even harder to love. The two stubborn, strong-willed war vets embarked on a series of RV trips that quickly became a kind of reckoning in which Swofford took his father to task for a lifetime of infidelities and abuse. For many years Swofford had considered combat the decisive test of a man's greatness. With the understanding that came from these trips and the fateful encounter that took him to a like-minded woman named Christa, Swofford began to understand that becoming a father himself might be the ultimate measure of his life.

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.

 

About Anthony Swofford

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Anthony Swofford served in a U.S. Marine Corps Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Scout-Sniper platoon during the Gulf War. After the war, he was educated at American River College; the University of California, Davis; and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has taught at the University of Iowa and Lewis and Clark College. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Harper's, Men's Journal, The Iowa Review, and other publications; his memoir Jarhead was a major New York Times bestseller, and the basis for the movie of the same name. A Michener-Copernicus Fellowship recipient, he lives in the Hudson Valley, in New York.
 
Published June 5, 2012 by Twelve. 280 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, War, History. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Elizabeth D. Samet on Jul 20 2012

Swofford is capable of telling stories with a sniper’s precision, but “Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails” hits wide of the mark.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Jun 25 2012

In these pages Mr. Swofford draws a piercing portrait of his brother, Jeff — an Army veteran and bodybuilder...

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Globe and Mail

Above average
Reviewed by Douglas Bell on Jul 09 2012

Still, on the whole, Swofford does a reasonable job of portraying himself as the flawed-though-always-struggling-to-improve victim/beneficiary of his own success.

Read Full Review of Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails:... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

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