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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 20, 2004

UI Alum Swofford Reads From Gulf War Memoir Jan. 30

Anthony Swofford, an alumnus of the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, will read from his acclaimed Gulf-War memoir, "Jarhead," at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, in the Prairie Lights book store at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City.

"Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles" is the first Gulf-War memoir by a frontline infantry Marine -- the Marines refer to themselves as "jarheads," a reference to the military haircut.

Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times called the book "an irreverent but meditative voice that captures the juiced-up machismo of jarhead culture and the existential loneliness of combat... not only the most powerful memoir to emerge thus far from the last gulf war, but also a searing contribution to the literature of combat, a book that combines the black humor of 'Catch-22' with the savagery of 'Full Metal Jacket' and the visceral detail of 'The Things They Carried'."

Esquire 's literary editor Adrienne Miller recommendation stated, "Yes, there have been many, many books about combat in the Gulf War, but none as beautifully written or as ferocious as 'Jarhead,' Anthony Swofford's account of his life on the front lines is so honest and uncompromising as to be brutal."

And a Publishers Weekly preview summarized, "A witty, profane, down-in-the-sand account of the war many only know from CNN, this former sniper's debut is a worthy addition to the battlefield memoir genre. There isn't a bit of heroic posturing as Swofford describes the sheer terror of being fired upon by Iraqi troops; the elite special forces warrior freely admits wetting himself once rockets start exploding around his unit's encampment.

"But the adrenaline of battle is fleeting, and Swofford shows how it's in the waiting that soldiers are really made. With blunt language and bittersweet humor, he vividly recounts the worrying, drinking, joking, lusting and just plain sitting around that his troop endured while wondering if they would ever put their deadly skills to use."

After the war, Swofford was educated at American River College and the University of California, Davis, before he attended the UI Writers' Workshop. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the New York Times, Harper's, Men's Journal, the Iowa Review and other publications.

Listener discretion is advised for the Jan. 30 reading.

The Writers' Workshop is an academic unit of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,