“Jarhead” Author Swofford Talks Life, Politics

Former marine and award-winning author Anthony Swofford during his visit to Pacific. PC: Pacific Media Relations

Anthony Swofford is a Gulf War veteran, critically acclaimed author, and self-proclaimed Democrat. During his presentation on March 7, Swofford spoke about all of these topics to an audience of attentive Pacific students and faculty in the Grace Covell Banquet Hall.

Swofford began by describing how his experience fighting in the Gulf War transformed him as a person.

“… the Marine Corps did not teach me how to write, but it did teach me how to be in the world as a writer,” he said.

He later elaborated on this claim by saying that he uses his writing as a method of advocating for his political views on gun control and discrimination. Swofford also explained that his experience fighting in the war helped him to build his own political philosophy separate from that of his staunchly Republican father. In this way, he aligned himself with the Democratic party in what he described as an act of rebellion.

Although Swofford said, “To transform is one of the hardest things to do,” these kinds of transformations proved pivotal to his writing career. Later in the presentation, Swofford disclosed how his writing finally advanced when he began to write about his own experiences rather than about commonly chosen topics. He said that writing his war novel “Jarhead” brought him closer to the experience of war and closer to the people affected by it.

Similarly, Swofford described how writing war novels brought him into contact with a man named Carlos, a Costa Rican immigrant whose son died fighting in the US Marine Corps. Carlos shares Swofford’s beliefs in peacekeeping and gun control, yet instead of choosing writing as his form of political activism, he chooses to lead protests. Swofford said that he respects and admires Carlos’s ability to put himself in dangerous positions just to get his message out.

However, he explained that he chose writing as his form of activism because he is more of a slower learner, and writing gives him the ability to really examine and think in-depth about the issues that are important to him.

When asked about her favorite part of the presentation, Kennedy Watson ‘19, said, “I just thought it was amazing that he is using his platform and his background as a form of activism… It just makes me feel safer to know that there are people like him out there using their platforms to speak up about the danger [of guns]”.

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