Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails: A Memoir

Anthony Swofford


he 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.

Bryan Brousseau

Rosie Nakamura

Produced by
Adam Cushman,


Join Anthony Swofford on his journey toward true manhood….HOTELS, HOSPITALS, AND JAILS is a powerful and sometimes painful book to read. The writing is short, staccato and rhythmic. More importantly, it’s honest.

A gritty, intense and wrenching account…

USA Today

Intense…. As ‘Jarhead’ (2003), his harrowing account of serving with the Marines during the first gulf war, so eloquently attests, Mr. Swofford can write like he drives: fast and furious and profane, a poet’s touch control channeling all the testosterone and adrenaline into a high-test, high-wire performance. His new memoir… reminds us of the power of Mr. Swofford’s prose – his ability to conjure a mood, a time, a place with a flick of his pen.

Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
hotels hospitals author

Anthony Swofford

Anthony Swofford is the author of the memoirs Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails and Jarhead and the novel Exit A. A film adaptation of Jarhead directed by Sam Mendes was released in 2005. Swofford’s writing has appeared in Harper’s, the New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, and Slate among other places. He has taught at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and Lewis and Clark College. He lives in upstate New York with his wife, the writer and photographer Christi Parravani, and their daughter. For more visit: