The 5-Minute Interview: Anthony Swofford, Author

'I was robbed at gunpoint during my first job after I left the Marines'
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The Independent Online

Anthony Swofford, 36, is the author of the bestselling book, 'Jarhead'. Adapted into a film directed by Sam Mendes, it is about the situations Swofford encountered in the Gulf war as a lance corporal in the Marine Corps. An English professor before he sold the film rights to 'Jarhead', he has now written his first work of fiction, 'Exit A' which is out now

If I weren't talking to you right now I'd be...

Getting some coffee and getting to work. I have a flat where I work from in New York. At the moment I'm in London promoting my book so I'll be going to the Tate Britain later.

A phrase I use far too often is...

I tend to say, "Yeah, yeah yeah". I don't see there's any need to stop it.

I wish people would take more notice of...

The working poor. There's a real class of people who work extremely hard for their wages without any kind of health benefits. They are people who are constantly in financial worry. I think it can be resolved in a generation. It's to do with access to education.

The most surprising thing that happened to me was...

When I was robbed at gunpoint when I worked in a bank. It was my first job after I left the Marine Corps. I felt like I was prepared. I made the stupid mistake of saying that I couldn't give him the money. He said: "I could blow your (expletive laden) head off." Then I realised he was serious and I gave him the money. I got into trouble for not giving the money over straight away but acquiescence wasn't part of my Marine Corps training.

A common misperception of me is...

That I'm still very much a military man but in fact it's been 15 years since I left the Marine Corps.

I am not a politician but...

If I was I would get the Air League involved in talking to Iraq, Syria and Iran to bring some peace to the region. There has been very little diplomacy. This kind of war is not resolved through force. If I was invited to get involved I would see what I could do. I'm not a practised politician or a negotiator, but I have a grasp of the situation.

You know me as a former marine and now an author but in truer life I'd have been an...

Architect. I trained in furniture building in high school and a bit in drafting. I joined the Marine Corps straight after high school. I wanted to escape and explore the world and maybe go kill people as the Marines promise. It's one of the slang sayings: "Join the Marines, see the world, meet interesting people and learn how to kill them."

In a nutshell, my philosophy is this:

Live well, work hard, try to do good for others.

Sara Newman

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