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Wildly funny with a sarcastic wit so sharp, you could shave a gorilla. Abrams writes from his own 20 years with the Army as a journalist. The inhabitants of Fobbit are a handful of whacked characters with different backgrounds and personalities -- all described as spineless (or more accurately...Abrams describes the northern migration of their testicles), all only doing their best for God and country to stay out of the war. It will take someone who has been there and done that to actually judge this book; from someone just observing...this read like Laurel and Hardy meet al Qaeda, or a book that has decided to just lay it out there and define FUBAR. The really unfunny thing is...this is based on reality.
Abrams' writing is clever and unforgiving; he has a talent for describing characters we can relate to because we've all flubbed something up beyond repair, and we've all been less than noble at one time or another. He often attacks even the most *sacred* with his sharp cynical wit...the officer locked in his quarters with his hoarde of *care boxes*, sifting through the letters from grade school children (one where a child says he hates his teacher but that's okay because even his dad says shes a bitter old washed up woman), reading (awful, flowery) poetry from a woman in a bad marriage, stockpiling an overabundance of Wet Wipes and socks.
The plot is a bit weak, overshadowed by such strong characters and their in-the-moment snafus. It reminded me of listening to a M*A*S*H*-a-thon, except you liked (and could admire) Hawkeye and Trapper. The Fobbit's aren't so likeable, and unless you can admire the guy that sneaked a duke in the Colonel's helmet...
Lots of reviews said this was comparable to Catch 22 and Slaughterhouse Five, and that comparison pointed out the weakness of this book to me. Those books clearly expressed how horrible the wars were, the toll on the people involved. Fobbit keeps you too entertained with the antics, you don't really stop to think about the real impact of war. But that doesn't mean this won't have an impact! I think what Abrams has to say is more controversial than the Navy Seal's book that dropped last month -- it certainly says more about who's incharge. Glad journalists don't sign disclosure statements--this was great fun.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
What a great friggin’ read! First off, I would like to point out that this book is NOT a critique on all U.S. soldiers. I have read several other books on U.S. soldiers serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan and read the gut-wrenching tales of serious sacrifice and real bravery. Not here though. Instead, the author shifts the focus away from the front lines of a lethal insurgency…all the way back…to the cushy Forward Operating Base (FOB). Here, the author exposes us to the nauseous culture that evolves from the unheroic personalities that nest at these FOB’s. The details and scope of the book smack of first-hand experience with fobbits. They are creatures of comfort who daydream often, who privately bask in guilty pleasures, romanticize their roles, and avoid risk with an almost pathological efficiency...only to put everyone else at risk.
I must say, though, for each eyebrow-raising LOL, there was also a simultaneous cringe of disgust. These goofy characters may be amusing in their incompetence, but their actions also evoke the terrible specter of cowardice. It’s real. There is something tragic about human beings who become so skilled at meaningless action, at savoring worthlessness. To them, risk is something like a flu bug they dutifully outsmart at every turn. What David Abrams has truly sketched out for us in his book is the VERY REAL culture of cowardice. It’s only funny when you realize what you are looking at. However, inside the bubble the participants can no longer distinguish common sense from cowardice; there is only the cozy charm of feeling safe and comfortable. After all, hard work is for suckers and only fools take risks.
Great book! Brilliant, sarcastic, and right on the money!
5 of 5 people found this review helpful