Fobbit 'fä-bit, noun. Definition: A U.S. soldier stationed at a Forward Operating Base who avoids combat by remaining at the base, esp. during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011). Pejorative.
In the satirical tradition of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H, Fobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad's Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield - where people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like an office job. Male and female soldiers are trying to find an empty Porta Potty in which to get acquainted, grunts are playing Xbox, and watching NASCAR between missions, and a lot of the senior staff are more concerned about getting to the chow hall in time for the Friday night all-you-can-eat seafood special than worrying about little things like military strategy.
Darkly humorous and based on the author's own experiences in Iraq, Fobbit is a fantastic debut that shows us a behind-the-scenes portrait of the real Iraq war.
©2012 David Abrams (P)2012 Tantor
"This novel nails the comedy and the pathos, the boredom and the dread, crafting the Iraq War's answer to Catch-22." (Publishers Weekly)
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!
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.
Yes, I felt the author did a good job in describing life in Iraq with the US military.
Disappointed, seemed a little to deus ex machina.
Narrator was good, no recommendations.
Yes, no recommendations on stars.
This book was billed as the Iraq war's catch-22. Admittedly, Its been a long time since I read Catch-22 but I do remember it as being way more humorous than this book. Admission, I spent a year in Iraq with my National Guard unit. Maybe due to this experience, some of the things that may seem absurd and therefore very funny to some people didn't seem as funny to me because it was my reality for a year of my life. I did find the author's description of life in the combat zone spot on, and yes we did have the whole Fobbit culture at the base I was at. However, since I was flying all over Iraq in a Blackhawk Helicopter, I was able to see most of the bases, especially the Baghdad bases and found his descriptions very accurate, even though he obviously changed the names of the Bases. Just by his description, I knew the "Triumph" from having been there. I did enjoy the book, but like I say the characters were maybe too real to people I met over there to seem outrageous to me. Overall, if you were not deployed on Operation Iraqi Freedom, I would recommend this book just to get a feel of what it was like for the soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen who served in Iraq.
I liked that Fobbit was a "real" story - hey, not everyone is cut out to be a hero! Doesn't that make the heroes among us even more special, anyway? I did find myself fully engrossed in this book. The tale had more emotion than I expected despite it's humorous approach. Also, I must say - even the "Fobbits" of this world do a difficult job during times of war. I ended up feeling their pain (if not actual physical pain, well - at least, mental anguish and boredom, punctuated by moments of sheer terror!) It's a good story with an easy-going approach and I think there are some moments of real surprise!
This story is so character-driven - I can't imagine NOT listening to it!
Absolutely - held my interest all the way through.
Get it - excellent for those who like off-beat characters, satire or military tales.
Single Father, East Indian, Cook, and audiobook lover (due to all the time in my car).
This is the Iraq war version of Catch-22, with laughs and connections to current life. I laughed at the idea that even half of this book might be true. While I thought Catch-22 went on and on about the craziness of WWII this book get to the craziness in a funnier way.
The book was entertaining and had some excellent parts. The pace was a little slow and the ending seemed forced.
I am not a writer.
Yes. He is an interesting narrator.
Yes but in some ways it was a single point of view book.
It was fund but in some ways it was an insiders book.
this is for someone who likes to listen to a whiner.... kind of like what i am doing here. I did not care for the writing. I am not a writer so am not sure how it could be improved. Holy smokes did it get old. no real central character, kind of goes all over the place. I would start to listen then stop. in order to start to listen again i would forget how bad it was...... good luck. this is not a "MASH"
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