Summary and book reviews of Fobbit by David Abrams

Fobbit

By David Abrams

Fobbit
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  • Paperback: Sep 2012,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

Fobbit \’fä-b?t\, 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.

1
GOODING

They were Fobbits because, at the core, they were nothing but marshmallow. Crack open their chests and in the space where their hearts should be beating with a warrior's courage and selfless regard, you'd find a pale, gooey center. They cowered like rabbits in their cubicles, busied themselves with PowerPoint briefings to avoid the hazard of Baghdad's bombs, and steadfastly clung white-knuckled to their desks at Forward Operating Base Triumph. If the FOB was a mother's skirt, then these soldiers were pressed hard against the pleats, too scared to venture beyond her grasp.

Like the shy, hairy-footed hobbits of Tolkien's world, they were reluctant to go beyond their shire, bristling with rolls of concertina wire at the borders of the FOB. After all, there were goblins in turbans out there! Or so they convinced themselves.

Supply clerks, motor pool mechanics, cooks, mail sorters, lawyers, trombone players, logisticians: Fobbits, one and all. They didn&...

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Reviews

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Readers looking for an excellent novel about the inner workings (and follies) of Operation Iraqi Freedom will find much to enjoy here; Fobbit may well be considered a classic of the genre by future readers, and it's a must-read for fans of war fiction.   (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

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Media Reviews
Author Blurb Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn and What It Is Like to Go to War
Fobbit is hilarious, but the subject matter is deadly serious. The protagonist is a 'fobbit,' the term used by the grunts for the non-combatants ensconced inside well-protected forward operating bases, oases of junk food, air-conditioning, and all the comforts of home. But throughout the book, the fobbits are shadowed by the presence of the infantry who live in horrible conditions and are the smelly, dirty, haggard reminders that there is a real war going on just outside the gates. This is a remarkable book because it was written by a man who served as a member of an army public relations team in Iraq, i.e. a fobbit himself. It is the rare writer–indeed, the rare person–who can step outside of himself and see with cold clarity the humor and pathos of his situation and then bring the reader to the same understanding. David Abrams is such a writer.

Author Blurb Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here
Fobbit is fast, razor sharp, and seven kinds of hilarious. It deserves a place alongside Slaughterhouse Five and Catch-22 as one of our great comic novels about the absurdity of war.

Author Blurb Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng and Half a Life
i>Fobbit, an Iraq-war comedy, is that rarest of good things: The book you least expect, and most want. It is everything that terrible conflict was not: Beautifully planned and perfectly executed; funny and smart and lyrical; a triumph. David Abrams has taken up Joe Heller’s mantle - or not mantle; more like his Groucho nose and his whoopee cushion - and so his debut marks the arrival of a massive talent.

Library Journal

A funny, hard-edged satire about recent history and modern war-making, suitable for adult general fiction readers.

Kirkus Reviews

Sardonic and poignant. Funny and bitter. Ribald and profane. Confirmation for the anti-war crowd and bile for Bush supporters.

Booklist

First-novelist Abrams punches up the grittiness of war with the dark, cynical humor that comes from living it (he served as a Fobbit in Iraq), crafting images that will haunt readers long after they pry their grip from the book.

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review. This novel nails the comedy and the pathos, the boredom and the dread, crafting the Iraq War’s answer to Catch-22.

Time

A retired veteran whose 20-year career in the Army included a 2005 tour in Baghdad, Abrams is comfortable and convincing locating the action in Iraq...Fobbit is a vicious skewering of this surprisingly large military subculture of war avoidance.

Men's Journal

Using diaries he kept as a public affairs man in Iraq in 2005, Abrams makes comedy from the clash between positive spin and personal terror.

Montana Standard

If Vonnegut and Heller were the undisputed chroniclers of the madness of World War II, Abrams should be considered the resounding new voice of the Iraq War.

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Forward Operating Bases and Their Place in Military Strategy

David Abrams' novel Fobbit is set primarily at Triumph, a fictional Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Baghdad, Iraq.

Almost always very close to the action, FOBs are secure areas where military operations are planned and front-line soldiers are fed and housed when off duty. FOBs can be low-tech: generally tents or bunkers surrounded by minimal defenses. Others are made up of reinforced boxcar-like containers, and all are more heavily fortified. A typical modern FOB will be surrounded by high blast-resistant walls – often topped by concertina wire - and have multiple guarded entry points (at least two, one for vehicles and one for personnel). Large stone-filled gabions (mesh cages) or smaller barricades are placed around the base to ...

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