Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Review of the Outstanding Iraq War Novel, "Fobbit"

"I'm The Fighting Leprechaun...and I'm a Fobbit." 
(Or at least was one for a year.)

As a recovering Fobbit, who blogged during my deployment as my 

personal journal, I had very high expectations when David Abrams' novel 
was announced. 
I made an advance purchase for my Kindle the first week it was available, 
and my anticipation grew from hearing the positive buzz from other 
military writers I respect and admire. (i.e., Matt Gallagher) 
When the opportunity arose to get an advance copy of "Fobbit" through 
the Amazon Vine program, I jumped at the chance.

"Fobbit" exceeded my expectations in a very big way. 

David Abrams absolutely NAILED what it was like to serve in the 
Baghdad area, both for those who went "outside the wire" 
on a regular basis, and for those who stayed on the inside 
of the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), especially like 
Camp Victory, Camp Liberty, and the other FOBs which 
made up Victory Base Complex. 
Although I was there several years later than Mr. Abrams, very little of 
the culture, aside from different uniforms and the 
absence of multi-national forces, had changed.

Accuracy alone would not have made this superb novel as excellent as it is. 

David Abrams has drawn characters so real and vivid, 
even when they are somewhat of a caricature, 
that they came alive for me. That's pretty tough to do, and it is where 
many military novels fall short. "Fobbit's" cast could very easily be 
soldiers I served alongside...and a few of the scenes came 
uncomfortably close to instances of my own behavior. 
(Thankfully, none of the really egregious examples...
but diving under my desk during an unscheduled "controlled detonation" 
of confiscated enemy explosives is still painful to recall.) 

The divide between Fobbits and combat troops, and 
even "Semi-Fobbits" like I was (30 missions outside the wire) was tangible, 
and often pretty tense. David Abrams artfully illustrates 
that divide with a couple of sentences, which will bring it alive for 
readers, whether you deployed over there or not.

I can't predict with certainty how "Fobbit" will affect readers 

who did NOT serve in Iraq. Obviously my perception is framed 
by my own experience. On the other hand, I was deeply affected by 
military novels such as "Catch-22", "Better Times Than These", 
and "The Thin Red Line" before I became a soldier. 
I'm willing to bet that "Fobbit" will have a similar impact 
on this and future generations. It is that good.

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