A fobbit, explains David Abrams's novel, is "a U.S. Army employee stationed at a Forward Operating Base, especially during Operation Iraqi Freedom." The environs of FOB Triumph are chaotic, but the Fobbits look forward to the seafood feast on Friday night, play games and watch DVDs, get it on in Porta Pottys and try not to think about the war going on outside. Fobbit is none-too-gentle satire, based on Abrams's own experiences in Iraq.

The heart of the book is Staff Sgt. Chance Gooding Jr., a public relations NCO who writes press releases, which, even as he puts the "right spin" on the bombing and street fighting, will be edited, re-edited and eviscerated until they bear no relationship to the events that made them necessary.

Then there's Captain Abe Shrinkle, a company commander with incredibly bad judgment, a hoarder with a trailer full of food and gifts from the folks back home. Mama's boy Eustace Harkleroad is a self-aggrandizing twit who writes home of his exploits--largely fabricated--and encourages Mama to leak them to the local papers.

In a particularly cynical passage, Abrams describes the media waiting for the body count to reach 2,000. Says Chance in his diary: "2,000 is a number most Americans can hold in their minds and use it to remember the awful waste of this war, this overlong field trip to the desert where we got ourselves tangled in a briar patch and stuck to the tar baby of terrorism." Abrams's tale is powerful stuff. --Valerie Ryan, Cannon Beach Book Company, Ore.

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