Gabe Hudson   Dear Mr. President  
Gabe Hudson  
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It's nearly impossible to read a newspaper or turn on a television without hearing about the imminent threat of chemical warfare and claims of an urgency to overthrow Saddam Hussein. In a uniquely humorous and cleverly surreal compilation of short stories, Gabe Hudson has produced a book that will further enforce some people's convictions that the US must invade Iraq while convincing others that it's a terrible idea. In most cases, these stories will simply provide its readers with humorous insight into the craziness, and in some cases the boredom, of modern war.

Though heady, Dear Mr. President passes on countless opportunities to preach from a soapbox while delivering eight strange tales of confused soldiers whose experiences are unlikely to be interpreted the same way by any two readers. It's entirely possible that there's no message at all in these stories but Mr. Hudson's tales seem too smart to be about nothing.

Combining his experience as a Marine reservist during the Bush, Sr. administration with an Ivy League education, Gabe Hudson creates characters who are genuine and insightful without any hints of pretension or condescension. With stories ranging from the tale of a veteran who comes home with melting bones to find himself at odds with a neighborhood bully to a novella about a stranded GI who lives among monkeys and offers medical assistance to soldiers on both sides of the war, Dear Mr. President is never predictable. Dear Mr. President does not qualify as an academic historical document per se but it does effectively capture these times and this war in an oddly effective fashion.

Brian Niemietz

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