Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein ****

Johnnie Rico is a 22nd century soldier in the Mobile Infantry: the best trained and toughest of the armed services. They are dropped in capsules into the worst battles where their mechanized personal armor and weapons can overpower any enemy in the universe. The current conflicts puts individualistic humans against a communal race (organized like an ant colony - queens, workers, soldiers) that invaded the human worlds.

With this introduction, you might expect Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein to be a story of action and warfare, but it reads more like a paean to the infantry (incidentally by an Annapolis graduate who who received a medical discharge terminating his military career well before WWII). Fully half the book is about boot camp: tough but fair sergeants, brutal but effective exercises, and the pride and camaraderie of those who succeed. The battles are just a few pages of very few chapters.

While Heinlein does not pontificate quite as much as some of his later books, he does manage to explain that only volunteer soldiers should be allowed to vote and that juvenile delinquency is caused by not raising children the way dogs are properly trained.

This is wonder macho view of a macho military and a fun read for anyone looking for a romantic view of life in the infantry.

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