Paul Dura's Reviews > Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
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Apr 18, 2008

really liked it
Read in July, 2007

Starship Troopers is listed amongst the recommended books by the United States Air Force for a reason. For those who plan on pursuing a military career, this book exhibits the very ideals upon which our current military standards are based. Camaraderie, Sacrifice, and Responsibility are more than mere words to the protagonist. The distinction between a fighting man and a soldier is made. The distinction between a superior rank and a true officer is made. Johnny Rico is a soldier in more than merely name, and the reader discovers this through this narrative.

For those of you who have seen the film incarnation of this story, simply forget it. It won't aid you in understanding or predicting the outcome of this book. The tempo, messages, and level of seriousness are completely different. Most of you know the pitfalls of watching the movie first, so I implore you to read this book before seeing the movie. If you have already seen the movie, as I stated before, forget it.

There is one thing I would mention that is perhaps the fault of this book. Heinlein shapes a militaristic, possibly even oppressive society, out of the remaining nations on earth. He touts the virtues of citizenry only being earned through dedicated service. At the same time, he manages to skirt by some of the more practical and realistic attitudes of people. The society could very well work if it was implemented exactly in the fashion it is described in his novel, but the transition from our current societal structure to this system of government is EXTREMELY unlikely. It takes the edge off of the bold concepts, making this book only a 4 star.

To end on a positive note I'll say this. When I finally finished this novel I had a brief spark inside of me. For once in my entire career, I felt a sense of pride in being a soldier. No military training, no officer, and certainly no civilian has ever made me feel as proud of my profession as that novel has.
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-13 of 13) </span> <span class="smallText">(13 new)</span>

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Pamr I agree with Paul about the words Camaraderie, Sacrifice and Responsibility being more than mere words to the protagonist. I believe that Heinlein is saying more than that it is what makes a good officer he is saying that it is what makes a person into a good citizen.

In his society it is instilled and achieved by military service but is as applicable to everyone today. Being there for people even if we are having a bad day, making personal scarifices (as small as being a little less selfish and thinking of someone other than ourselves for a minute) and taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions without seeking to blame anything and everything else for the situation.

Paul should be proud of his profession being a soldier and maybe it is an inditment of our society today and it's values that it took this novel for that spark to come into being...just a thought.




Dr M The society could very well work if it was implemented exactly in the fashion it is described in his novel, but the transition from our current societal structure to this system of government is EXTREMELY unlikely.

Agreed, but I don't think it was Heinlein's intention that we should believe such a transition likely: it is not a prophecy about the future of society. The society Heinlein sets up is simply a backdrop that allows him to discuss questions about what it means to be a citizen, as well as a bunch of moral issues. It also allows him to expose some of the vulnerability of modern society (his discussions about crime, juvenile crime and responsibility, and the disintegration of XXth century society). I think it is a mistake to believe that Heinlein actually intended this as a likely societal development, or indeed a desirable society.

And if you feel proud of being a soldier after reading this book, that would probably make Heinlein happy. As I understand it, Troopers was written because Heinlein was pissed off at seeing soldiers consistently portrayed as mindless grunts and wanted to give his view about what good soldiers are actually (supposed to be) like.


Jesse This has to be one of my favorite books of all time and I find myself agreeing with much of his philosophy throughout the book.

I just wanted to point out that this wasn't a society that evolved from our current universal suffrage. It came about after the collapse of our current societies. As some veterans were the ones that picked up the pieces and only trusted other veterans the system evolved from that.


message 4: by Joseph (last edited Dec 28, 2012 10:36PM) (new) - added it

Joseph It's nice to read a review about this book from someone who: A. has actually served in the military and B. isn't some pretentious self-righteous douche who only commented on the book's page so they could spout off their political commentary (with the privilege of looking back at the past 50 years in hindsight no less). With that out of the way, spot-on.


message 5: by Nate (new)

Nate Mcauley Paul let me say that your review is spot on. The little i have read of this book impresses me. I am overseas once again and things are getting complicated, yet again so i would strongly appreciate it if i could contact you once again.


John Rossman I have read the book many years before the movie came out. When I watched the movie, the book was still fresh in my mind and disregarded the movie as separate entity.


Corey Simmins I teach it every year to high school seniors. Love it for all aforementioned reasons.....and then some.


Troy Grice Love the movie. An excellent and scathing satire on fascism.


Bashbot One of Heinlein's big reasons for writing the book as well was as a counterpoint to those who were arguing at the time ground forces were no longer needed in the atomic age and future wars would just consist of nuclear exchanges which would leave both sides devastated, but one more than the other. Duty and service are larger themes, but he does come back to the point a few times that the use or demonstration of force is not always about seeing how many people you can kill and nuance is still necessary.


message 10: by Troy (last edited Aug 05, 2016 06:07PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Troy Grice I hold out hope that it was Heinlein's satirical indictment of military worship, empire, and fascism worship.


message 11: by Bashbot (last edited Aug 05, 2016 06:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bashbot The guy who made the movie hated the book and didn't actually read it.

Heinlein was very pro military (he attended Annapolis) and looked at military service as a right of passage which is a common theme among many of his books. He was always involved in groups which promoted national defense (Patrick Henry League among others) and one of the last notable events along this vein was his falling out with Arthur C Clarke due to Clarke's criticism of SDI (Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars), which Heinlein was in favor of and viewed as a U.S. matter.


message 12: by Troy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Troy Grice Yes, I agree. Heinlein advocated militarism and imperialism in Starship Troopers. There is no escaping the endorsement of fascism in that book.


Bashbot But on the upside, it was multi cultural/multi racial fascism :) Juan Rico was Pilipino. And Heinlein did give us the free love and libertarian manifesto's not to long after. I get off the train before the incest manifestos not too long after that though.


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