Heinlein, Robert A.
About the Author:
Robert Anson Heinlein won several Hugo Awards before his death in 1989.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
To begin, and I know SF purists will crucify me for this, I was disappointed that this book wasn't more like the movie it spawned, lacking the action and romantic entanglements. However, once I managed to put aside the imagery of Paul Verhoeven's film, I finally began to get into Heinlein's original story.
Basically this is a soldier's memoir, telling of his harsh training, his terrifying early encounters with combat and his subsequent rise to a position of military authority. I don't know for sure, but I'd certainly guess that Heinlein was himself an infantryman as this book reads very much like the real soldier's memoirs that I've read. Perhaps this book's greatest attribute is that the author manages to make it entirely about the life of the soldier (Juan Rico), with the futuristic setting, advanced technology and ongoing war with the 'Bugs' being largely incidental.
One particular element I found fascinating were the flashbacks to Rico's History and Moral Philosophy classes. Here we get a glimpse of the times in which Heinlein was writing the novel (the 1950s), in particular the aggressive rants against the principles of Communism. The other telling factor is the author's suggested belief that an Anglo-Russo-American alliance would engage in a devastating war with China before the end of the twentieth century, leading to the breakdown of society as we know it. Heinlein also uses the H&MP classes to voice his political and social views, not least his support of corporal punishment.
Overall I really liked this book and can see why it's considered a SF classic, however, it didn't blow me away in the way I'd hoped and expected it would.
4 out of 5