Book Review: "Starship Troopers" by Robert A. Heinlein


As always, here's a slight spoiler warning as I am going to be reviewing Robert A. Heinlein's, Starship Troopers. There is commentary within the book that covers controversial socialism, which will ultimately force me to spoil the over all themes of the content. You have been warned.

In Robert A. Heinlein’s controversial bestseller, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest boot camp in the Universe—and into battle against mankind’s most alarming enemy.

"Everyone needs to read this book," was what the person who recommended this book to me said. I received little context on the subject matter, got the wrong impression when I looked at its cover (I know, shame on me, though sci-fi is new territory for me). I'm always a woman of my word, so I read through it--and was surprised by how profoundly this book affected me.

The book began as many militaristic sci-fi books I've managed to poke through do, a soldier is about to be deployed on a mission to fight space ants (or arachnids?). He's got the "shakes" that he shouldn't, but the battle's about to commence. I hold back my groan for a fair amount of two more chapters, and quickly learn that the ant-arachnids are Communists. Huh.

Three more chapters later, we've left behind the battlefields for philosophical, and political, debates among cadets in the classroom--for a good 80-90% of the book. It probably dawns on my by "chapter 7 and-a-half" that Heinlein, and by extension the friend who recommended this book to me, have tricked me into reading a political essay in mecha armor.

The majority of this book takes place in classrooms. Yes, you herd me correctly. Rather than a battlefield with lasers firing every which way and space ships crashing every ten pages, we're in classrooms. Don't get me wrong, battles in outer space are exciting but its not what I expected when I turned to page one.

The overall theme of this book is that social responsibility requires being prepared to make personal sacrifice. As the "ant-arachnids" are communists, the Terran Federation is a democracy that is limited by mankind's unwillingness to sacrifice outside of common interest. As a result of this, suffrage is only realized by those who are willing to serve society.

There's a particular reason why I switched the lineup to read this book next. I'm not one who delves in "pc" debates, namely because doing so over the internet involves frustration and "taking a side," but this book did make me consider the topic. Don't worry, I won't be preaching a definition of "pc" to you because its not necessary.

It all has to do with that profound effect this book has had on me. This is a book everyone needs to read. Heinlein's book encourages us to remember that the sacrifices made for the improvement and preservation of our societies should not be left to someone else. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to shepard in the future we desire.

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