I'm not for a moment going to try to defend the literary merit of Heinlein's work. This is, truly, a dreadfully badly written book, a book which cries out for harsh editing. And yet I felt it necessary to write a review to counterbalance those which precede me here, because, although this is a bad book, it's a truly great bad book. It's a book that anyone interested in twentieth century popular culture should read, and a book which will remain the subject of serious literary debate long after all the Booker Prize winners are forgotten.
The reviewers who say this book is too long are right. The reviewers who say it's badly written are right. The reviewers who say it is sexist are... missing the point. Yes, one of the protagonists, who seems to be Heinlein's alter ego, is astonishingly misogynist.
But that's part of why this novel is interesting. It's a visceral satire on the values and mores of Middle America of its day - and, given that Middle America changes only slowly, it still reads true of Middle America today. Sarah Palin might burn it - and has good reason to fear it.
It's a book stuffed with ideas, many of which are very funny; and it's a book with, despite its surface misogyny, a very interesting exploration of gender relations and gender politics which still bears reading. Overall, I strongly recommend that - if you've any interest in a literature of ideas, in the tradition of satire in English letters - you read this book. It's the very best dreadful book you will ever read.