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Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, as most books ought to be, 26 July 2008
This review is from: Starship Troopers (Paperback)
I'll try to make my review short; as the title says, the book is short - about 1 cm thick. Good books, including good SF doesn't have to be thick like a brick.

Now about the content - the emphasis or overtones of the book are political, despite all the SF-mandaory inclusion of interstellar travel, starships, superweapons and whatnot; politics were one of Heinlein's major pet rocks.

A criticism I often hear of this book (or the movie, rather, since more people have snapshots from the movie in their mind's eye when the title is thrown up into the air) is that is it fascist in some way. This is however wrong. The trigger for this knee-jerk reaction is most likely from the movie, and the costume designs for the movie uniforms (which considering that military imagery and themes take an absolutely dominant position) obviously look like the ones that Nazi germans wore during WWII - largely same fashion, hues and decorations - that is one immediate explanation of the faulty association.

Another - IMO the more important, which does not depend on the choices of the film crew/firector - is the actual book content, specifically the early part where there is discussion of why "democracy of the old days" was abandoned. But again, it wasn't as such - what was abandoned was the notion that all have an equal right to vote and influence public policy.

What is instead offered is the model where only people who have served in the Armed Services are allowed full rights of Citizenship; apart from rights to free speech etc. which all 'baseline' citizens enjoy (the existence of which debunks the notion that the system presented in the book is fascist) - only full Citizens are allowed to vote and hold public office.

Thus, the book's political backdrop is not one of a fascist dictatorship, but that of a limited franschise democracy, not much different from that of pre-WWI Western nations.

What is also worth noting is that Switzerland, which is probably the oldest functioning democracy in the current/Western mold, was founded on this exact idea, namely that to be able to vote, you had to show dedication to the community beforehand, by being willing to fight for the defense of the nation. This would proabaly give pause to many who claim that Heinlein was rooting for fascism.

(Lastly, Heinlein was anti-authoritarian to a degree of bordering on the anarchist. Wikipedia offers more detail, which is naturally recommended reading.)
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Location: Denmark, Europe

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