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The Forever War
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on January 19, 2018
This is not so much a story of war as it is the tale of a soldier,unwillingly drafted into a situation beyond his control,trying to adapt,serve his time, and go home. Much like our Vietnam vets, only in a futuristic world. Haldemans writing style kept me involved in the story. I became familiar with his work from another book of short stories that I enjoyed very much.
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on September 2, 2016
The time dilation and how it applies to interstellar warfare was a neat idea. Considering this was written by a Vietnam war veteran, it is even more interesting. Makes you wonder if those coming out of Vietnam felt that they were hundreds of years out of place.
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on August 17, 2015
The world that Haldeman creates and recreates holds some of the most engaging ideas I've read in scifi. The themes of pacifism, unending wars, sexual orientation, time-dilation, and love through the lens of Vietnam vet with a nihilistic sense of humor hits all my nerd nerves. The world building also is done with perfection and never gets dull or caught up in itself.

Hands down one of the best books I've ever read.
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on January 1, 2017
I've read this book so many times over the years and each time I find something new, each time is as good as the first time.

No one writes like Mr. Haldeman does and I suspect no one ever will again. I imagine that every age feels the same way about the authors and artists they grew up with and that's ok, it's what makes those people so special to us, it's the feeling that somehow they "belong" to us.

Read this book and you'll understand where many of the ideas that populate today's sci fi movies and tv shows come from.
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on September 23, 2016
Its a real classic. I actually forgot I read it before when I was younger, bought it to my kindle and only during reading found out.
But I'm pretty happy about the mistake. The author was inspired from his time in the Vietnam war and now as I am older and more experienced, some of the ideas and concepts behind the book are more clear to me, not like my first time reading this book where I only treat it as a sci-fi book.

All in all it is a really good book, although I find some of the concepts about future earth kind of ridiculous and out of place to the book.
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on June 9, 2016
It took me forever to get to read this book. I missed it it my heyday years, when I would read 3 or 4 a week. I loved the introduction piece by Scalzi, as I am in the same boat, having not read it until now, it was a very captivating story which I only put down to go to the bath room and cook a pizza. I finished it in one sitting (6-7 hrs) because it was so hard to put down. I liked Scalzi's answers to his fans about his reasons to not have read this story yet. The few difficulties I had were minor glitches that annoyed my reading pattern ,which were every time he used caulked instead of kaked for killing off someone. Getting under weigh instead of underway .(Navy terms weigh is just for anchors) and a few others,but the story is so captivating that I believe that any reader will find it hard d to put it down. Loved all the background character stories and his colorful descriptions of future lives it took me 40 years to get to it but was still one of the greater stories that I have read.( I read the "Old man's war" and don't think it was a "copy" of this at all,loved them all)
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on June 8, 2017
Read the first time when I was in college in the mid-70's and now, again. The story has lost none of its power. In fact, with the benefit of looking back over the intervening 40 years, Haldeman's insights into the cultural shifts experienced by Mandala seem almost prescient. Highly recommended.
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on March 30, 2014
I have found few books of hard Sci-fi adhering to the consequences of traveling near light-speed. Collapsar jumps might take a few months at most in Haldeman's futuristic novel. Relativity kicks in, making Mandella suffer the consequences of seeing a changed Earth when he comes home after being drafted in the early 1980's (he comes back hundreds of years after due to relativity). It's a great read, up until the last 15% of the book where the book turns tangential in nature. It threw me off a bit, making the last few pages difficult to digest after a gripping read.

In the midst of the war against the Taurans, Earth is faced with a dystopian government, which adds the true punch to this time-traveling sci-fi novel. Earth is discombobulated, making living a civilian life on Earth completely unbearable. The best way to earn a decent living is by enlisting in the Army. If you leave the army, a taxation of 95% over your earnings is applied. The colonization of other planets, like Heaven, creates of this new dream-like place a true utopia. I guess we all end up dreaming of a place where we can start all over again, but with the vantage of technology.

An enjoyable and memorable read.
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on July 11, 2013
"`Tonight we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man.' The guy who said that was a sergeant who didn't look five years older than me. So if he'd ever killed a man in combat, silently or otherwise, he'd done it as an infant."

The opening paragraph provides a glimpse into the most intriguing aspect of "The Forever War," that of the affect of time dilation, officially defined as: the principle predicted by relativity that time intervals between events in a system have larger values measured by an observer moving with respect to the system than those measured by an observer at rest with respect to it. This concept is explored in the 1953 novel, "Childhood's End" by Arthur C. Clarke as protagonist Jan Rodricks travels to the Overlords homeland in a faraway galaxy; upon his return to Earth he has barely aged, while 80 years have passed for those who remain on Earth. In "The Forever War," the concept is turbo-charged as we follow the travels of William Mandella between Stargate and phenomena called Collapsars (what we today would refer to as a black hole) and distant planets where a war with the Taurans rages for thousands of Earth years.

The novel is broken down into the parts of Mandella's life as he ascends from a foot soldier to a leader in the United Nations Exploratory Force (UNEF), which was assembled for war against the Taurans. As someone who studied the history of Vietnam, including the French occupation of Indochina and the American involvement (which began well before LBJ escalated the war), the metaphors and irony vis a vis the Indochina Wars (fought between 1946-1979) were striking; that the smartest and strongest are sent against the Taurans (vs. the US draft where often those who were the poorest and less privileged were sent against Vietnamese); that the Earth to which Mandella returns, many decades or hundreds of years later is very different from the one he left, unwelcoming and undone (vs. the US soldier who returned from Vietnam to an often hostile and volatile America very different from the one he left); that the war is a supportive crutch to a failing Earthen economy (vs. the US contractors who during the age of Vietnam had much production in the US, especially the East and West Coasts where employees for the defense contractors supported the local and national economy); that the theory was that Earth's economy would collapse without the war (vs. a US economy that did collapse after its involvement in the war ended - though admittedly more from an oil shock owing to the Yom Kippur war than Vietnam, doubtless the end of lush government spending and contracts had an impact overall).

Where the novel may disappoint readers is in the characterization of Mandella and his love interest, Marygay Potter. In the beginning, Mr. Haldeman ushers images that would make Ron Jeremy jealous, of orgies and fantasies; gratuitous love-making. "Actually, she was the one with the new trick. The French corkscrew, she called it. She wouldn't tell me who taught it to her, though. I'd like to shake his hand. Once I got my strength back." Unfortunately, we don't get beyond this first layer and it takes away from the denouement.

The bottom line: "The Forever War" is an epic story of the pointlessness of war, the impact it has on the troops and their families, and the tendency for mankind to descend to chaos rather than order. Fans of speculative fiction will find the technology and its descriptions riveting, the social changes thought-provoking (forced homosexuality and the "cure" for heterosexuality) though I wonder if they will care enough about Mandella to witness his conclusion.

-Raeden Zen
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on February 14, 2014
Excellent overall story line with characters that work well together and in a way that is believable. Its a great study of the impact of logistics on the war fighting capabilities of a nation or planet united. Bound together by the threat of an unseen and misunderstood enemy, the real battle the characters face is time and the ability to modernize weapons, machinery, and tactics. What worked well in the first throws of battle, ultimately must be adapted and changed to continue to be successful. The reality is that even on our own planet, time changes everything and a nation that continues to build its defensive capabilities based merely on the success of the last war without regard to the changing threat, will ultimately fail in the next. Logistics always is the Achilles heal of an army in the field. Coupled with a time line spanning thousands of years, and the inevitable evolution of societies social thinking and views of the war, the characters face a battle against not only the vastness of space, but an identity war which tests their own beliefs and philosophies as the generations of soldiers constantly change. A must read for any military Officer or NCO; this book should be on the reading list along side of the Defense of Duffers Drift and Starship Troopers.
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