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    Review of THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman

    Eos, September 2003 (first edition, 1976)

    Drafted into a United Nations space army after humanity is attacked by mysterious aliens, William Mandella participates in an early victory and returns to earth a hero. But (thanks to relativity) the earth he returns to is strange and dangerous--and jobless. Mandella reenlists--only to be sent back into combat. With each mission, more earth-time passes and Mandella grows more distant from the civilization that sends him into conflict. But each mission also brings him closer to death because the enemy is advancing quickly in their martial abilities.

    Author Joe Haldeman made some misguesses in terms of 21st century technology (he dramatically underestimated progress in computers and display technology and overestimated progress in lasers) and guessed that Viet Nam would be the last U.S. war action for a generation, but he tells a powerful story of soldiers fighting a war that they don't understand.

    The anti-war message of THE FOREVER WAR is clear and powerful. With the U.S. at war now (in Iraq at this writing), an anti-war message will be unpopular to some. But our current war makes THE FOREVER WAR an essential work. Haldeman ends his story with a nasty twist, and with a heartwarming surprise.

    THE FOREVER WAR is an important book, freshly edited to restore Haldeman's original message and impact (the 1970s version was really FOREVER lite. A few editorial errors remain--especially the abrupt transitions between calorie and dollar denominations, but these shouldn't detract from reader enjoyment. I read FOREVER when it came out in the 70s and was struck by its power. The new edition adds to the impact.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 11/15/03

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