Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review - Redliners

I just finished reading "Redliners" by David Drake.  In a nutshell, a company of human shock infantry that has been worn the heck out in an protracted interstellar war is tasked to guard a new human colony in an environment where every living thing is deadly.  I won't discuss the plot beyond that, because I hate spoilers and I believe that this book deserves every reader it can get.

Drake served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam, and he has used the things he saw and did there to populate and enrich his fiction for over 30 years.  He's most well known for his "Hammer's Slammer's" series of short stories and novels, but has branched out into other storylines and genres as he's grown as a writer.  He's one of the few people I don't know that I would like to sit down and eat a meal with, just to have a conversation with them and hear their stories.

The central question of Redliners is "How do you re-integrate combat veterans, some of them damaged to a horrible extent both physically and psychologically, into a civilian populace who not only has no idea what those who protect them have gone through, but also has no interest in learning?".  Redliners was published in 1997, but its theme is extremely timely after 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  As a society, Americans have only a tenuous connection to its military sons and daughters, and we have a long way to go to not only thank our combat veterans, but also to bring them back in as part of our society without treating them as damaged goods.

I believe the critical scene in the book is where the civilians watch video footage of a recent battle and realize just how much the soldiers put on the line for them.  This is why I believe that embedded reporters are one of the best things to come out of the current conflicts.  Yes, a lot of the time the reporting can be tilted one way or the other, but it gives those of us who have sent our soldiers into harms way an idea of what they go through, how they maintain their sanity, and the price they pay for each and every one of us.  We are blessed that our citizens do not come under attack very often, so such things as Restrepo and Gunner Palace can give us some connection to what our soldiers are doing for us.

I'd recommend that everyone read this book.  It's available as a free download from Baen Books if you're into e-readers, and a dead tree version is available from Amazon.  This one is definitely going on the "Have the kids read this when they're old enough to understand it" shelf.

4 comments:

Christina LMT said...

Thanks for the recommendation. I just downloaded it. :)

DaddyBear said...

Enjoy!

Ruth said...

Good book! I struggle my way throughalot of his stuff, but I liked that one!

On a Wing and a Whim said...

I think that was the first David Drake I ever successfully finished. Good book.

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