I had not expected to write this review. I had already reviewed the first book in this series, The Lieutenants, and the rest of the volumes in the series, in print at least, were every bit as great as that volume when I first read them. There seemed to be nothing I could add about this volume that would contribute anything new.
The characters are vivid and interesting, their life stories seem both real and representative of people I knew when I served in the military and the environment they live and work in feels real enough to me to almost touch. I am alternating one book of this series with one other book although is hard to force myself not to read through all 9 volumes in a row. So why did I write this review?
I realized, after completing my review of The Lieutenants, that I had not made clear that these books are not books about war. They are stories about the lives of a group of soldiers from their entry into the US Army through the remainder of their careers. While there are incidents where people are shot and where other violence occurs, the books are not primarily about that violence but rather about their individual lives as they progress through their careers and about the special relationships that exist between soldiers who may, at any time, have to go into hazardous duty and their wives and fellow soldiers and it is the story of the military environment in which they live and work.
There is no gratuitous violence in any of the books and I felt it was important to point that out to those who may not have yet had the pleasure of reading a book of the series. This review is probably a little late to mention it since most people who are thinking about buying The Captains have probably already read The Lieutenants, but I did want to make this point.
I read this book in paper format more than 30 years ago, but I had forgotten how good it really is. When I saw it available in audible format I jumped at the chance to listen to a previous good read.
Some of the reviews I have read are very hard on the book, but I believe that the are looking in the wrong place. What makes this book so interesting and unique, at least to me, was the idea that humans could encounter aliens so different that all of our assumptions would be wrong. How do two species interact when one is general and adaptive in nature and the other is differiented. That is at the core of this story; at least for me.
The process of meeting, all of the mistaken assumptions and the final realization as to just how different the species are is, I believe, a very interesting story with, for new readers, an unknown conclusion.
But listeners should know that this story is from 1974 and hence some of the story line is 35 years out of date. I believe that to be the cause of some of the bad reviews. Perhaps those listeners did not know the copyright date and might have been more charitable to the male-centered character of the story.
All in all I think this is a nearly great book with more than adequate reading.
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