The genre's counterpoint to [b:Starship Troopers|17214|Starship Troopers|Robert A. Heinlein|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348024291s/17214.jpg|2534973]. Though I sympathize with the anti-war politics more than what appears to be on parade in Heinlein, this is probably the weaker novel of the two.
Heinlein presents what is essentially a freikorps utopia, which I read as an unintentional dystopia. Haldeman runs the other way, presenting a progressive society negatively from the perspective of a jaded soldier returning after a tour of duty, which, due to special relativity, places him hundreds of years down the road from the society that he originally left. The world up and got leftwing in the meanwhile: hunger & homelessness abolished, sexuality liberated, crime controlled through rehabilitation rather than retribution, limitations on private property, many billions liberated from work in order to pursue artistic and creative endeavors (98-100). For the narrator, all that is solid has melted into air, and he disagrees with how the world has unfolded--it therefore, contrasted to Heinlein again, comes across as unintentional utopia. As in Clarke's [b:Chilhood's End], it's a vision of the future with which some leftists flatter themselves. We know that the narrator is unambiguously opposed to the unfolding of the setting: "Marygay and I were each other's only link to real life, the Earth of the 1980s and 90s. Not the perverse grotesquerie we are supposedly fighting to preserve" (138-39).
Bonus points for reference to Toffler's future shock arguments (87), which is simply an arriere garde postmodernist's reading of the basic marxist idea that all that is solid melts into air.
One of the great bits in this is that space combat occurs at distances such as "five hundred million kilometers" (76)--which makes quite a bit more sense than the insistence in Star Trek & Star Wars that space combat occurs basically face-to-face: if we have ICBMs and cruise missiles in the 20th century, Star Wars and Star Trek are revealed as science fiction that has adopted not 20th century, but rather 19th century doctrine.
Amusing that the war is caused by a failure to communicate properly (214) and was resolved when humanity evolved a collective consciousness that as able to speak with the collective consciousness of the enemy.
Recommended for those compliant and promiscuous by military law, persons working to erase hate-conditioning, and ones who have the desire to impose their ideas but not their will on others.