Mandella starts out as a foot soldier in man's thousand-year war against the Taurans and ends as a reluctant major. Spanning the stars at faster than light speeds, Mandella and his comrades age only months as the centuries zip by on an earth that becomes increasingly foreign. But few soldiers will return to the altered home planet; in battles fought with powered suits and other stranger weapons, the odds for survival approach zero. This war is the opposite of the one Heinlein glorified in Starship Troopers (1959) -- bloody, cruel and meaningless. This is a splendid, thoughtful adventure.