I’m not a big science fiction fan. But I am a big fan of the book “Starship Troopers.” While I was a Company Commander my Battalion Commander (LTC Baker) assigned his subordinate officers to read this book for an OPD. At first, I wasn’t very excited about the idea. I had seen the movie and enjoyed it, but didn’t think I would like the book.
From the time I first picked this book up and started reading it, I was in complete awe. Not only is the book entertaining, but it is absolutely loaded with great quotes about life and military leadership. I’ve picked 17 quotes from the book that really inspired me and shared them below. Over the next 17 days I am going to write a daily post about each quote and share my insights to it. I guess you could call it a mini-series, the first of its kind on my website.
If you haven’t read Starship Troopers yet I hope you will order a copy and follow along with me. You can learn a lot about leadership and about life from this book. My goal is not to reveal what’s in the book. I don’t want to review the plot and spoil it for you. Instead, I simply want to share some of the golden nuggets that really helped me become a better military leader and citizen, just from reading the book.
This is the first post in the mini-series and there will be 17 additional posts in the next two and half weeks. Please check back to my website each day to follow along in this series. As you follow along, I’d love if you left a comment with each post to tell me what you think.
Here are my favorite 17 quotes and lessons I found in the book Starship Troopers:
Lesson # 1: “But Jelly didn’t have to maintain discipline among privates because he maintained discipline among his non-coms and expected them to do likewise.”
Lesson # 2: “A man ought to fill each spot on his way up.”
Lesson # 3: “There mustn’t be any shadow of doubt when you give an order, not in combat.”
Lesson # 4:“Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.”
Lesson # 5: “You would find it much easier than to instill moral virtue – social responsibility – into a person who doesn’t have it, doesn’t want it, and resents having the burden thrust on him. This is why we make it so hard to enroll, so easy to resign. Social responsibility above the level of family, or at most of tribe, requires imagination – devotion, loyalty, all the higher virtues, – which a man must develop himself; if he has them forced down him, he will vomit them out.”
Lesson # 6: “They wait for the sure voice of command – while seconds trick away – and it’s up to you to be that voice, make decisions, give the right orders … and not only the right ones, but in a calm, unworried tone.” … a strange voice with panic in it can turn the best combat team in the Galaxy into leaderless, lawless, fear-crazed mob.”
Lesson # 7: “It’s a lot easier to die than it is to use your head.”
Lesson # 8: “…Your life belongs to your men and is not yours to throw away in a suicidal reach for glory… and that your life isn’t yours to save, either, if the situation requires that you expend it.”
Lesson # 9: “There never have has been an outfit in which officers and men were more dependent on each other than they are in the M.I., and sergeants are the glue that holds us together. Never forget it.”
Lesson # 10: “To direct a war, or even to plan a single battle and mount the operation, you have to have a theory of games, operational analysis, symbolic logic, pessimistic synthesis, and a dozen other skull subjects.”
Lesson # 11: “In the mass wars of the XXth century it sometimes took 70,000 men (fact!) to enable 10,000 to fight.”
Lesson # 12: “But you can’t buy fighting spirit. It’s scarce.”
Lesson # 13: “What kind of an army has more “officers” than corporals? (And more noncoms than privates!) An army organized to lose wars – if history means anything. An army that is mostly organization, red tape, and overhead, most of whose “soldiers” never fight.”
Lesson # 14: “The M.I. never commissions a man simply to fill a vacancy.”
Lesson # 15: “Officers are supposed to look relaxed son. An officer can’t look scared or tense; it’s contagious.”
Lesson # 16: “Man has no moral instinct. He is not born with moral sense. You were not born with it, I was not – and a puppy has none. We acquire moral sense, when we do, through training, experience, and hard sweat of the mind.”
Lesson # 17: “Citizenship is an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part…and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live.”
Once again, in the next 17 days I will write a blog post to elaborate on each lesson, sharing my own thoughts and insights. I hope you will follow along and share your thoughts by leaving a comment to each post.