Customer Reviews for

Stranger in a Strange Land

Average Rating 4.5
( 346 )
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(226)

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(61)

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(35)

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(14)

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(10)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

23 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

In context, it's an amazing work

First published in 1961, this book has been accused of being a product of the 60's, but what we think of as 'the 60's' didn't begin until mid-decade. Amazingly, it sprang forth from the late 50's, where the American mind-set was neo-Puritanical, and women's and men's r...
First published in 1961, this book has been accused of being a product of the 60's, but what we think of as 'the 60's' didn't begin until mid-decade. Amazingly, it sprang forth from the late 50's, where the American mind-set was neo-Puritanical, and women's and men's roles were well defined. If anything, it helped shape the 60's, not the other way around. Sure, the language is a bit stilted by today's standards, and the allegory of the 'Man from Mars' is a bit heavy-handed. But several of the book's themes, including the concept of strong, intelligent, sexually liberated women, were quite radical at the time. Don't expect hard science fiction. The science is secondary to the human drama and the social commentary, which borders at times on satire. And yet the Fosterites, which I had thought were quite absurd when I first read this, are shockingly similar to many personality-cult religious movements that have enjoyed wide popularity since then. This book successfully mixes biting satire with a positive, even naive, view of how humans might live together in peace if they can learn to 'grok in fullness', to be freed from the slavery of their petty jealousies and narrow, ugly world views. While shining a glaring spotlight on some of humanity's less pleasant characteristics, it still manages to leave you with a hopeful vision of how things might truly be.

posted by Anonymous on September 19, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

False Advertising

This is NOT the proper, unabridged copy that was published at the writer originally intended. It's still an okay book. But it's simply not the same with almost 1/3 of the book missing.

posted by 11747332 on June 2, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2008

    In context, it's an amazing work

    First published in 1961, this book has been accused of being a product of the 60's, but what we think of as 'the 60's' didn't begin until mid-decade. Amazingly, it sprang forth from the late 50's, where the American mind-set was neo-Puritanical, and women's and men's roles were well defined. If anything, it helped shape the 60's, not the other way around. Sure, the language is a bit stilted by today's standards, and the allegory of the 'Man from Mars' is a bit heavy-handed. But several of the book's themes, including the concept of strong, intelligent, sexually liberated women, were quite radical at the time. Don't expect hard science fiction. The science is secondary to the human drama and the social commentary, which borders at times on satire. And yet the Fosterites, which I had thought were quite absurd when I first read this, are shockingly similar to many personality-cult religious movements that have enjoyed wide popularity since then. This book successfully mixes biting satire with a positive, even naive, view of how humans might live together in peace if they can learn to 'grok in fullness', to be freed from the slavery of their petty jealousies and narrow, ugly world views. While shining a glaring spotlight on some of humanity's less pleasant characteristics, it still manages to leave you with a hopeful vision of how things might truly be.

    23 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 31, 2010

    Heinlein and that IBM typer

    I just reread this after many years absence from Heinlein. I must have read everything he wrote by the time I was 20, so now that I'm...not 20...I thought I'd see whether he was actually the storytelling virtuoso I remembered, and also how the science-fiction elements of this particular story had held up. He scored on both counts. In regard to the second, he was just vague enough about the details of things like flying vehicles and various electronic devices that they could fit just as easily into the future as the past. But finally on page 401, while Miriam is describing the effort to produce a Martian dictionary, Heinlein slips: "[we] worked out a phonetic script for Martian, eighty-one characters. So we had an I.B.M. type worked over, using both upper and lower case...I type touch system in Martian now." But though there's that mechanical typewriter at large in this otherwise future-sounding time isn't so bad given all of the other things he manages to work into the story without making it sound dated. Looking for stuff like that, though, was just fun on the side. The story itself, and the telling, is as fresh now as it was way back when. He does what a good writer should do by making an implausible situation and not a few implausible characters, sound everyday real, and interesting enough to keep turning those pages (or thumbing that touch screen). And that's why, almost 40 years after this was first published, and 22 years after Heinlein's death, this is still around, and being read by yet another generation. With many more to come.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2007

    Grok Heinlein's Greatness. . . .

    I bought this book at a library's used-book sale for fifty cents, thinking it looked a bit interesting. I figured even if I didn't like it, oh well, no harm done, since I could just donate it back to the libary and they'd sell it again to someone else. Now, I wouldn't dream of giving it away or even selling it it's one of my favorites and has a permanent place in my book collection. I loved the mixture of science, religion, politics, and humanity. Valentine Michael Smith is a human who grew up on Mars. (He was the child of two of the people who went on a mission to explore the planet.) The other humans on the mission were killed and he was brought up by the Martians. On another mission to Mars, Valentine (now an adult) is brought back. He knows nothing about Earth or about humans, so he teaches them the way Martians do things. From him, his friends (who he calls 'water brothers') learn about love and 'grokking.' Heinlein usues the book and Michael's journey to express his views on religion, politics, and humanity. As we see humanity through Michael's eyes, we see it in a different way than we did before. I enjoyed it so much that I recently purchased the uncut version, based on Heinlein's original manuscript, which was cut down drastically for the first edition. This is a great book and I would definitely recommend it. Even if you don't like science fiction and don't agree with some of the things in the book, you'll still enjoy this book. Just come to it with an open mind and you'll 'grok' the greatness of Heinlein's 'Stranger in a Strange Land.'

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2012

    One of mine and my father' favorite books of all time

    If you read this book and find that you don't like it or perhaps just don't get the point of it all... think less of yourself for this failing and read it again!
    The chacters are immortal
    The story is timeless
    And the message transcendant

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    great book

    Stranger in a strange land is a fantastic work of sf about a man raised in an culture incomprehensibly different than any known human culture, who must learn the ways of humanity.

    And in my opinion that person who said it was utterly boring is most likely nearly illiterate.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    It was an epiphany

    I am in awe of this book. It challenges every belief known to man and is still invigorating. The imagery is surreal. Love the character of Jubal Harshaw kind of a stablizer.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2008

    Understanding

    Stranger in a Strange land was a good book that I could not close until I finished it. It was interesting, and I can't remember a time in the book that was dry. There was a lot happening, in a little bit of time. Smith was new to everything, and as much as he learned, he taught everyone a lot more. If you want to be a person, you should be someone like Smith.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2007

    Raised by Martians

    You've heard the stories where a child is raised by a different family, or even by wolves, well, this child is raised by Martians, and what an interesting story it is.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2007

    An Absolute Classic

    This book is fantastic. As the headline states, an absolute classic! The first 80 pages or so are kind of boring, but then it gets really good. If you like books with a lot of witty, smart-assy (yay my own word!) and well written dialogue, you'll love this book. Or if you just like cool science fiction novels, you'll like it. It does, however, have quite a few weird concepts, so if you are really conservative you might not like it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2004

    Outstanding

    This book was amazing. This book helps put a new perspective on life and the way we live as humans. All the pain and distruction we cause for power and other useless materialistic junk. Everyone should read this book atleast once. It's another way to look at everything, not just religion or government, but everything. My hat is off to Mr. Robert A. Heinlein and I plan to read the rest of your books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2002

    Heinlein at his best

    I've no doubt that Starship Troopers is Heinlein's best novel, but Stranger in a Strange Land is almost as good. And if you thought Heinlein had a lot to say in Starship, wait to you hear what all he has to say in Stranger. It's the story of a man, Valentine Michael Smith, who was born on Mars, grew up among the Martians, and then came back to Earth. This is the story of how he learns and what he does. And it is Heinlein's theological treatise. I found I liked parts 1 and 2 better, where Mike learns about humans and their culture. After that the book goes real heavy into the religion Smith creates. There it bogs down a little, feels a bit dated, and has the tendancy to be somewhat hypocritical of itself. But those are just a few minor flaws. This book is well-written, and one of my favorites.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2012

    Required Life Reading

    If there was ever a list compiled of books you MUST read in life, this would be on the top of the list. I first read this book after being introduced to Heinlein in my freshman year of college. Even then without some of my life experience I loved it.
    Throughout the years I have re-read it several times, each time 'groking' more of the deep message and lessons in this book.
    I think each person may get something different from this book. For me I look at it as trying to explain the core essence of what it is to be human if you were raised by non-humans. How do you learn HOW to be human...everyone on the planet is shaped by their environment...parents, family, culture, friends, experiences. Now imagine you are a full grown adult and you haven't been shaped by any of this, but rather an alien life. That is Michael.
    For those offended by all the sexual references in this book, again look at it from the outside, from NOT being human. Human beings are one of only two species on the planet that have sex for the pleasure of having sex. Like it or not, it is part of being human. Remember, Michael wasn't shaped by human social norms, to him sex is a celebration of life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2012

    One of a kind!!!

    If you are young enough to have not read this book go ahead a do it now. The plot is sublime, the writing delicious. This is one of the books that shaped the sixties and gave a whole different perspective to an entire generation. It's about so much more than just a man from Mars.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    Highly recommended. A classic and deservedly so!

    This is a phenomenal book. In a season where trash like 50 Shades of Grey is topping the charts (and I thought Twilight was bad enough!!), pick up this sci-fi classic and sink into an alternate future of Valentine Michael Smith and his cronies.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2015

    more from this reviewer

    Read this book over and over again.

    Read this book over and over again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2014

    Excellent

    Excellentj

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    Love it!

    This digital copy of the classic novel was great. Very few typos, well formatted.

    The story itself was incredibly engaging - I had a hard time putting it down. Even with a toddler's interruptions, I managed to read it in three days. I would definitely recommend this book to fans of sci-fi/philosophy stories as it is about the evolution of Man and the dichotomy of love and violence.

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  • Posted February 6, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    First Heilein I ever read, and hooked me immediately. I recomm

    First Heilein I ever read, and hooked me immediately. I recommend this and all of his books highly to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    Great novel

    Classic work from one oof science fiction's best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Hi

    Classic adult Heinlein, a tad outdated and a bit politically incorrect but still a great read.

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