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First off, I was a little hesitant to listen to this book because of the bad reviews but I took the plunge and it was worth it. Jack Campbell has served in the Navy and knows that navy life isn't very exciting. Campbell describes the day to day life a young ensign straight out of the Navy Academy. Campbell has also obviously read the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) and the JAGMAN (Judge Advocate General's Manual) and the Manual for Courts-Martial because he depicts a very realistic court room environment.
The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that A Just Determination is a lot like the Caine Mutiny just in space, however I enjoyed this a lot more than the Caine Mutiny.
The only unrealistic thing is that one officer in the course of his three year tour of duty on board his ship would be involved in four separate court martials, but that's the only way to make it into a series and the whole series is amazing.
A must read for military, sci-fi, and lawyer fans.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
I should say up front, I'm a fan of John Hemry's novels, especially the Lost Fleet Series. I liked this one as well. This is the story of a young military officer (the fact that the setting is in space is totally irrelevant to the story) who ponders the meaning of leadership when his commanding officer errs in the use of deadly force. It's sort of a "Caine Mutiny" in space, but without the mutiny. The story also reminds me of the sad tale of the USS Vincennes, whose crew shot down an Iranian airliner full of civilians.
I have a couple of minor criticisms.
First, the wholesale application of US Naval tradition to a future space force is somewhat disconcerting as it gives the novel a bit of a split personality. I think Hemry must have realized this because he did a much better job of imagining a space tradition in the Lost Fleet Series.
Second, because the story is told from the perspective of a junior officer (and perhaps for dramatic reasons), the portrayal of the commanding officer is annoyingly two-dimensional. In my experience, the situations surrounding the tough decisions soldiers make when lives swing in the balance are never black and white. Likewise, leaders are neither good nor evil, just human beings who, when thrown into the breach, are equally likely to do good or evil. Bottom line: a leader's reality is much more equivocal and ambiguous than Hemry makes it sound in this story. That said, there are no heroes here, no happy endings, and that makes the novel readable.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful