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A Rumor of War | [Philip Caputo]

A Rumor of War

When it first appeared, A Rumor of War brought home to American readers, with terrifying vividness and honesty, the devastating effects of the Vietnam War on the soldiers who fought there. And while it is a memoir of one young man's experiences and therefore deeply personal, it is also a book that speaks powerfully to today's students about the larger themes of human conscience, good and evil, and the desperate extremes men are forced to confront in any war.
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Publisher's Summary

When it first appeared, A Rumor of War brought home to American readers, with terrifying vividness and honesty, the devastating effects of the Vietnam War on the soldiers who fought there. And while it is a memoir of one young man's experiences and therefore deeply personal, it is also a book that speaks powerfully to today's students about the larger themes of human conscience, good and evil, and the desperate extremes men are forced to confront in any war.

A platoon commander in the first combat unit sent to fight in Vietnam, Lieutenant Caputo landed at Danang on March 8, 1965, convinced that American forces would win a quick and decisive victory over the Communists. Sixteen months later, and without ceremony, Caputo left Vietnam a shell-shocked veteran whose youthful idealism and faith in the rightness of the war had been utterly shattered. A Rumor of War tells the story of that trajectory and allows us to see and feel the reality of the conflict as the author himself experienced it, from the weeks of tedium hacking through scorching jungles, to the sudden violence of ambushes and firefights, to the unbreakable bonds of friendship forged between soldiers, and finally to a sense of the war as having no purpose other than the fight for survival.

Most troubling, Caputo gives us an unflinching view not only of remarkable bravery and heroism but also of the atrocities committed in Vietnam by ordinary men so numbed by fear and desperate to survive that their moral distinctions had collapsed.

More than a statement against war, Caputo's memoir offers readers today a profoundly visceral sense of what war is and, as the author says, of "the things men do in war and the things war does to men".

©1996 Philip Caputo; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Gilda 07-30-13
    Gilda 07-30-13

    hi! :)

    ratings
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    "awesome"

    I really enjoyed this book. It makes you feel like you are there and like if you know the characters personally. If you like war or history books you have to read this book and even if you don't like history you have to read it. Its about the Vietnam War through the eyes of an American soldier.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PC 09-03-12
    PC 09-03-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "The realities of war, as seen by a young officer"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book, unusual for its infantry Lieutenant's perspective, should be required reading for learning why we must not resort to war except in the most threatening circumstances. Vietnam certainly was no threat to the US, and so many of our young soldiers died or were wounded for so little.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of A Rumor of War?

    The descriptions of what it was really like to invade a poor village are impossible to not remember indefinitely.


    What about L. J. Ganser’s performance did you like?

    The voice of the narrator represented the author's persona very convincingly. Also, it was not fatiguing in any way.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I understood for the first time some of the reasons why some soldiers violate the USA's war-fighting rules and ethics. Yet this type of conduct is still inexcusable but is rarely prosecuted.


    Any additional comments?

    I was in college during the early years of the Vietnam war, and this book brought back many memories of those times. Many of my friends fought in the war, as did my high-school ROTC teacher (who was killed by a land mine).

    Based on the USA's history since Vietnam, it's now clear that as a country we simply do not learn from involvement in a pointless, immoral war. Our soldiers and their families and friends bear the burdens.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Micah Nauck Nacogdoches, TX United States 08-27-12
    Micah Nauck Nacogdoches, TX United States 08-27-12 Member Since 2011
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    9
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    "Will we ever learn"
    Any additional comments?

    This book is a classic. Being an Iraq War veteran I see that few things have changed since the 1960's.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Olaf Jakarta, Indonesia 08-19-12
    Olaf Jakarta, Indonesia 08-19-12

    German by birth - cosmopolitan by conviction. A CFO enjoying dynamic and multicultural Asia. Classic car and history buff and scuba diver.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "He was there and is able to put it into words"

    To me an outstanding piece of literature - honest and authentic in all facettes of the situation and personality. I admire Caputo's ability to express his emotions and to describe the transformation of his personality over time. It is not only the violent situations which are fascinating but also the description of the administrative perversion which goes along with war and the inhumane bureaucracy. It is an "All Quit at the Western Front" transported to Vietnam with an equal achievement of manifestation against war and it is setting a monument for the casualties on both side. No heroism - straight forward and truthful Vietnam experience. Thank you Philip.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tara 06-13-12
    Tara 06-13-12
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    "Powerful"

    As hard to put down as any action/war novel. The narrative is engrossing. Ganser handles the voice perfectly.
    An amazing piece of work that stays with the reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barry 04-05-12
    Barry 04-05-12
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    4
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    "Performance lacking a bit"
    Would you consider the audio edition of A Rumor of War to be better than the print version?

    Yes except for the notes below.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The visuals that th writing gives you. Coputo is a master with words, specially when it's his own experiences he's writing about.


    What aspect of L. J. Ganser’s performance would you have changed?

    I would think he would check on pronunciation of words he's not familiar with. This is very distracting and detracts from the performance. It is not Yo-ko su ka, but Yo-kho-ska. This is only one of several errors made.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Any book about war makes me cry!!!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    john healy 06-19-10
    john healy 06-19-10 Member Since 2005
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    "rumor of war excellent"

    great writing about coming of age and disillusionment in Viet Nam.Great insight for a young man.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bionichands washington, d.c. area 03-24-10
    bionichands washington, d.c. area 03-24-10 Member Since 2009

    procrastinator

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    "Not sure it holds up"

    I've read a good number of books and memoirs from Vietnam, not sure how I am just getting around to this one. Its a good book, especially in its very vivid descriptions of Caputo's military experience. However, the vast majority of these accounts I felt like I've seen in dozens of movies or subsequent books. (ie The new troops arriving in Vietnam and seeing body bags going out. The old jaded troops looking at the fresh new troops coming in. Its the first ten minutes of PLATOON!)

    I know this isn't Caputo's fault and can understand that the book might have been groundbreaking on its release. But in the epilogue, Caputo says his goal was to have written a book which his great grandchildren could read and still find an impact. I'm not sure this book quite lives up to that. Its not as strong as the subsequent Vietnam stories it may have paved the way for.

    The biggest issue with the book is that it is not so much a story as a series of events strung together and described. Calling it a memoir doesn't change the fact that this makes the book less compelling. I recently read Jim Webb's FIELDS OF FIRE which was released at the same time and I think was just an overall better book because it had a better narrative.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
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