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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

4.1 (223 )
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4.1 (142 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Howard Cincinnati, OH, United States 12-19-09
    Howard Cincinnati, OH, United States 12-19-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Howie"

    After listening to Mr.Caputos' book I have only one word, which is used in the Marine Corps.
    That word being "OUTSTANDING"!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle Fredericksburg, VA, USA 11-11-09
    Kyle Fredericksburg, VA, USA 11-11-09
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    "Excellent First Person Narrative"

    Wonderfully read first person account of a young Marine officer in the early days of the Vietnam War. For us history/military fans, it is a nice break from the dry Generals perspective, to what it is like to be a grunt in the field. Worth the buy.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Huntsville, Albania 10-29-12
    John Huntsville, Albania 10-29-12 Member Since 2006
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    "Couldn't stop listening"
    What did you love best about A Rumor of War?

    Gritty realism of combat


    What did you like best about this story?

    Transformation of Caputo's view on war


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Many were memorable, none stand out


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

    No


    Any additional comments?

    None

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Ozark, AL, United States 09-17-12
    Michael Ozark, AL, United States 09-17-12 Member Since 2003
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    "OK but....."
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    As Viet Nam vet i would not recommend it to those wanting to learn more about that conflict.


    Would you recommend A Rumor of War to your friends? Why or why not?

    I would not recommend it highly as it is not written with pop.


    Have you listened to any of L. J. Ganser’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was A Rumor of War worth the listening time?

    It was worth it to me because as a Viet Nam vet I had a proper frame of reference. THis is not done in a historical framework.


    Any additional comments?

    I enjoy a more historical approach.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glenn Caboolture, Australia 09-10-12
    Glenn Caboolture, Australia 09-10-12 Member Since 2011
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    "The Reality of the U.S in the Vietnam War"
    What made the experience of listening to A Rumor of War the most enjoyable?

    The narration by L.J. Ganser convinced me I was listening to Philip Caputo. Caputo's story is believable and frank. It does not gloss over or dwell on the mistakes of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war nor does it dwell on them. This is a story of political naivety and the reality of being a professional soldier.
    As a former soldier of the Vietnam era I could identify with his experiences and empathized with the changes he went through from enlistment to his days of being a war correspondent.


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

    The near mental breakdown when Philip Caputo started to visualise all around him as corpses.


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

    He sounded like what I would expect Philip Caputo to sound like. He had peculiarities of military jargon down pat. His range voices was true to the individual characters and allowed the listener to immerse themselves in the story and kept the characters different and distinctive.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When Caputo realises that his classmate was one of the statistics that he had to record.


    Any additional comments?

    A fantastic listen and a true to life account of Marine officer's experience in early Vietnam.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil Morphett Vale, Australia 02-12-10
    Phil Morphett Vale, Australia 02-12-10
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    "Excellent"

    An enthralling account of life as a soldier in Vietnam, told with an honesty that endears you to the author despite the sometimes graphic nature of the details. By his own admission, Caputo wanted to shock people with this book and there were a lot of occasions where he succeeded for me. There is no sugar coating, nor tales of his own heroics, just a decent account of a soldier and his comrades and the events that contributed to the deterioration of their mental state.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    12-03-12
    12-03-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Impressive first hand account"

    It's a first hand account of a Marine in Vietnam, from the first months to heavy combat action. He served multiple times and had many different roles. It's about anecdotes, processes and psyche. It's diary style focussed on micro developments. Very, very impressive. The fast pace style of writing is brilliantly met by the narrator.

    If you are looking for a story on first hand experience in Vietnam, this is the one to read. If you want the overall picture of the USA in Vietnam you need a different title.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patrick Austin, TX, United States 10-08-12
    Patrick Austin, TX, United States 10-08-12 Member Since 2011

    I like autumn night times. Curtains drawn. The dim lamp. Chaired with a book. Fireside hours. A warm peace.

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    "Want Vietnam? You got it"

    The events within this book will stay with you for quite a long time. Vivid descriptions of jungle life and what the soldiers felt are told in easy to understand ways. However, I cannot say that this beats "Dispatches." Yes, you do get a first hand account of how hard soldiers had it, BUT, I have to say I felt more "emotion" with Dispatches. A Rumor of War is a good book, although not my favorite Vietnam book. It's definitely worth a try if you're searching around for a good wartime novel. I swear I've heard the narrator on some voice over on goofy blooper shows and commercials. I just didn't feel he "fit" the overall message the story was trying to portray.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gerry milton, ON, Canada 09-20-12
    gerry milton, ON, Canada 09-20-12 Member Since 2010
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    "You have to stay with it"

    The first half of the book documents the boredom of the war in painful detail and makes it difficult to stay with the book. The second half is much better as more incidents and action occurs. Philip's insightful commentary about the limits of man's endurance and the uselessness of the war is quite unique and while the concepts are far from new, he presented them in a unique & honest perspective of someone who lived the experiences.

    I was less than impressed with the narration and, while his delivery was good, the tone of L.J. Ganser's voice was not appealling for me. Others may not share my view and I suggest you sample it first. Finally, the frequent, silly, vocal war noises do not help the book and are distracting.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT, United States 07-18-12
    Sara SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT, United States 07-18-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Very powerful. Really tells it as it was."

    I was blown away by this book. The text was incredibly strong. Everything was described fully and with precision. It was gripping and fascinating. I really felt that I was hearing the whole truth, because he includes many incidents that sound like war crimes, including incidents that he was involved in and put on trial for. In some ways it was difficult to listen to, but I felt that as an American who was a young child during that war, I needed to know.

    The war, as Caputo tells it and I understand it, was a terrible mix of good intentions on the part of some, and arrogance, foolishness and dreadful judgment by many. It is hard to come to terms with the waste and loss. I wish it hadn't happened... yet on a personal note, my sister-in-law's father was an officer in the South Vietnamese army and they fled to the US in the early 1970s. If not for this stupid and tragic war, she, and hence my nephew and niece, would not be part of my family. So I can't wish it hadn't happened and anyway, of course, my wishes regarding past events are meaningless. It did happen.

    The narrator was excellent. Something about his voice-- the confident and controlled delivery, I think-- suited the material to a T.

    I only came across this book because it was included in one of Audible's promotions. I'm grateful because it made a huge impression. One of the more memorable books I've experienced in the past several years.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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