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A Rumor Of War

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,087 Ratings  ·  407 Reviews
In March 1965, Marine Lieutnant Philip J. Caputo landed in Danang with the first ground combat unit committed to fight in Vietnam. Sixteen months later, having served on the line in one of modern history's ugliest wars, he returned home - physically whole, emotionally wasted, his youthful idealism shattered. A decade later, Caputo would write in A Rumor of War, 'This is si ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 5th 1999 by Pimlico (first published 1977)
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The Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienMatterhorn by Karl MarlantesDispatches by Michael HerrA Rumor Of War by Philip CaputoThe Quiet American by Graham Greene
Best Literature About the Vietnam War
4th out of 217 books — 385 voters
Band of Brothers by Stephen E. AmbroseBlack Hawk Down by Mark BowdenHiroshima by John HerseyOn Killing by Dave GrossmanLone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell
Best Non-fiction War Books
52nd out of 922 books — 1,332 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nov 08, 2014 El rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've talked before about a class I took in high school that didn't feel completely worthless the way a lot of my other classes did. I took that class because one of my brothers took it the first year it was offered and I remember thinking, "Man, when I'm a Senior, I hope that class is still offered." Because there was a tradition of my brothers getting to take cool classes (like Latin) or having cool teachers (and I'd get the crazy assholes) and then the classes and teachers not existing by the ...more
Larry Bassett
Jul 30, 2013 Larry Bassett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, nonfiction, history
This book does not pretend to be history. It has nothing to do with politics, power, strategy, national interests, or foreign policy; nor is it an indictment of the great men who lead us into Indochina and whose mistakes were paid for with the blood of some quite ordinary men. In a general sense, it is simply a story about war, about the things men do in war and the things war does to them. More strictly, it is a soldier’s account of our longest conflict, the only one we have ever lost, as well
Patrick McCoy
Dec 21, 2007 Patrick McCoy rated it it was amazing
I just finished Philip Caputo’s riveting A Rumor of War. It clearly belongs in the elite pantheon of books about the Vietnam War along with Michael Herr’s Dispatches, Tim O’Brien’s Going After Cacciato and The Things They Carried, and Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History. Caputo writes about his experiences that led him to enlist in 1965 in order to satisfy his romantic ideals about war. His experiences vary as his company defends an airstrip then engages in search and destroy missions before bei ...more
Oct 13, 2011 Jake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, sociology
"A Rumor of War" is a deeply disturbing book. Like "Dispatches", by Michael Herr, it is a gripping first person narrative of what it was like to be in Vietnam- but Herr was there as a war correspondent, and the worst action he sees is brief visits to forward camps. Caputo, on the other hand, is a Second Lt. in the Marines, and his best days in Vietnam are much worse than the worst things Herr reported in his book. Months spent sleeping in foxholes deep in VC territory, dozens of fellow soldiers ...more
Aug 12, 2010 Alexandra rated it liked it
This memior of a marine lt in Vientam was hard for me to rate. On a technical score, this book earns three stars. It is well-written and readable. In terms of content and message, however, I could not say that I certainly liked it.

Caputo was about 6 months ahead of my dad on the Quantico-to-Vietnam trajectory. Many of the officers mentioned in the book were men my dad also knew/served with. I read the book largely to learn more about my dad's experiences as a young marine in training and in com
Aug 30, 2010 SirLordBaltimore rated it it was ok
Caputo's incorporation of sensationalism in this work betrays him miserably. It seems as if someone (like a producer or agent) may have whispered into this guy's ear, listen don't be afraid to ham it up a little. You want this book to sell, right? Follow this pattern, etc.

Notwithstanding the undeniable factual events he shares with the reader, Caputo's sense of sincerity is clearly and unfortunately diluted with his zealous ambition to be more skilled at the craft of writing than he actually is.
Erin Rouleau
Jan 23, 2008 Erin Rouleau rated it liked it
Recommended to Erin by: Breanne Larsen
Easy read. He had some good points on war that of course never having been through a war - I would never have thought about.

It wasn't as philosophical or even maybe horrific as I needed. He didn't sell me on why exactly did the Vietnam war effect men's psyches more than other wars. I guess that's what I was looking for. To understand their psyche. He only would delve into that a few times.

I guess I felt this book was a good overall view on the Vietnam war. But really it didn't make me feel a wh
John Maberry
Mar 13, 2008 John Maberry rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially young neocons
Caputo's book doesn't need another review. I will offer mine anyway, if nothing else to contrast it with Wolff's "In Pharoah's Army," an inferior book. First, I wish I could have written "A Rumor of War." I wasn't ready to write about the war soon after I returned from Vietnam, in 1967. Not even after a couple years of college in 1971, when I camped on the mall with 1,200 other Vietnam Vets Against the War (including John Kerry). Caputo had the advantage of education on me. Not just that, I need ...more
Alfred Searls
May 23, 2012 Alfred Searls rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
In January of 1961 the newly elected President John F Kennedy stood on the steps of the Capital building in Washington and famously challenged the youth of America to “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country”.

Away in windy Chicago a young student at Loyola University knew just how to answer that call; he would join the United States Marine Corp and play a man’s part in defending the new Camelot against all enemies, foreign and domestic. A Rumor of War is P
Mitchell Knapp
May 20, 2015 Mitchell Knapp rated it it was amazing
I received Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War as a gift a few years ago, but did not read it until now. After reading it, I am glad I waited. Caputo’s memoir seems to be the type of book that as the reader ages, there are more thoughts he/she is able to extract from this terrific book.

Philip Caputo divides his memoir into three distinct sections. The first covers his reasons for enlisting in the Marine Corps prior to the war and his initial deployment as part of the first ground combat unit of the V
Bastian Greshake
Mar 18, 2014 Bastian Greshake rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I must say this is even a stronger book than Dispatches by Michael Herr, which I must have read last year or so. Herr's perspective is that of what we nowadays probably would call an embedded journalist. He accompanied the Vietnam war as a journalist for the Esquire, and while his account is disturbing in it's own way A Rumor Of War is even harder on the reader in that respect, as Caputo signed up for the USMC and was amongst the first US troops to be deployed. So you're not only confronted with ...more
Matt Adams
May 24, 2014 Matt Adams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war
Although I'm giving this book 5 stars, it's a little hard for me to simply say that I enjoyed it. It's not a pleasant read. It's dark. It's ugly. It's war. And this book throws you right in the midst of it. The reason I gave it 5 stars is because it's important. As Caputo says early on, there are plenty of TV shows and movies about war that may be exciting, but many of them focus on building this image of being a hero. Books such as this one strip the make up off and describe every horrific deta ...more
Shane Woolf
Aug 12, 2011 Shane Woolf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“The greatest tragedy is war, but so long as there is mankind, there will be war.” -Jomini, The Art of War

Emotionally powerful. Personally riveting. A simple story about war without all the preachy judgement and rhetoric. A perspective on infantry life written by an infantryman.

To quote Caputo,

“This book does not pretend to be history. It has nothing to do with politics, power, strategy, influence, national interests, or foreign policy; nor is it indictment of the great men who led us into In
Dec 18, 2013 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tremendously powerful memoir of a 2nd lieutenant in the Marines who was in the first wave of Marines coming into Vietnam in March of 1965. From gung-ho teenagers to hardened cynical veterans in just a few months, this book shows, in no uncertain terms, the misery and futility of the war and the damage it did to all the participants and non-combatants alike. Read it in conjunction with Patriots: An Oral History of Vietnam (which is told in interviews with US troops, ARVN, Viet Cong, North Vietnam ...more
Jason Young
Dec 10, 2015 Jason Young rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I was hesitant about this book for the first half of this book, and wouldn't have recommended it to most people. In the first two thirds of the book Caputo was a young marine, and like a lot of marine he thought he was God's gift to war. But after he becomes a monster and through that more human the story comes home and his reflections allow the previous writing to take hold of you. It's still not my favorite Vietnam memoir, but very good nonetheless.
Nov 01, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it
I bought a spare used paperback version of this book for 3.95. I think it represents the most focused narrative of what combat must have meant for American soldiers in the Vietnam War. Similar to Norman Mailer's Naked and the Dead in its focus on the present, limited perspective of soldiers in combat on a small island in the Pacific, little connected to the sweep of the conflict, or perhaps played out a thousand times, all merging into the course of the war.

In this book the author Caputo keeps h
Jun 22, 2012 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
Philip Caputo enlisted in the Marines in 1960, and admits to being motivated by both a desire to escape the humdrum existence of suburban Illinois and the glowing enthusiasm engendered by the euphoria that was Camelot. He envisioned himself as a courageous patriot, becoming a man by surviving the rigors of military life, and being eventually discharged as a recognized hero. After college and officers' training, he became part of the first group of Americans to be dropped on Vietnamese soil; this ...more
Jan 07, 2012 Dusty rated it really liked it
Recommended to Dusty by: Carly Sweder
Shelves: read-in-2012
I'll admit that it took me awhile to warm up to Caputo's rather technical account of his year in Vietnam. The problem is that I'd already read Tim O'brien's bewitching The Things They Carried, which sets the bar for literary memoirs of soldiering in the Indochinese swamplands absurdly high, and while Caputo's book isn't without literary merit, he can't quite match O'brien's poetry. Plenty of men get blown up in both books. In A Rumor of War those men are exactly what they are: too-young American ...more
Carol Storm
Nov 01, 2013 Carol Storm rated it it was amazing
I loved this book as a kid, but since I met several Marines during the Desert Storm era who said it inspired them to enlist I don't think it qualifies as an anti-war classic.

The truth is, Caputo is much better at capturing the allure of the Marine Corps -- the chance to belong, to prove oneself, to escape the trivial and materialistic side of suburban life -- than he is at describing the destructive horrors of war. One almost gets the impression that the anti-war stuff at the very end was tacke
Jul 18, 2009 Louis rated it really liked it
This was a book club selection. And not by me :-)

Philip Caputo was a marine lieutenant among the first units in Vietnam in 1965. And his unit, like all such who are the first of their generation to go to war, was unsure of what they would find, looking to their few veterans from Korea to what it would be like, and the guidance from above. And the guidance from above was that it would be easy.

It was not. And Caputo shows what it was like at the ground, the walking into the unknown, not knowing wh
PennsyLady (Bev)
Jan 31, 2016 PennsyLady (Bev) rated it really liked it
Shelves: vietnam

This is the story of Marine Lieutenant Philip J. Caputo who landed at Danang (March 1965) with the first ground combat unit deployed to Vietnam.
The story is his and the men with whom he fought.

An overview says it better than I.
"Upon it's publication in 1977, it shattered America’s indifference to the fate of the men sent to fight in the jungles of Vietnam.

Although I wasn't totally immersed in L. J. Ganser as reader,please realize that it was just my personal preference.

“Every war seems to
Kent Hinckley
Jan 25, 2015 Kent Hinckley rated it liked it
A Marine's story originally published in 1977 about his combat assignment to Vietnam. It shows his change from a normal person to putting callouses around his heart and doing some dark things. It was an awful time, but unfortunately our country didn't learn from history or Mr. Caputo's observations and activities.
Jan 10, 2016 Wayne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, war
Phillip Caputo went to Vietnam in 1965 during the very early stages of the Vietnam war as a marine eager to fight for his country and believing the war could be won in months. He left over a year later completely dissilusioned, believing the war was unwinable and a complete waste of many lives.
This book is a memoir of his experiences both as a fighting soldier and as a staff officer. The book is both exciting and sad. By describing his experiences and not by preaching he manages to show the co
Jun 12, 2015 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
March of 1965, Marine Lt. Philip Caputo landed at Danang with the first ground combat unit committed to fight in Vietnam.
This is his account of the 16 months he spent on the front lines, so to speak because there were no front lines in Vietnam.
Gerald Thomson
Jun 13, 2015 Gerald Thomson rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this book to try and learn what it was like on the ground during Vietnam. The book did not disappoint. From the boredom to the terror, from the heat to the monsoons, from the fresh recruits to the crusted veterans, Caputo lays it all out in plain sight. Though all memoirs tend to make the author look better than they probably were, it is Caputo’s observations of others that help to provide insight into the mind of the soldier. There is great wisdom to be learned as we still pass ...more
Jul 20, 2007 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended by my brother-in-law Aaron - this was a powerful book. While there there certainly parts that grip you powerfully and hold you - the real strength of this book is in its timelessness. The issues to an infantryman in Vietnam are no different than the issues of an infantryman in Iraq. It's a war whose purpose is questioned and human nature is human nature. Anger is anger. VietCong = Iraqi Insurgent.
It begs the question, 'when will we learn our lesson?' America is about to lose it's ne
Apr 25, 2016 Leif rated it really liked it
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May 05, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it

The book A rumor of War was an intense and overwhelming look into the life of a soldier. Veteran Philip Caputo fought in the Vietnam War and shared some experiences he had while fighting. While the book was extremely well written it was very sad and hard to read at times.

I think the author was trying to open up the eyes of people who have never been involved with war or heard much detail about it. Caputo doesn’t hide the tragedies of the war behind a love story or a happy ending, he is very str
May 05, 2015 Kristen rated it really liked it
If you are looking for a book that describes a marine’s condition in the Vietnam war, then Philip Caputo’s novel, “A Rumor of War,” is the book for you. I liked how Philip does not try to sugar coat how things were in Vietnam, and how he gets right to the point so we see how bad the war was. I also enjoyed how he does not leave out how the marines dealt with their emotions and what they did when they were bored.

The theme of the novel is the Vietnam war. The author intended to let his readers kn
Alec Aurelio
May 05, 2015 Alec Aurelio rated it really liked it
Rumor of War can be described in many ways. When you first pick it up and begin reading you assume that it is going to be non-stop action for the next 300 or so pages. You are not exactly all right.
The author, Philip Caputo, was a young man when he joined the Vietnam war in 1965. Wanting to become a war hero he figured he'd be praised for being a soldier and end up loving the war he was about to fight in. He struggles with the aspect of war and killing people. He really hates it. And I mean rea
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American author and journalist. Latest book is the travel memoir THE LONGEST ROAD. Best-known for A Rumor of War , a best-selling memoir of his experiences during the Vietnam War.
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“Before you leave here, Sir, you’re going to learn that one of the most brutal things in the world is your average nineteen-year-old American boy.” 12 likes
“The essence of the Marine Corps experience, I decided, was pain.” 4 likes
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