Vietnam memoir: A romour of War

Rumor of War by Philip Caputo

Rumor of War by Philip Caputo, a four-decade-old classic Vietnam memoir, is still relevant today. The story is about more than one soldier. The publication of the book in 1977 destroyed America's callous attitude toward the fate of the men deployed to battle in the Vietnam jungles. It was no longer merely an essential text concerning the Vietnam War after its publication; it had become a classic, recognized work on prior wars. Caputo writes on what men do in war and what war does to men.

The Beginning of the Story

The story begins in March 1965, with Marine Lieutenant Philip J. Caputo arriving in Da Nang with the first foot combat unit sent to Vietnam. After sixteen months' service on the line of the ugliest wars in modern history, he returns home. The Lieutenant was whole physically but totally wasted emotionally having lost the idealism of his youth for good. This paper dives into the book to bring out the author's context in the thesis.

The Effects of War

Caputo writes to bring out the both sides of the effects of war. The war does not only affect or eliminate the enemy but leaves ugly scars in the minds of those who witness and participate in it. The combat men go through so much in the quest to fight and survive and when the war is over what is left of them may talk an entire lifetime to amend.

The Author's Perspective on War

In his tender age, the author signs up with the Marine Corps having in mind the start of a new exciting life away from the dreary comfortable life in the small mid-western town. He is in for a heroic story, at least that was what he thought, of few months to end deadly wars and return home the admired hero everybody wants to hear about his story. To his ultimate shock, war was not an easy task; Vietnamese jungles and Cong are a rude awakening to those who do not play by the military training rules. In the middle of the forest, the author gets to understand what war is, the enemy, and himself. The lifestyle he had grown up in of hot dogs, ice cream, and apple pies was a reverie. It was astounding how so many youths just like him desired to prove themselves men and without a doubt, they did not just like him know what they wanted to face in the name of patriotism.

Life on the Front Lines

While at Loyola College, the author gets a chance to enlist with the Marines' ROTC program where he learns much of Marine history, weaponry, and tactics in battle. Caputo, however, wants so much to get out there to the real adventure with the ultimate desire of experiences that will make him a man, and January 0f 1965 was his first chance. On landing at Danang for the first time with an average military exercise attitude, Caputo and his troupe take to checking maps, military base, and strategize the snipers. The war is slow to commence, too slow for their excitement.

The Brutal Reality of War

The 22nd April attack on another company by the Viet Cong stages the offensive attacks. The Marines go in with their romantic perception against the monsoon rains, insects, diseases, and the random Viet Cong sniper fire. They peer through villages filled with hidden enemies, creeping along passages made up of ambushes and explosives. The Marines have little time to sleep while eating cold food and slashing through distances in the rainy jungle. The environmental torture is not as harsh as the tension and knowledge that any moment one of the Marines could go down from stray sniper shooting of the Vietnamese Cong. Gradually, Caputo and his team begins depicting symptoms of psychological trauma, and indeed the stress loads are high. Their anger makes them burn down the villages and develop hatred. The romantic notion of war they came in with has turn into a harsh and bitter reality of unending weary chase with a jungle-smart enemy.

The Impact of War on Caputo

Caputo amidst the boiling real war mood is rid of the firing line for training in Japan. His new role as an assistant adjutant is even more frustrating due to the persistence on the paper rule that has no meaning to jungle troops. His reports teach him of death, the mortalities increase both in the Marines and the Viet Cong, and he realizes war wrecks lives. It is this profound realization that makes him question what America is doing in Vietnam. He hates the comfortable office job, and the information on several of his company men having been killed leads to him developing stress from the anxiety and hallucinations. Caputo is not the only one, many around him are also sick with stress. His strong desire to fight with his men kept him in spirit for life, and November 1966 saw him back to line duty. The people in line do not know relief but constant tension. Caputo, within the first day, crumbles.

The Ugly Side of War

The front lines' life goes on with tired, wet, hungry, angry, and sad men. The fight has wiped out their ever view of war as desirable. This leads them to the inhumane act of burning a village with hundreds of Vietnamese civilians and enjoying it. They are totally out of sanity. Amidst the madness, Caputo orders for the capture and possible execution of the two Viet Cong in a nearby village as clap back to all Marines lost in battle. Interestingly, this rule leads to him facing a jury on murder allegations five months later. He is lost of the meaning of events as his assignment was to kill Viet Cong which he did. The court finds him not guilty. However, Caputo realizes how much the military makes cover-ups with war. The Marines understand how worthless their endless war tribulations are and at this point, they only want to go home. Caputo left Vietnam in 1967.

Reflections on the War

Ten years later, the author returns to Vietnam. He is on a mission on the Chicago Tribune as a field correspondent. He is to give a report of the final moments that occurred during the war before the North Vietnamese overran Saigon. Caputo is full with feelings from the war. There is a lot of weight from the impact of the decade-long war. There is fear among the people who want to leave the land by all means possible. Caputo thinks of the war, and it was deep. It is 29th of April 1975, the ten years of war have seen human lives go to waste and humanity forgotten. Resources have been wasted, and a beautiful country rendered inhabitable.

An American Conscience

The great thing about the author's story is his stage presence. He witnessed and indulged in the war and the calm although not as the victor he expected but an emotional wreck full with psychological wounds. The ugly is not the only reason for his scars but ultimately what is worse is even the reason behind the wars. Military men go to battlefields having in mind the desire to exterminate the enemy and save innocent lives as well as getting the heroic feel. What they do not understand is that they are in many instances killing innocent lives marked as enemies with a political motive not defined to them.

The Legacy of the American War

The memoir is an indication of both the society's indifference along with inhumanity from generals and politicians on the horrors of the War that took place in Vietnam There seemed to be an undying quest to destroy and dehumanize their soldiers. Caputo speaks just like an American conscience; he is a truthful legacy of the American war story.


Caputo, Phillip. A romour of War. New York: Henry Holt and Company LLC, 1977.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price