Rumor of War by Phillip Caputo
RUMOR OF WAR BY PHILIP J. CAPUTO
Rumor of War by Phillip Caputo
The novel, A rumor of war, brings into light the story of a naive young man, Philip J. Caputo, who joined the Marine Corps to participate in the Vietnam War. Since he was a Loyola University graduate, he was ranked as a lieutenant, and thus, was sent to serve in Danang in the March of 1965, with the first ground fighting unit in Vietnam. When Caputo left the U.S.A, he was still a youth who had a lot of illusions about the war that had been instilled by the idealistic American leaders about America’s supremacy and how it had never lost a war. The title of the book, A Rumor of War, is based on these illusions, which were later shattered by the extreme dehumanization and brutality that Caputo faced in Danang. In his memoir, Caputo makes his readers understand how it felt like to be a soldier through the utilization of vivid descriptions of the muddy, hot, rainy jungles and the military environment. In addition, Caputo translates some of the key military terminologies such as “big Ivan” and “ARVNs” so as to give his readers a clear understanding of his intended message. He expresses his personal emotions, inner thoughts and desires, as well as the outlook of his colleagues in a way that makes his readers envision how what he experienced during the war changed him from being an innocent young man to being a heartbroken war veteran.
Through his stories, Caputo explains how soldiers came together as a team to undertake challenging operations, despite the trials and tribulations they faced. These brave men had only each other to lean on during and even after the war. This novel, thus, is not a collection of a single person’s experiences, but a compilation of numerous war stories. Nevertheless, some individuals have criticized this collection of firsthand knowledge with claims of bias or inaccuracies since it only captures certain aspects of the war. This is, however, not true since according to the author, during the war period, the attention of most American civilians was focused on politics, and not the psychological damage that the war soldiers faced. Basing on the author’s personal viewpoint, it is easy to envision how the soldiers changed their sense of patriotism for those who were innocent in the war. These psychological wounds were severe and solely defeated the troops even before the enemy could get to them.
According to Caputo, war has the ability to make man mature past anyone’s expectation. This is because before joining the war, young soldiers felt invincible and carried along a certain level of nationalistic pride. However, after joining other soldiers, their American dream was fast replaced with an American nightmare that had no silver lining. Soon, the soldiers became blood-thirsty, ruthless individuals. According to the novel, Caputo was later taken from the forefront of the battle and posted at the headquarters in Danang, where his job was to keep records of the dead. This alteration, however, did not help him detach from the reality and brutality of death. This book, therefore, is meant to explain that, in addition to the damages caused by the war, America also lost a generation of young men who were forced to participate in the fighting.
Caputo, Philip. A rumor of war. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1977.