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A Rumor of War: The Classic Vietnam Memoir (40th Anniversary Edition) Paperback – August 1, 2017
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"Caputo’s troubled, searching meditations on the love and hate of war . . . are among the most eloquent I have read in modern literature." ―William Styron, The New York Review of Books
"[A Rumor of War] is unparalleled in its honesty, unapologetic in its candor, and singular in its insights into the minds and hearts of men in combat. . . . As powerful to read today as the day it was published." ―Kevin Powers, author of Yellow Birds, from the Foreword
"A singular and marvelous work." ―Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
"To call it the best book about Vietnam is to trivialize it. Heartbreaking, terrifying, and enraging, it belongs to the literature of men at arms." ―John Gregory Dunne, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"A Rumor of War is the troubled conscience of America speaking passionately, truthfully, and finally." ―Theodore Solotaroff, The New York Times Book Review
"Caputo’s searing account of life for an American at the end of a barrel of a gun is a classic." ―The Guardian (London)
"I hope many people in a position to affect future diplomatic and military moves will keep Caputo’s book by their bedside. It is tough and honest; it is so honest it makes the attraction of combat understandable. This is not a simple book. It may even be profound." ―Margaret Manning, The Boston Globe
"Only a warrior could have written A Rumor of War; warrior, honest man, powerful writer. His book is a grim triumph, and will live." ―Stephen Becker, Chicago Daily News
"In this powerful book, Caputo does what most of us have yet to do: face the enemy within and overcome the wounds." ―Peter J. Ognibene, The Washington Post Book World
"A book that must be read and reread―if for no other reason than as an eloquent statement against war. It is a superb book." ―Terry Anderson, The Denver Post
"This is news that goes beyond what the journalists brought us, news from the heart of darkness. It was long overdue." ―Newsweek
"A superb macabre evocation of those aimless searches and the destruction not only of property but of men’s bodies and minds as well. . . . At times, it is hard to remember that this is not a novel." ―William Shawcross, New Statesman
"This is a story of courage, comradeship, horror, and corruption, and at the same time a moving and bitter testimony. . . . Vivid, real, searchingly honest, it’s war writing of a high order." ―Publishers Weekly
"A Rumor of War is not only precious for its moral depth and gravity, it is also a battle narrative of the first rank." ―Geoffrey Wolff, New Times
"Every war seems to find its own voice: Caputo, it seems to me, is an eloquent spokesman for all we lost in Vietnam." ―C. D. B. Bryan, Saturday Review
"This is the hardest review I have ever had to write. I can tell you that A Rumor of War is the most daunting and significant personal account yet generated by our great dishonor, Vietnam. . . . Yes, but would you read it? Oh, I’d like to have authority over your life. For just this moment. To hit you across the mouth, take your first-born child, invalidate your credit cards, whatever, if you don’t read A Rumor of War. I am that sick with passion for this book." ―D. Keith Mano, National Review
"Not since Siegfried Sassoon's classic of World War I, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, has there been a war memoir so obviously true, and so disturbingly honest." ―William Broyles, Texas Monthly
About the Author
PHILIP CAPUTO is an award-winning journalist―the cowinner of a Pulitzer Prize―and the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Rumor of War, one of the most highly praised books of the twentieth century, and the novel Some Rise by Sin. He and his wife, Leslie Ware, divide their time between Norwalk, Connecticut, and Patagonia, Arizona.
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While I am proud of my Vietnam service, I am not proud of the pressure that senior leaders put on their subordinates to achieve high body counts. Such pressure led to incidents like those depicted by Caputo.
I wish that Caputo had spent just a bit more time on the last month of the Saigon regime while he was a correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.
My only regret in reading this frank account is that I had not read it earlier.
I read a lot. 3-5 books a week. Usually more than a few at a time. A combo of war books (most from the fighter's perspective, some '50,000 foot level'), current events and books on religious history (although I'm not religious - just a fascination for me) and the occasional fiction. Outside of some I read as a kid, very few affect me. Very few do more than educate me. As an adult, perhaps two or three have given me nightmares.
A Rumor of War made me smell the jungle. It made me feel what the soldier felt. No, nothing can give you the feelings of fear or terror or cold that war makes the soldier feel. Nothing but war. But I felt the loneliness that the jungle caused on his first airborne assault. Caputo's use of descriptive language goes - and takes me - somewhere few go. I don't know why.
I do get turned off a bit by some of the descriptions. I get - from a distance of time and place - the reasons for his descriptions. Just some bother me.
Still, I'm slowing down my reading of this book. I don't want it to end. I've read "Guns Up" and "Boys of '67" and "Blood Trails" and ...you get the picture. That's since February. I've got three or four more ready to go, already on the Kindle. But this book... Damn.
I could write a review as long as the book because there are no dead spots. I could comment on the story, chapter for chapter. It's that good. Perhaps that is the greatest compliment I can give it. If you have an interest in the futility of war, in the humanity of war, in war, read this book.
He more than succeeded his objectives. Although the book was riveting, I had to force myself to keep reading about the deplorable conditions he and his Marines suffered day in and day out. And for what!?
As a VN vet (68-70), I haven't been interested in books/movies about VN. Not because of anti-war feelings, nor because of a residual negativity to anything VN. Just not interested.
So when "Rumor" popped up on Amazon's suggested-read list, I about passed it by until I read some reviews. My interest was piqued on how a VN vet could be both anti-war and yet attracted to combat. I downloaded the Kindle version based solely on the reviews I read and I wasn't disappointed.
If I'd experienced what Caputo and his men did, I'm sure my attitude/philosophy would be the same. I can't believe the insanity of trudging out day after day after day only to be blown to pieces by mines and booby traps. It's amazing the troops didn't revolt and frag the idiots who kept forcing them to walk the Purple Heart Trail!
Fortunately for me, my tours were in the southern part of II Corps where the climate was more pleasant and the only dead I saw were VC. I never saw a dead American. The fact that I served with USSF also probably made a drastic difference. I don't know that I would have survived Caputo's experience.
Thank you, Mr. Caputo, for an articulate, frighteningly realistic, true telling of your experience!