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A Rumor of War

By: Philip Caputo
Narrated by: L. J. Ganser
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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 listeners say about A Rumor of War

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Vietnam war classic, a must read for the genre

What did you like most about A Rumor of War?

The different perspectives of soldier and combat correspondent bring a different dynamic to this Vietnam war book

What did you like best about this story?

First person narrative, the detail of each encounter was just so real

What does L. J. Ganser bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Everything, he completely makes the book come alive, the best narration of a book I've heard in a very long time, very apt casting, very believable

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, after a slower start, I didn't want to stop

Any additional comments?

A must for anyone interested in the Vietnam war, I would put this up there with Tim O'Briens "If I Die in a Combat Zone" which sadly isn't available on Audible yet, nor is the other must read from this Genre - Michael Herr's "Dispatches" , please Audible add these two literary classics to the library !!!

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Must read

I've read many books on Vietnam War. My favourite being 13 th Valley. However Rumour of War is easy a close second. Fields of Fire comes next. Recently I have been listening to audible books and highly recommend this book either audible or to read.

Normally WW1 and 2 have been my obsession these days. Yet In pleased I decided to try Rumour of War. So go for it you won't be disappointed.

4 people found this helpful

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Just great.

I first read this book as a teenager many years ago and seeing it on audible I decided to listen to a story I once knew but had forgotten. And how glad I was. The story is brilliantly brought to life by the narration of LJ Ganser. As we all know an audible book stands or falls on it's narration and Mr Ganser nails this most stirring war memoir perfectly bringing to life Lt Caputo's time as a marine in Vietnam. I'm glad I chose this book. It stands as one of the best in my collection.

2 people found this helpful

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A Marine's experiences on War in Vietnam

Always been fasinated by the Vietnam conflict, in how a superior force is beaten back by unseen "Yellow Men" beaten by the environment, politics and the fogness of war, This has become my second favourite book of the conflict. Chicken Hawk by Robert Mason being the what I think the best written encounter of the War.

I'm not a fan of American Narrators in audible books but L.J Ganser does a fantastic job of putting you there, in fact couldnt imagine another accent or person to do this, At first I thought it was the Author narrating.

I highly recommed this book.

I feel I was born 20 years to late and 3000 miles away.

1 person found this helpful

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The best military book I've ever read!

To call Philip Caputo a wordsmith would not do the man justice. What a book!

1 person found this helpful

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rumour of war (Vietnam through the eyes of a vet )

bought this book years ago but never got round to reading it. great read. entertaining.

1 person found this helpful

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Puts you in the jungle

I've read quite a few memoirs from the Vietnam War and I have to say this is among the finest. From the optimism and bravado of training and the early months in-country, through to the horror and tragedy as the body count rises and Caputo and his Marines realise this is a war that cannot be won - this book packs an emotional punch. I always feel audio books lend themselves to the first person narrative and the narrator does a good job here. Moments of laughter, despair, terror, confusion, frustration and gallows humour are brought to life. At times you feel like you're in the fox hole with them. Recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent

One of the best Vietnam war stories I have listened too. I would recommend it too anyone

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A great, great book

A must read/listen to book for those interested in war. I understand the authors standpoint although do not agree with it, however all books should allow for differing points of view other than you own.
A highly recommendable book, a must.

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The Best

This really is one of the best books I've read. Just incredible. A real good narrator as well.

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  • Glenn
  • 10-09-12

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.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kyle R Lovett
  • 11-11-09

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • gerry
  • 20-09-12

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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Howard
  • 19-12-09

Howie

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

4 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 29-10-12

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

3 people found this helpful

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  • Patrick
  • 08-10-12

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • bionichands
  • 24-03-10

Not sure it holds up

I've read a good number of books and memoirs from Vietnam, not sure how I am just getting around to this one. Its a good book, especially in its very vivid descriptions of Caputo's military experience. However, the vast majority of these accounts I felt like I've seen in dozens of movies or subsequent books. (ie The new troops arriving in Vietnam and seeing body bags going out. The old jaded troops looking at the fresh new troops coming in. Its the first ten minutes of PLATOON!)

I know this isn't Caputo's fault and can understand that the book might have been groundbreaking on its release. But in the epilogue, Caputo says his goal was to have written a book which his great grandchildren could read and still find an impact. I'm not sure this book quite lives up to that. Its not as strong as the subsequent Vietnam stories it may have paved the way for.

The biggest issue with the book is that it is not so much a story as a series of events strung together and described. Calling it a memoir doesn't change the fact that this makes the book less compelling. I recently read Jim Webb's FIELDS OF FIRE which was released at the same time and I think was just an overall better book because it had a better narrative.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Phil
  • 12-02-10

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Magonigal
  • 17-09-12

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 people found this helpful

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  • SJS
  • 18-07-12

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.

2 people found this helpful