A Rumor of War, by Philip Caputo, is a first hand account of the Vietnam War. He landed with the first group of Marines to be committed to Vietnam. Caputo was a Lieutenant in the Marines and was the leader of a platoon. His platoon encountered many assaults by the Vietcong and the group of men passed into Vietcong controlled land several times. Caputo left Vietnam 16 months after he had arrived. Philip Caputo is one of America’s most prominent writers.
Besides A Rumor of War, other novels of his include, Horn of Africa, Delcorso’s Gallery, Indian Country, and Equation for Evil. Caputo was born in Illinois, served in Vietnam in the Marine Corps, and for several years worked as a journalist, most incredibly for the Chicago Tribune, where as part of an investigative team he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. This book gives a good view of the American soldier’s fear going into this war. Caputo mentions troop’s fear going into Vietcong area. He and his men feel they are bound to run into trouble.
In one village troops know there will be problems. Hoi-Vic, which is a village under Vietcong control, is being assaulted again by the Americans. Each company has their own position, one making a helicopter attack on a field and one going by truck to a near-by river. Caputo’s company has possibly the scariest attack plans of each group. His men are to go by foot up the river.
They have run similar plans, but in Vietnam, Caputo says nothing happens as it is planned. When Caputo’s platoon reaches the bank, he talks about the troop’s understanding that they had crossed out of the secure zone. They know the paths are lined with traps. This knowledge leaves the group feeling tense.
Rumor Of Warn all wars, civilians always suffer, and inexcusable deliberate acts of murder and pillage always exist. America was certainly no exception, and the public was never more conscious of its own soldiers atrocities then during the long and confusing Vietnam conflict. Often the men who committed these cases were normal persons like anyone else until they became victims of war s pressures. ...
You can feel the troop’s hearts pounding as they move up to their position, but before they can reach their position the platoon in front is ambushed by Vietcong. An immediate call to Caputo’s group has him scurrying into place. The 3 rd platoon is charging forward toward the Vietcong, which were across the river. Caputo’s men are ordered to rice paddies while the 3 rd platoon continues after the Vietcong. The Vietcong is nowhere to be found though, just as usual.
While the men are waiting in the paddies, a grenade goes off in a hut at the village nearby. The fear of the Vietnamese and Caputo’s feelings are revealed in how he describes the situation. “Women are screaming, children crying. Panic-stricken, the villagers run out of the flame and smoke as if from a natural disaster. The livestock goes mad, and the squawking of chickens, the squeal of pigs, and the bawling of water buffalo are added to the screams and yells and the loud popping of the flaming huts.” The ambush of the Vietnamese is coming from the 3 rd platoon. Another leader describes them as crazy.
Caputo tries to stop it, but in the end the village no longer exists. The reason for attacking the village was that the villagers aided the Vietcong, and in the end the 3 rd platoon thought they had taught them a lesson. Caputo says they are learning to hate.