Philip Caputo gives the readers a precise, tactile view of both the emotional and physical realism of war. Before going into the war, the author expressed his prior thoughts of what war was: a chance to live heroically. “…if a conflict did break out, the marines would be certain to fight in it, and I would be there with them. Actually there. Not watching it on a movie or TV screen…living out a fantasy” (6). This quote ties into the title of book “A Rumor of War,” Caputo (the author) volunteered for the Marines because he was looking for a way to prove himself, and he saw the Marines as an honorable way to do so. He also originally saw the war as glorious. However, after he became a lieutenant, he soon found out that war is not as glorious as it may have seemed to him. He found himself fighting in the war, not for the defense of his ideals or morals, but rather for his reputation; he mentions: "I was ready to die for considerably less [than medals], for a few favorable remarks in a fitness report.” (35).
In many ways Caputo’s personal account serves as microcosm of the time period. Caputo could have been virtually anyone in American in the early ‘60’s. He was a young, idealistic, all American boy who joined the Marines in of adventure and out of a patriotic desire to answer John Kennedy’s challenge to, “Ask not what your country can for you…” He and his platoon marched to war to find glory, but ended up discovering something totally different. He discusses what the war does to soldiers. He talks vividly about his involvements in the war but essentially nobody can really find true meaning of war in written words; what violence does to these war fighters. He mentions how soldiers and marines see too much, do too much, they come across a threshold into an adaption to violence and become addicted to it. Your emotional self is killed off by the insanity of the war and survivors have a hard time reconnecting with society. War is a one way door, once you go through, you cannot go back. You change forever. On page 337, Caputo theoretically is free for the war and as he is waiting; he watches the new replacement draft filed of the big transport plane. They looked fairly young, far younger than him. He could not help but to feel sorry for them. “…knowing that they would all grow old in this land of endless dying.” Caputo is one of thousands of young American men who served in the Vietnam War. His ever changing point of view on this war reflects the changes in young American people in the 1960’s. He started with his view points and goals of Vietnam as a pro war soldier and ended it with his view points and goals as an antiwar activist. In many ways this book relates to another book by Tim O’Brien: “The Things We Carried.” Both Caputo and O’Brien narrate excellent war stories in their own way. The two can make a reader feel the emotions the soldiers endured during the Vietnam War which is not an easy task while employing