GENS 411-Section A
April 7, 2015
A Rumor of War Book Critique: Caputo’s Attitude through the War A Rumor of War book is a memoir of Caputo’s experiences and his notes of the more historical and well-known events that war created for him. It takes viewers through the battles, minds, and thoughts of what being a soldier in Vietnam truly was. Caputo was motivated to volunteer in the Marine because he was hungered for danger, challenges, violence, and adventures, as the only things he knew were the security, comfort, and peace of his hometown, Westchester, Illinois. He wanted desperately to prove his courage, toughness, and manhood, as well his capacity to be a hero like the ones he read in his school books. However, as his involvement in the war grew, his attitudes through it changed as well as his personal identity. Caputo’s first personal and physical changes begun during his military training. He became to be more “self-confident and proud, some to the point of arrogance” (21). Additionally, he acquired the essential military virtues—courage, loyalty, and spirit de corps—but lost his capacity for compassion. He looked the world around him in a different way. Every scenario he saw, such as landscape or hills, he associated it with his military training and started to plan strategic movements of how to defend or attack.
Caputo left the United States with a youthful, romanticized illusion of war inspired with President Kennedy’s idealistic challenge and America’s arrogance of superiority over others. Before entering the war, Caputo was very optimistic over America’s power and he believed that “Asian guerrillas did not stand a chance against U.S. Marines” (69). When he learned that his platoon would go to Danang, he felt an adrenal surge, as it was something he was waiting to happen for long time. Since his landing to Vietnam, he had the conviction that his brigade could win the brushfire war quickly, taking only a few months to get over. As the time past and his platoon did not encounter enemy forces, his feelings become confused because he wanted action and he did not want it, suffering a tense of emotional balance as a result of these conflicting desires. Further, he worried about failing in his contingency strategies that he rehearsed his reactions to different cases. He started to experience fantasies of personal heroics and how they would sound in the local newspapers. Overall, Caputo felt happy to going into combat for the first time.
As Caputo’s platoon became more involve in the war, Caputo’s optimistic attitude started to change. During one of the first patrols at the jungle, Caputo and his platoon experienced a nightmare operation because the jungle had the power to cause fear among the marines. They had the sense of being surrounded by something they could not see. As Caputo state, “Men with active imaginations were most prey to these fears. A man needs many things in war, but a strong imagination is not one of them.” Imagination is one of the main enemies of soldiers since it can alters soldiers’ nerves causing soldiers to see and hear enemies everywhere. Fear was one of Caputo’s first pessimistic attitudes towards war. Furthermore, in the cordon and search operation, Caputo felt uncomfortable searching through the villagers’ belongings since he felt like burglar. However, the more villages were searched and destroyed by the marines, Caputo’s feelings towards civilians changed. He harden his heart against civilians’ suffering believing that they were paying the price for helping the Viet Cong. He thought that this was an act of retribution rather than an act of madness and civilians were learning a lesson. At this point of the war, soldiers were learning to hate anybody that supports their enemy’s operations not matter the level of innocence.
When Caputo began with his patrols, all the he wanted was to capture the guerrilla but as the confrontations raised all he wanted was to kill the…