Summary Of A Rumor Of War By Philip Caputo

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A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo is a memoir about his personal experiences as a Marine in the Vietnam War, Caputo makes it very clear that the story he tells is not about the history or politics or foreign policy dealing with Vietnam. His story is simply about his experiences during the war and what went on. Caputo and his unit were the first American troops to be sent to Vietnam in 1965. The book is written in three parts: The Splendid Little War, The Officer in Charge of the Dead, and In Death’s Grey Land. The Splendid Little War details why Caputo joined the Marines at the age of twenty-four, what training was like, and ends with his arrival in Vietnam and what it was like the first few months. During the first part of the book, Caputo learns …show more content…

When he first arrived in Vietnam he realized that the enemy was not just the Viet Cong and the guerrillas or any person at that. The other enemy was the jungle and what was inside of it. The mosquito netting and repellents were unsuccessful when it came to the flying, biting, and buzzing of the insects that surrounded them every minute of the day and night. The leeches stuck to their legs and feet as they walked across waist-deep rivers and would be stuck until the evening when they had a chance to take off their gear. The climate at many times was unbearable: temperatures up to one-hundred and ten degrees Caputo stated that, “The only valid measurement what heat could do to a man, and what it could do to him was simple enough: it could kill him, bake his brains, or wring the sweat out of him until he dropped from exhaustion” (Caputo 60). Vietnam’s rainy season and humidity caused constant dampness, causing soldiers to always be covered in sweat, dust, and have wet uniforms. While all of this conditions played a vital role in American soldiers ability to fight off the Vietnamese, the worst was the jungle itself. The jungle was dense and dark no matter the time of day, he describes it by saying, “the dense forests that dimmed the brightest noon and turned midnight into the absolute blackness known by the blind” (Caputo 35). Vines and trees …show more content…

While at first, he thought their actions were because Caputo was given a number of responsibilities during his time in Vietnam including Regimental Casualty Reporter, which he described as being “death’s bookkeeper” (Caputo 169). The obligation required him to report the casualties of both American soldiers and the enemy. When he reported a death, a lot of information was required about the death and who it was. He had to report if the causality was due to hostile actions or nonhostile action. Nonhostile actions he described were accidents such as friendly fire, wrecks, or crashes. The detailed records Caputo must write for his job require long codes, great amounts of personal information about the dead, and the circumstances about how they died. His job was not always easy when it came to identifying and describing the dead soldiers. Most of the soldiers did not neatly lose a limb, instead, they would be blown to pieces and Caputo was left to describe their deaths when there seemed to be no words to describe what happened to them. As a part of his job, he was required to keep a running total of all of the deaths, which he felt that his commanders were turning into a game. Caputo said,“The scoreboard thus allowed the colonel to keep track of the battalions and companies under his command and, quickly and crisply, to rattle off impressive figures to

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