A Rumor of War

A Rumor of War

by

Philip Caputo

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Philip Caputo Character Analysis

Philip Caputo is a middle-class suburbanite from Westchester, Illinois. After flunking out of Purdue University, he moves back in with his family, much to his own disappointment, and attends Loyola University. He joins the Marines in 1960, inspired by President Kennedy’s message that young people should perform more public service. His contempt for Communism and his desire to rebel against his parents’ expectations are also driving forces in his decision to enlist. He graduates from Loyola and attends Officer Candidate School. In exchange for a commission, he agrees to serve three years on active duty. Caputo’s first command is a rifle platoon in a battalion of the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa. He then goes to Vietnam on March 8, 1965 as a second lieutenant with a battalion of the 9th Marine Expeditionary Force, the first combat unit sent to Indochina. His next job is as an assistant adjutant who reports on the war dead, both from the Marines and among the Viet Cong. Caputo morbidly nicknames himself “Officer in Charge of the Dead.” After the Marines threaten to prosecute him for murder, Caputo is transferred from the battalion and works as an assistant operations officer at regimental headquarters for the duration of the investigation. He is found not-guilty. After being discharged from the Marine Corps in 1967 after his three-year enlistment, Caputo joins the Vietnam Veterans Against the War at age twenty-four. In 1970, he sends his campaign medals to President Nixon along with a letter detailing his opposition to American policies in Indochina. Caputo then works as a journalist in Beirut as a Middle East correspondent. By 1975, Caputo is a war correspondent in Saigon with the Chicago Tribune. He returns to Da Nang, the part of Vietnam that he knows best, to cover the enemy’s offensive there, along with Ron Yates.

Philip Caputo Quotes in A Rumor of War

The A Rumor of War quotes below are all either spoken by Philip Caputo or refer to Philip Caputo . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Owl Books edition of A Rumor of War published in 1977.
Prologue Quotes

War is always attractive to young men who know nothing about it, but we had also been seduced into uniform by Kennedy’s challenge to “ask what you can do for your country” and by the missionary idealism he had awakened in us.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker)
Page Number: XIV
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter One Quotes

A man saw the heights and depths of human behavior in Vietnam, all manner of violence and horrors so grotesque that they evoked more fascination than disgust. Once I had seen pigs eating napalm-charred corpses—a memorable sight, pigs eating roast people.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker)
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

That is what I wanted, to find in a commonplace world a chance to live heroically. Having known nothing but security, comfort, and peace, I hungered for danger, challenges, and violence […] the heroic experience I sought was war; war, the ultimate adventure; war, the ordinary man’s most convenient means of escaping from the ordinary.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker)
Page Number: 5-6
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Five Quotes

We broke up into teams and started the search, which amounted to a disorganized rummaging through the villagers’ belongings […] Most of the huts were empty, but in one we found a young woman nursing an infant whose head was covered in running sores […] The absolute indifference in her eyes began to irritate me […] because her passivity seemed to be a denial of our existence, as if we were nothing more to her than a passing wind that had temporarily knocked a few things out of place.

Page Number: 88-89
Explanation and Analysis:

On the way back, I saw an example of the paradoxical kindness-and-cruelty that made Vietnam such a peculiar war. One of our corpsman was treating the infant with skin ulcers […] At the same time, and only a few yards away, our interpreter, a Vietnamese marine lieutenant, roughly interrogated the woman who had been tending the fire. The lieutenant was yelling at her and waving a pistol in front of her ravaged face […] This went on for several minutes. Then his voice rose to a hysterical pitch, and holding the forty-five by the barrel, he raised his arms as if to pistol-whip her. I think he would have, but Peterson stepped in and stopped him.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker), Peterson
Page Number: 90
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Six Quotes

Crowds of children and teenage boys run alongside the convoy. Many of the children have distended bellies and ulcerous skin, decades of wisdom in their eyes and four-letter words on their lips […] The older people of the village remain aloof […] The whores are the only adults who pay attention to us […] The girls are pathetic to look at, dressed in Western-style pants and so heavily made up that they look like caricatures of what they are. They make obscene gestures and signal prices with their hands, like traders on the floor of a commodities market.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker)
Page Number: 107-108
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Seven Quotes

Stumbling forward, I almost tripped over the VC […] An enormous amount of blood had poured out of him and he was lying in it, a crimson puddle in which floated bits of skin and white cartilage. There was nothing on him, no photographs, no letters or identification. That would disappoint the boys at intelligence, but it was fine with me. I wanted this boy to remain anonymous; I wanted to think of him, not as a dead human being, with a name, age, and family, but as a dead enemy.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker), PFC “Pappy” White , PFC Marsden
Page Number: 119-120
Explanation and Analysis:

One photo showed the VC wearing their motley uniforms and striking heroic poses; another showed one of the guerrillas among his family. There were also several wallet-sized pictures of girl friends or wives. The notes written in the corners of these were probably expressions of love and fidelity, and I wondered if the other side had a system, as we did, for notifying the families of casualties […] What we had found gave to the enemy the humanity I wished to deny him.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker), PFC Lockhart , Rivera
Page Number: 123-124
Explanation and Analysis:

Before the fire-fight, those marines fit both definition of the word infantry, which means either a “body of soldiers equipped for service on foot” or “infants, boys, youths collectively.” The difference was that the second definition could no longer be applied to them. Having received that primary sacrament of war, baptism of fire, their boyhoods were behind them […] We’ve been under fire, we’ve shed blood, now we’re men […] some were trying to master their emotions by talking them out; others masked their feelings under a surface toughness.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker), Peterson , PFC Marsden
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

The horror lay in the recognition that the body, which is supposed to be the earthly home of an immortal soul, which people spend so much time feeding, conditioning, and beautifying, is in fact only a fragile case stuffed full of disgusting matter […] The sight of mutilation did more than cause me physical revulsion; it burst the religious myths of my Catholic childhood.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker)
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Eight Quotes

Their flat, steady gazes had the same indifference I had seen in the eyes of the woman whose house I had searched in Hoi-Vuc. It was as if they regarded the obliteration of their village as a natural disaster and, accepting it as part of their lot, felt no more toward us than they might feel toward a flood […] Americans would have done something: glared angrily, shaken their fists, wept, run away, demanded compensation. These villagers did nothing, and I despised them for it […] Confronted by disease, bad harvests, and above all by the random violence of endless war, they had acquired a capacity to accept what we would have found unacceptable […] Their survival demanded this of them. Like the great Annamese Mountains, they endured.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker)
Page Number: 133-134
Explanation and Analysis:

At the same time, I knew I had become less naïve in the way I looked at the men in the battalion. I now knew my early impressions had been based not on reality but on a boyhood diet of war movies and blood-and-guts novels […] I now realized that some of them were not so decent or good. Many had petty jealousies, hatreds, and prejudices. And an arrogance tempered their ingrained American idealism (“one marine’s worth ten of these VC”) […] Rather, I had come to recognize them as fairly ordinary men who sometimes performed extraordinary acts in the stress of combat, acts of bravery as well as cruelty.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker), Sergeant Colby
Page Number: 136-137
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Nine Quotes

The corps would go on living and functioning without him, but it was aware of having lost something irreplaceable. Later in the war, that sort of feeling became rarer in infantry battalions. Men were killed, evacuated with wounds, or rotated home at a constant rate, then replaced by other men who were killed, evacuated, or rotated in their turn. By that time, a loss only meant a gap in the line that needed filling.

Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Ten Quotes

The interesting thing was how the dead looked so much alike. Black men, white men, yellow men, they all looked remarkably the same. Their skin had a tallowlike [sic] texture, making them appear like wax dummies of themselves; the pupils of their eyes were a washed out gray, and their mouths were opened wide, as if death had caught them in the middle of a scream.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker)
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Twelve Quotes

That night, I was given command of a new platoon. They stood in formation in the rain, three ranks deep. I stood front and center, facing them. Devlin, Lockhart, and Bryce were in the first rank, Bryce standing on his one good leg, next to him the faceless Devlin, and then Lockhart with his bruised eye sockets bulging. Sullivan was there, too, and Reasoner and all the others, all of them except me, the officer in charge of the dead. I was the only one alive and whole, and when I commanded […] they faced right, slung their rifles, and began to march. They marched along, my platoon of crippled corpses, hopping along on the stumps of their legs, swinging the stumps of their arms, keeping perfect time while I counted cadence. I was proud of them, disciplined soldiers to and beyond the end. They stayed in step even in death.

Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Thirteen Quotes

So much was lost with you, so much talent and intelligence and decency […] There were others, but you were the first and more: you embodied the best that was in us. You were a part of us, and a part of us died with you, the small part that was still young, that had not grown cynical, grown bitter and old with death. You courage was an example to us […] You died for the man you tried to save […] You were faithful. Your country is not. As I write this, eleven years after your death, the country for which you died wishes to forget the war in which you died […] But there are a few of us who do remember because of the small things that made us love you—your gestures, the words you spoke, and the way you looked. We loved you for what you were and what you stood for.

Page Number: 223-224
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Fourteen Quotes

I would be deserting them, my friends. That was the real crime a deserter committed: he ran out on his friends. And perhaps that was why, in spite of everything, we fought as hard as we did. We had no other choice. Desertion was unthinkable. Each of us fought for himself and for the men beside him. The only way out of Vietnam, besides death or wounds, was to fight your way out. We fought to live. But it was pleasant to toy with the idea of desertion, to pretend I had a choice.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker), Captain Neal
Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Fifteen Quotes

I had ceased to fear death because I had ceased to care about it. Certainly, I had no illusions that my death, if it came, would be a sacrifice. It would merely be a death, and not a good one either […] I was a beetle. We were all beetles, scratching for survival in the wilderness. Those who had lost the struggle had not changed anything by dying. The deaths of Levy, Simpson, Sullivan, and the others had not made any difference. Thousands of people died in each week in the war, and the sum of all their deaths did not make any difference. The war went on without them, so it would go on without me. My death would not alter a thing. Walking down the trail, I could not remember having felt an emotion more sublime or liberating than that indifference toward my own death.

Page Number: 260-261
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Seventeen Quotes

Yet, he is also attracted by the danger, for he knows he can overcome his fear only by facing it. His blind rage then begins to focus on the men who are the source of the danger—and of his fear. It concentrates inside him, and through some chemistry is transformed into a fierce resolve to fight until the danger ceases to exist. But this resolve, which is sometimes called courage, cannot be separated from the fear that has aroused it […] This inner, emotional war produces a tension almost sexual in its intensity. It is too painful to endure for long. All a soldier can think about is the moment when he can escape his impotent confinement and release his tension […] Nothing matters except the final, critical instant when he leaps out into the violent catharsis he both seeks and dreads.

Related Characters: Philip Caputo (speaker)
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Eighteen Quotes

I wondered why the investigating officer had not submitted any explanatory or extenuating circumstances. Later, after I had time to think things over, I drew my own conclusion: the explanatory or extenuating circumstance was the war. The killings had occurred in war. They had occurred, moreover, in a war whose sole aim was to kill Viet Cong […] The deaths of Le Dung and Le Du could not be divorced from the nature and conduct of the war. As I had come to see it, America could not intervene in a people’s war without killing some of the people. But to raise those points in explanation or extenuation would be to raise a host of ambiguous moral questions. It could even raise the question of the morality of American intervention in Vietnam […] If we were found guilty, the Marine Corps’ institutional conscience would be clear.

Page Number: 322-323
Explanation and Analysis:

There was murder in my heart and, in some way, through tone of voice, a gesture, or a stress on kill rather than capture, I had transmitted my inner violence to the men. They saw in my overly aggressive manner a sanction to vent their own brutal impulses. I lay there remembering the euphoria we had felt afterward, the way we had laughed, and then the sudden awakening to guilt. And yet, I could not conceive of the fact as one of premeditated murder. It had not been committed in a vacuum. It was a direct result of the war. The thing we had done was a result of what the war had done to us.

Page Number: 326
Explanation and Analysis:
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Philip Caputo Character Timeline in A Rumor of War

The timeline below shows where the character Philip Caputo appears in A Rumor of War. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
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Philip Caputo asserts that his book is not an historical account, but that it is simply about... (full context)
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War, Caputo writes, is attractive to young men who know nothing about it. He recalls how he... (full context)
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Caputo recalls how much of the war was tedious—there were no epic clashes like Gettysburg or... (full context)
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Caputo returns to the United States in early July 1966 and works as the commanding officer... (full context)
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What distinguishes Vietnam from other conflicts, Caputo notes, is “its absolute savagery.” He uses himself and other young men as examples of... (full context)
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This book is not a protest, for Caputo does not believe that it has the ability to change things. Furthermore, it is pointless... (full context)
Chapter One
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Philip Caputo’s first experience of the world outside of the classroom is in a war zone. He... (full context)
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Caputo goes back home feeling older than his father. He returns after having seen “all manner... (full context)
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Caputo joins the Marines in 1960 because he is tired of suburban life in Westchester, Illinois.... (full context)
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The only thing that Caputo likes about his “boyhood surroundings” is the Cook and DuPage County forest preserve, which offers... (full context)
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Caputo does not know how to fulfill this ambition for danger and challenge until a Marine... (full context)
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Caputo’s other reason for enlisting is feeling that he needs to prove his manhood. During his... (full context)
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Caputo joins the Platoon Leaders’ Class, which is the Marines’ version of ROTC. He is set... (full context)
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About seventy percent of Caputo’s original class makes it through training and graduate in August 1963. Those who pass the... (full context)
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The senior first lieutenant lectures Caputo and the other junior officers on counterguerrilla operations. The instructor disabuses his students of any... (full context)
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As winter approaches, Caputo attends the Marine Corps birthday ball, which commemorates the Corps’ origins in a Philadelphia tavern... (full context)
Chapter Two
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Philip Caputo’s first command is a rifle platoon in a battalion of the 3rd Marine Division. After... (full context)
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Caputo arrives on Okinawa in January 1965; the rest of the battalion has been at Camp... (full context)
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The company’s first sergeant, Fred Wagoner, instructs Caputo on the formalities of the Marine Corps, including signing forms only with black ink. Caputo... (full context)
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Caputo is assigned to One-Three, or the first battalion of the 3rd Marines, for ninety days... (full context)
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...furnish internal security for the American compound there. Three weeks go by and nothing happens. Caputo wonders if he will ever see action. In February, the company goes to the Northern... (full context)
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Later, Joe Feeley lectures Caputo about being more competent and assuming leadership from Sergeant Campbell. Looking back, Caputo determines that... (full context)
Chapter Three
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...phone to take a call from Lieutenant Colonel Bain about the impending deployment. Meanwhile, Philip Caputo and Murph McCloy are on the terrace of the Officers’ Club, drinking beer and admiring... (full context)
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Caputo gets into a six-by with Gonzalez’s squad. They ride along for an hour or so,... (full context)
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They arrive during a “hot, damp, and cloudy” afternoon. Caputo joins the rest of Charley Company, with Lemmon’s platoon on the right, Bruce Tester’s on... (full context)
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...would be hit first. To protect themselves, the soldiers dig foxholes and fill up sandbags. Caputo applies everything that he has learned at Quantico, including using machine guns to cover the... (full context)
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Vietnam does not look like a war-torn country to Caputo. The “Communist stronghold” from which they are likely to be attacked looks to him like... (full context)
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To escape from the torture of the mosquitos, Caputo regularly checks on the platoon lines. He jumps into Guiliumet and Paulson’s foxhole. They are... (full context)
Chapter Four
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...marines eat and breathe dust. Worse, the heat increases every day and threatens to kill Caputo from heat stroke or, at the very least, to “wring the sweat out of him... (full context)
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...brigade’s commanding general, General Karsch comes out to the perimeter often with Colonel Bain. While Caputo admires Bain’s ruggedness, as well as the signs of combat on his face, he expresses... (full context)
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...spirits among the marines, encourages the platoon commanders to have a talk with their men. Caputo’s men huddle around him “like a football team around a quarterback.” Caputo tries to explain... (full context)
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Though the absence of action makes Caputo and some of the others feel that they are not really combat infantrymen, the mechanics... (full context)
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...a piece of wire. He holds them up like a fisherman displaying a prize-winning trout. Caputo is shocked by the display of such barbarism from a fellow member of the English-speaking... (full context)
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...will share in the fighting, no longer making it “their war.” A staff major tells Caputo that he thinks the brigade alone will have the situation “cleaned up in a few... (full context)
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Caputo is bewildered by this instruction. What if someone has a legitimate reason for running? Peterson’s... (full context)
Chapter Five
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Widener wakes Caputo up at 4:00 A.M. the next morning. Peterson is lacing his boots. McCloy is shaving... (full context)
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...westward, along the course of the Song Tuy Loan. Widener and the six riflemen on Caputo’s team sit stiffly with “their weapons propped upright between their knees.” The Tuy Loan narrows... (full context)
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...the underbrush,” but they cannot see them, as there are too many vines and trees. Caputo tosses a grenade to clear a way. When the helicopters fly off, the soldiers feel... (full context)
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...sits and watches the marines, while nursing her baby. The indifference in her eyes irritates Caputo. It seems to him like a denial of their existence. Before leaving, Caputo smiles stupidly... (full context)
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...they prepare themselves to move out again in half an hour. The heat becomes unbearable. Caputo dips his helmet into the river and pours the water over his “throbbing head.” On... (full context)
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...with a brief but heavy burst of automatic fire.” The marines respond with fire, and Caputo leaps into a trench. Sergeant Campbell orders a cease fire, arguing for more “fire discipline”... (full context)
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...of rice paddies, the platoon is again “pinned down by a small group of guerrillas.” Caputo figures there are three of them, “two with carbines and one with an automatic rifle,... (full context)
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Peterson comes up again on the radio and asks Caputo why he is waving his arms around while the platoon is under fire. Caputo says... (full context)
Chapter Six
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Caputo sees Lemmon’s platoon “through the dust, marching heavy-legged beneath a sky that is as bright... (full context)
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...He fires several shots at something he has heard moving in front of his position. Caputo yells at him for not throwing a grenade instead. Buchanan stands “in a tense crouch”... (full context)
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Caputo returns to the command post and goes to sleep. Later, he is startled awake by... (full context)
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Corporal Parker and Caputo go to visit PFC Esposito in the field hospital. Esposito has mixed feelings about going... (full context)
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Later, Caputo is lying in a ditch with his platoon while a VC fires an AK-47 at... (full context)
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...plans to make a helicopter assault near Hoi-Vuc, a VC-controlled village. As the convoy enters, Caputo witnesses filth and poverty that seems “medieval.” Most huts are made of thatch, but some... (full context)
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...Bruce Tester’s men destroy the hamlet near Hoi-Vuc, marked as Giao-Tri on the marine’s maps. Caputo recalls that the men seem to go crazy, rushing through the hamlet and throwing phosphorus... (full context)
Chapter Seven
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...aircraft but none are hit. A column forms and marches into the brush. Peterson orders Caputo to halt and head back to the LZ with his men to assault some VC... (full context)
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...the LZ and sets up a tube to hit the VC with mortars. Peterson orders Caputo’s and Tester’s platoons to move up and sweep around the guerrilla’s flank. The bombardment then... (full context)
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A second corpse is found and, along with PFC White, Caputo finds a third. They see a sliver of blood, “flecked with bits of flesh and... (full context)
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...destroyed documents before fleeing. The marines stamp out the fire but fail to salvage anything. Caputo assembles the platoon, and the forty men start walking toward the stream bed. While walking... (full context)
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Six marines move around the bend while the rest of the platoon waits. Caputo sees the outline of a hut, which sits on poles on a small base camp.... (full context)
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...marines set fire to the camp, then they run into Sergeant Loker. The sergeant reminds Caputo that Peterson does not want the marines to burn down any more villages. Caputo corrects... (full context)
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...arms and legs and dividing by four, the marines estimate that eight VC were killed. Caputo gives Peterson a report of their excursion to the VC base camp and hands him... (full context)
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...of an immortal soul,” as “only a fragile case stuffed full of disgusting matter.” For Caputo, the sight of mutilation causes him to lose faith in the Catholic narratives of his... (full context)
Chapter Eight
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...belongings among their burned homes. Their gazes remain flat and steady, registering the same indifference Caputo witnessed on the first day he entered the hamlet. He compares them to Americans who,... (full context)
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...an old French-Moroccan garrison that the Viet Minh supposedly wiped out in the early fifties. Caputo and the others see a line of peasant girls pass by, hurrying back to their... (full context)
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Caputo examines the marines and realizes that many of them are “not so decent or good.”... (full context)
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...that afternoon, and twenty-five enlisted men from C Company go to Da Nang in trucks. Caputo, McCloy, Peterson, and Sergeant Loker drive in the captain’s jeep. It is their job to... (full context)
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...a maimed Vietnamese veteran would hold out “a faded fatigue cap” and beg for change. Caputo gives a few coins to one of the beggars. Then, “a mob of small boys... (full context)
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...though he has no intention of taking her back home with him. McCloy then introduces Caputo to two girls from Simone’s “stable.” They are “plump, pleasant, and reasonable” women named Yum-Yum... (full context)
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McCloy takes Caputo to a Vietnamese restaurant and then to a brothel. The prostitutes are half-naked and bored.... (full context)
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McCloy and Caputo next go to the Blue Dahlia, a hangout for Australian advisers stationed in Da Nang.... (full context)
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Suddenly, there is pounding on the door. It is the MPs. The Australians order Caputo and McCloy to hide under a couch, as the bar is off-limits to Americans after... (full context)
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These are Caputo’s memories of his last two weeks with this battalion. Once, he leads a platoon-sized patrol... (full context)
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...are seriously wounded. In revenge, they kill five VC, including a North Vietnamese political officer. Caputo’s platoon is sent off on an all-night ambush, which is a miserable experience—not for its... (full context)
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At the end of May, Caputo receives orders from his parent unit, Regimental Headquarters Company. After a week-long course in Yokosuka,... (full context)
Chapter Nine
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Second Lieutenant Philip Caputo returns from Japan on June 15th and is picked up at the airfield by Lance... (full context)
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Caputo reports to his new boss, Captain Anderson. Anderson welcomes Caputo and tells him that he... (full context)
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Caputo asks Lemmon when Sullivan was killed. He tells Caputo that Sullivan was shot and killed... (full context)
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Caputo’s friends also tell him about a battalion-sized operation that three companies went out on, in... (full context)
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Caputo wonders why a decent guy like Sullivan had to get killed. Caputo still suffers, too,... (full context)
Chapter Ten
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Just as Kazmarack predicted, Caputo’s first night at headquarters is noisy. Across the road, “big guns” fire at road junctions,... (full context)
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The additional duty of casualty reporting keeps Caputo especially busy. The job gives him a lot of bad dreams and stamps out any... (full context)
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Sometimes Caputo has to verify body counts due to the field commanders’ tendency to exaggerate the number... (full context)
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Caputo’s first day on the job as a casualty reporting officer is June 21, 1965. Early... (full context)
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...piece of bone protruding whitely through the flesh,” hangs over the side of the trailer. Caputo counts the bodies, ensuring there are four. They are so entangled that they seem indistinguishable... (full context)
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Caputo turns away and tells the driver to remove the bodies. The driver says that he... (full context)
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...jeep to catch up with the jeep that is taking the corpses to the cemetery. Caputo cannot believe these orders, but he follows them. When he returns to his tent, he... (full context)
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...the briefing ends, General Thompson, Colonel Wheeler, and the other officers emerge from the tent. Caputo salutes them. They walk past him toward the corpses. The general glances at them, then... (full context)
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Caputo goes to the mess hall for dinner, where he sees Chaplain Ryerson and Milsovic. The... (full context)
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Caputo now finds it difficult to work, and the tent is stifling with heat. He knows... (full context)
Chapter Eleven
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Early the next morning, Caputo awakes to the sounds of rifle fire and Webb Harrison’s voice nearby. Harrison warns him... (full context)
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...carried into the command post, where they are tied to bamboo poles “like bagged game.” Caputo adds two to the number in the VC-KIA column on the scoreboard. The next week... (full context)
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That week, Harrison tells Caputo that the two VC they found were part of a five- or six-man enemy patrol.... (full context)
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...July 1, the VC attack the airfield. The first shells hit around 2:00 A.M., when Caputo is just coming off of duty-watch in the operations tent. The shells burst rapidly, one... (full context)
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Caputo starts to go out and runs into Major General Lew Walt. He salutes him, but... (full context)
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Caputo puts on his helmet and flak jacket and goes over to the tent where the... (full context)
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With nothing else to do, Caputo goes back to his position on the perimeter. Each junior officer is responsible for a... (full context)
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Later, Caputo and Kazmarack drive past the airfield. Most of it has escaped serious damage. However, two... (full context)
Chapter Twelve
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...twos and threes and dies in twos and threes, as do the Marines’ own men. Caputo is twenty-four when the summer begins. He has only aged three months, though he feels... (full context)
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Caputo remembers Nick Pappas, too, and the rainy night when he went to the hospital to... (full context)
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That night, in a dream, Caputo is given command of a new platoon. Devlin, Bryce, and Lockhart are in the first... (full context)
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Caputo is not going crazy, but he witnesses others slowly losing their minds. Many are suffering... (full context)
Chapter Thirteen
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Caputo’s old battalion, One-Three, is sent to Camp Pendleton for reorganization. Many of its original members... (full context)
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...to that suffered by British battalions on the Western Front in 1915 and early 1916. Caputo writes seventy-five or eighty reports per week and, these names mean no more to him... (full context)
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Caputo thinks of how he has been in Vietnam for seven months and has “not been... (full context)
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...of 170 men, they lose about forty to booby traps and ambush-detonated mines. He tells Caputo that he cannot sleep half the time, “thinking about those kids.” It is not a... (full context)
Chapter Fourteen
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...orderliness to this war and no solid rules of engagement. In the middle of November, Caputo requests to be transferred to a line company in 1st Battalion and his request is... (full context)
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Jim Cooney is brought in to replace Caputo. Kazmarack drives him to One-One’s headquarters, but not before Sergeant Hamilton sees Caputo off. Caputo... (full context)
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Captain Neal assigns Caputo to go up on the line that night. At about 7:00 P.M., Caputo goes to... (full context)
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...At the end of the month, the VC stage a small attack on the village. Caputo and Sergeant Coffell are talking to each other to stay awake. Automatic rifle-fire crackles behind... (full context)
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Caputo tries for fifteen minutes to get through to Captain Neal. Neal says that he has... (full context)
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Caputo stays at the Meyercourt in Saigon, a hotel reserved for soldiers on R-and-R. He sees... (full context)
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On his second day in Saigon, Caputo converses with an Indian silk merchant and, in the evening, has dinner on the terrace... (full context)
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At the end of his stay, Caputo is standing on the tarmac, waiting for a C-130 to taxi to a stop. He... (full context)
Chapter Fifteen
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...months ago. Lance Corporal Crowe walks delicately. Behind him, Allen and Lonehill look for snipers. Caputo follows them with Jones behind him, then the rest of the patrol. Jones alerts Allen... (full context)
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On the 23rd, Caputo’s regiment links up with D Company to conduct a three-day operation, called Harvest Moon, to... (full context)
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The rifleman ahead of Caputo drops to one knee and holds up his right hand to signal that everyone halt.... (full context)
Chapter Sixteen
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Caputo creeps through the grass, afraid that someone will see or hear him. He prays to... (full context)
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The marines pour volleys in the village. Allen runs up to Caputo. His blue eyes look crazed. He has seen some of the VC fleeing. Another fell... (full context)
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When the fire-fight is over, Caputo cannot come down from the high. He imagines himself as John Wayne in a war... (full context)
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...from shells smashing into the earth, which explode one after another. Then, the shelling stops. Caputo crawls out to the edge of the perimeter and sees that the platoon has survived.... (full context)
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Caputo checks the marines for immersion foot. Their shriveled skin is covered with red pustules and... (full context)
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...has blood oozing from a wound in the back of his head and his neck. Caputo thinks that this was an ambush-detonated mine. If it were a booby trap or a... (full context)
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...of shrapnel, requires more serious attention—he is in danger of drowning in his own blood. Caputo carries him to the LZ. Caputo then carries Corporal Greeley, whose left arm was torn... (full context)
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...march, someone finds a detonating cord lying in the grass near the village. In revenge, Caputo orders rocket launcher teams to fire white phosphorus shells into the hamlet. He hears people... (full context)
Chapter Seventeen
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...are to risk a daylight assault. The helicopters start to make “a tight circling descent.” Caputo hears the “muffled popping of small-arms fire” and sees puffs of smoke. A helicopter assault... (full context)
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Battalion HQ has nearly been wiped out, and Caputo’s platoon is supposed to hold the ridge until told to do otherwise. The Skyhawk planes... (full context)
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Later, while searching a village called Ha Na, a corporal approaches Caputo with a Vietnamese man at gunpoint. The man is about forty and says that he... (full context)
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The platoon is quiet again while they dig their foxholes. Caputo surmises that the burning of Ha Na arose out of some emotional necessity. The platoon... (full context)
Chapter Eighteen
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Caputo is sitting on the roof of the outpost’s command, sunning his legs. The heat is... (full context)
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Caputo asks why Crowe did not capture the two men and bring them in. Crowe says... (full context)
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Only a month remains in Caputo’s tour of Vietnam, and he hopes to leave alive and in one piece. Caputo recognizes... (full context)
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Caputo organizes Allen, Crowe, Lonehill, and two other riflemen that night. They wear bush hats and... (full context)
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The five patrolmen arrive back with the body, and Caputo examines it. The back of the man’s head was blown out. There are no documents... (full context)
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Shortly thereafter, Caputo is sitting in a hut with his defense counsel, Lieutenant Jim Rader. He looks at... (full context)
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Caputo is frightened at the prospect of being charged with murder, but he also knows that... (full context)
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Caputo and Rader have the first of many long interviews. Before they start, Caputo hands Rader... (full context)
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...relations from now on with the South Vietnamese, their fellow comrades-in-arms. A few days later, Caputo is ordered to take part in a parade in honor of a visiting dignitary, and... (full context)
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Later, Rader tells Caputo that he and Crowe have been found not guilty on all counts. The general is... (full context)
Epilogue
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Some years later, in 1975, Caputo is crouched in the second-floor corridor of the Continental Palace Hotel, wondering if the North... (full context)
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After Caputo is discharged from the Marine Corps in 1967, he briefly joins the antiwar movement and... (full context)
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...look at the wreckage from a South Vietnamese cargo plane, six thousand feet below them. Caputo thinks back to ten years before, when he and other marines marched into Vietnam, confident... (full context)
Postscript
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It took Caputo as long to write A Rumor of War as it did the United States to... (full context)
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By the fall of 1975, when Caputo is the Tribune’s Middle East correspondent in Beirut, he has accumulated a “a mass of... (full context)
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Caputo’s purpose in writing A Rumor of War was to make people understand the morally and... (full context)
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A Rumor of War is published in May 1977 and becomes an immediate sensation. Caputo is besieged by radio, TV, and print interviewers. Despite achieving success, he feels guilty, as... (full context)