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A Rumor of War

The Classic Vietnam Memoir (40th Anniversary Edition)

Philip Caputo; foreword by Kevin Powers


A Rumor of War Download image

ISBN10: 1250117127
ISBN13: 9781250117120

Trade Paperback

384 Pages



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In March of 1965, Lieutenant Philip J. Caputo landed at Danang with the first ground combat unit deployed to Vietnam. Sixteen months later, having served on the line in one of modern history’s ugliest wars, he returned home—physically whole but emotionally wasted, his youthful idealism forever gone.

A Rumor of War is far more than one soldier’s story. Upon its publication in 1977, it shattered America’s indifference to the fate of the men sent to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. In the years since then, it has become not only a basic text on the Vietnam War but also a renowned classic in the literature of wars throughout history and, as the author writes, of "the things men do in war and the things war does to them."
This new 40th anniversary edition has a new foreword by Kevin Powers.


Praise for A Rumor of War

"Caputo’s troubled, searching meditations on the love and hate of war . . . are among the most eloquent I have read in modern literature."—William Styron, The New York Review of Books

"A Rumor of War is the troubled conscience of America speaking passionately, truthfully, and finally."—Theodore Solotaroff, The New York Times Book Review

"To call it the best book about Vietnam is to trivialize it. Heartbreaking, terrifying, and enraging, it belongs to the literature of men at arms."—John Gregory Dunne, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"In this powerful book, Caputo does what most of us have yet to do: face the enemy within and overcome the wounds."—Peter J. Ognibene, The Washington Post Book World

"I hope many people in aposition to affect future diplomatic and military moves will keep Caputo’s book by their bedside. It is tough and honest; it is so honest it makes the attraction of combat understandable. This is not a simple book. It may even be profound."—Margaret Manning, The Boston Globe

"Only a warrior could have written A Rumor of War; warrior, honest man, powerful writer. His book is a grim triumph, and will live."—Stephen Becker, Chicago Daily News

"This is the hardest review I have ever had to write. I can tell you that A Rumor of War is the most daunting and significant personal account yet generated by our great dishonor, Vietnam . . . Yes, but would you read it? Oh, I’d like to have authority over your life. For just this moment. To hit you across the mouth, take your first-born child, invalidate your credit cards, whatever, if you don’t read A Rumor of War. I am that sick with passion for this book."—D. Keith Mano, National Review

"Not since Siegfried Sassoon's classic of World War I, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, has there been a war memoir so obviously true, and so disturbingly honest."—William Broyles, Texas Monthly

"Caputo’s searing account of life for an American at the end of a barrel of a gun is a classic."The Guardian (UK)

"A superb macabre evocation of those aimless searches and the destruction not only of property but of men’s bodies and minds as well . . . At times, it is hard to remember that this is not a novel."—William Shawcross, New Statesman (UK)

"This is a story of courage, comradeship, horror, and corruption, and at the same time a moving and bitter testimony . . . Vivid, real, searchingly honest, it’s war writing of a high order."Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade

How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood.…

—Wilfred Owen


At the age of twenty-four, I was more prepared for death...

About the author

Philip Caputo; foreword by Kevin Powers

PHILIP CAPUTO is an award-winning journalist—the cowinner of a Pulitzer Prize—and the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including A Rumor of War, one of the most highly praised books of the twentieth century, and the novel Some Rise by Sin. He and his wife, Leslie Ware, divide their time between Norwalk, Connecticut, and Patagonia, Arizona.

Rob O’Neal