Philip Caputo biography

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Philip Caputo
Photo: Michael Priest

Philip Caputo

Philip Caputo Biography

Novelist and journalist Philip Caputo has written 15 books, including two memoirs, five books of general nonfiction, and eight novels. His acclaimed memoir of Vietnam, A Rumor of War, has been published in 15 languages, has sold two million copies since its publication in 1977, and is widely regarded as a classic in the literature of war. His most recent novel, Crossers, is set against a backdrop of drug and illegal-immigrant smuggling on the Mexican border. The Longest Road, a travel/adventure book, was published by Henry Holt in the summer of 2013.

In addition to books, Caputo has published dozens of major magazine articles, reviews, and op-ed pieces in publications ranging from the New York Times, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post to Esquire, National Geographic, and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Caputo's professional writing career began in 1968, when he joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune, serving as a general assignment and team investigative reporter until 1972. For the next five years, he was a foreign correspondent for that newspaper, stationed in Rome, Beirut, Saigon, and Moscow.

He has lectured at approximately 20 universities and prep schools around the country, has been a featured speaker for the National Book Committee, the American Library Association, and the American Publisher's Association, and a participant at the Key West Literary Seminar, the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival, the Chicago Humanities Festival, and the Cheltenham Literary Festival in Cheltenham, England.

He has also worked as a screenwriter for Paramount Pictures and Michael Douglas Productions. He has been a guest on the Charlie Rose Show and the Today Show and has narrated or appeared in several TV documentaries on the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and other subjects.

Philip Caputo's website

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Interview

A conversation with Philip Caputo about Crossers, set in a remote corner of the American Southwest close to the Mexican border where violence is a constant presence.

Was there a particular idea or event that was the genesis of this novel?

In 2006 I'd started doing research and interviews for a nonfiction piece about border issues for the Virginia Quarterly Review. In the course of that work, I'd stumbled on historical material and was fascinated to learn that what we think of as contemporary problems on the Mexican border – illegal immigration, smuggling, violence – go back at least a hundred years. I was also struck by the similarities between the Mexican drug cartels and today's Islamist terrorists. The former are motivated by greed, the latter by religious and political fanaticism, but they are alike in the atrocities they commit, in their utter lack of compassion and conscience. The stories illegal immigrants told me about their sufferings moved me as well. One of those tales involved a man who was abandoned by his coyote (as immigrant smugglers are called), got lost in the mountains, and nearly died before he was rescued by a rancher I know. Moral conflict and moral ambiguity are themes that have consumed me throughout my career, and there is plenty of both on the border. All of this seemed a rich vein for a novel. I never experienced a "eureka" moment, ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Philip Caputo at BookBrowse
Some Rise by Sin jacket Crossers jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Philip Caputo but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Cormac McCarthy

    Cormac McCarthy

    Cormac McCarthy was born in Rhode Island. He attended the University of Tennessee in the early 1950s, and joined the U.S. Air Force, serving four years, two of them stationed in Alaska. McCarthy then returned to the ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Crossers

    Try:
    All The Pretty Horses
    by Cormac McCarthy

  • Robert Olmstead

    Robert Olmstead

    Robert Olmstead is the author of six previous books. Coal Black Horse was the winner of the Heartland Prize for Fiction and the Ohioana Award, was a #1 Book Sense Pick, and was a Borders Original Voices pick. Olmstead is the ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Crossers

    Try:
    Far Bright Star
    by Robert Olmstead

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Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Overstory
    The Overstory
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    Many glowing adjectives can be used to describe a novel by Richard Powers: brilliant, moving, ...
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  • Book Jacket: I Found My Tribe
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    Ruth O'Neill was only 28 when she married film director Simon Fitzmaurice in 2004. Changing her...
  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
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    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

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    A riveting story of survival, and the power of stories to save us.
    Reader Reviews

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