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.
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A Conversation with Philip Caputo about Crossers
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 ...
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