Novelist and journalist Philip Caputo (1941 — ) was born in Chicago and educated at Purdue and Loyola Universities. After graduating in 1964, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years, including a 16-month tour of duty in Vietnam. He has written 16 books, including two memoirs, five books of general nonfiction, and nine novels.
His latest novel, SOME RISE BY SIN, published in May 2017. It tells the story of Timothy Riordan, a Franciscan priest struggling to walk a moral path through the shifting and fatal realities of an isolated Mexican village that is menaced by a bizarre, cultish drug cartel infamous for its brutality. As the townspeople try to defend themselves by forming a vigilante group, the Mexican army and police have their own ways of fighting back. Riordan, an American missionary, must decide whether to betray his vows to stop the unspeakable violence and help the people he has pledged to protect.
His fellow expatriate, Lisette Moreno, serves the region in a different way, as a doctor who makes “house calls” to impoverished settlements, advocating modern medicine to a traditional society wary of outsiders. To gain acceptance, she must keep secret her rocky love affair with artist Pamela Childress, whose troubled emotions lead Moreno to question their relationship.
Together, Lisette and Riordan tend to their community. But when Riordan oversteps the bounds of his position, his personal crisis echoes the impossible choices facing a nation beset by instability and bloodshed.
SOME RISE BY SIN is Caputo’s first book since 2013, when he published the travel/adventure book THE LONGEST ROAD: Overland in Search of America from Key West to the Arctic Ocean. A New York Times best seller, it describes an epic road trip from the southernmost point in the U.S., Key West, Florida, to the northernmost that can be reached by road, Deadhorse, Alaska, on the Arctic Ocean. The journey took 4 months and covered 17,000 miles. Though it bears Caputo’s unique stamp, the narrative fuses elements of John Steinbeck, Jack Kerouac, William Least Moon, and Charles Kuralt. Caputo interviewed more than 80 Americans from all walks of life to get a picture of what their lives and the life of the nation are like in the 21st century.
His first book, the acclaimed memoir of Vietnam, A RUMOR OF WAR, has been published in 15 languages, has sold over 1.5 million copies since its publication in 1977, and is widely regarded as a classic in the literature of war. It was adapted for the screen as a two-part mini-series that aired on CBS in 1980. Henry Holt & Co., its original publisher, brought out a 40th anniversary edition in August 2017.
Caputo’s 2005 novel ACTS OF FAITH, a story about war, love, and the betrayal of ideals set in war-torn Sudan is considered his masterpiece in fiction, and has sold 102,000 copies to date. It was recently optioned for film or television adaptation. A subsequent novel, CROSSERS, set against a backdrop of drug and illegal-immigrant smuggling on the Mexican border, was published in hardcover in 2009 by Alfred A. Knopf and in paperback by Vintage in 2010. CROSSERS has been optioned for a feature film or TV adaptation by American Entertainment Investors, Inc., one of the leading financial advisors to the independent film industry.
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. Topics included profiles of novelist William Styron and actor Robert Redford, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the turmoil on the Mexican border.
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. In 1977, he left the paper to devote himself to writing books and magazine articles.
Caputo has won 10 journalistic and literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 (shared for team investigative reporting on vote fraud in Chicago), the Overseas Press Club Award in 1973, the Sidney Hillman Foundation award in 1977 (for A Rumor of War), the Connecticut Book Award in 2006, and the Literary Lights Award in 2007. His first novel, Horn of Africa, was a National Book Award finalist in 1980, and his 2007 essay on illegal immigration won the Blackford Prize for nonfiction from the University of Virginia.
He and his wife, Leslie Ware, a retired editor for Consumer Reports magazine, and now a painter and novelist in her own right, divide their time between Connecticut and Arizona. Caputo has two sons from a previous marriage, Geoffrey, a jazz composer and music teacher, and Marc, a political reporter for Politico.
Downloadable head shots of Philip Caputo.
Please credit © Michael Priest Photography
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