About Phil

Philip Caputo by © Michael Priest Photography 2017Novelist 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

Comments (86)

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  1. CWO3 Mitchell K Muse USMCRet says:

    I read “A Rumor Of War” after it was first published in 1977. I just finished reading it again. Having been a grunt with 2/9 in1974 at Camp Schwab it brought back many memories of talks I had with Vietnam combat vets I served with. The personal description of your combat experience in Vietnam adds truth to the stories I heard from in 2/9. I missed being part of the BLT that assisted in the evac of Saigon due the fact I rotated off the rock in 1975. After leaving Okinawa I was reassigned to the American Embassy in Belgium. I served under GySgt Pryor (aka: Sgt Pryor) who you talk of in your book. I also served with three Marines who had been evacuated from the Embassy in Saigon. Semper Fi

  2. Mary Koch Larsen says:

    First road trip? …you, Howard, and me…heading toward Mexico but I stayed in New Orleans. Now I must read The Longest Road. Glad you are still writing/working and all appears well. mary

  3. Tom Bass says:

    I was a platoon commander in the Marines in Vietnam in 1965 and 1966. One of my men was Tom Caputo from Chicago, any chance you are related? If you are related would like to get his contact info.

  4. Bill Boverman says:

    Served in VN July ’67-’68: Army, enlisted, rear echelon. After serving, I left VN in the past and lived life. I’m now retired and have a keen interest in VN. Your book, A Rumor Of War, was mentioned in a recent NY Times article. I bought it and could not put it down. Thank You for your service in VN and thanks for the book! Plan to read The Longest Road next. My Longest Road was a 500 mile (walking) Trek in Northern Spain.

  5. Chris O'Connell says:

    Mr. Caputo,

    I am a PHD research student currently living in Sydney Australia and intrigued with American politics surrounding the Vietnam War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Speaking as a decorated veteran and renowned writer yourself, Could you please give me your personal opinion on the similarities and/or differences between the 2 conflicts? In what way(s) is/has America dealt with the tragedy of Vietnam?

    Kind regards,

    • In a phrase, both conflicts were unnecessary. Most of the wars in our history have been unnecessary, the exceptions being the American Revolution, the Civil War, and WW II. I think our intervention in Afghanistan had to be undertaken after 9/11, but we’ll have to wait to see how that one turns out. By and large, America dealt with Vietnam by forgetting about it for some 25 or 30 years, then began to look at it sentimentally as time passed. This country has never dealt properly with the disruptive effects the war had on our politics and culture, our society. Strong echoes of those effects can be seen today, in our present divisiveness and polarization.

  6. Donald F Cusack says:

    Dear Mr.Caputo;

    I was with Lima/3/9 on 8 March 1965. I have checked my Btn book and can not find any Lt.Caputo listed. You say you landed with us on Red Beach in March.

    Thank You
    Donald F Cusack

    • I make it very clear in A Rumor of War that I landed at the Danang airfield with C/1/3. Whoever said I was at Red Beach with 3/9 was either wrong or speaking about my evil twin.

  7. Brian Lowe says:

    I have read Rumor many times since serving in the Cdn Army reserve. What resonates still is the concept of regular men rising to conduct superhuman feats of endurance in combat. Remarkable

  8. Robert H. (Mike) Whitney says:

    Phil – just reread Rumors for the 3rd time. I am 3 yrs older than you, Yalie USMC PLC Lt (“59 – ’62), but was born lucky. Your book was so telling, reflected all the realities, smells, personae, atmospheres that I knew. The truths in it are profound, and all the events I did not have to endure. You and Marlantes have completely dominated the field re Vietnam and for all wars -re the truths of it all. Esp. impactful a/c there but the for the grace of God etc. I reread books like yours often as a small measure of honor for all the men who served at the pointy end of the spear. And I try to pass on the wisdom and realities of your book to the young men who are today wiling to serve. All this you have heard before – just adding to the chorus. Semper Fi Mike Whitney

  9. Tom Haight says:

    Just finished “The Longest Road” and thoroughly enjoyed it! I read “A Rumor of War” in the 70’s while teaching @ East Leyden HS, Chicago suburb school, and often referred to it in my classes. Had never heard of ‘friendly fire’ until I read the book. Thanks again.

    –Tom Haight, St. Petersburg, FL

  10. Hi, I have a knitting blog, but on Monday’s I do a meme run by a book blog and I talk about my current read. Years ago I gave my dad the book “Wild Stories: The Best of Men’s Journal”, and it found its way into the family’s Adirondack cabin, so I borrowed it. I’ve been reading “Alone” this week and did this blog today. I found your theme a comforting thought in light of the past weekend and I’m trying to apply it, even if it’s walks out in our Colorado landscape here at the base of Pikes Peak. Thanks.

  11. Jim Bahm says:


    I thought Longest Road was an excellent read about the intricacies of the American spirit. Kudos! ……On a totally different note I read Rumor of War a long time ago. I currently teach a high school class on the Vietnam War and show the TV version of that book in class. I was curious as to your thoughts about how Hollywood interpreted Rumor of War and Brad Davis’ portrayal of you.

    • I thought the TV movie was as faithful to the book as a dramatization could be. It was shot on a tight budget, so the production values were not what they would have been in a big-budget feature film, like, say, “Platoon” or “Full Metal Jacket.” Davis’s portrayal was pretty well done, although I had to coach him several times on how a marine infantry officer conducts himself in combat. Reviews were generally good; a few were raves.

  12. Brian Smith says:

    I have taken A Rumor of War off my bookshelf countess times since I bought it about a decade ago. Of all the war memoirs I’ve read, yours continues to draw me in with how it explores the mind on the conduct of war in great chronological fashion, in a way I’ve never really found elsewhere.
    At this point in your life I’m sure you’re tired of hearing about that book and those experiences. But if you will, I always had one question, feasibly provoked by being a combat vet myself, that I wanted to reach through the pages to ask you —
    You’ve almost made it a passion of yours to tell about the horrors of war, whether in Southeast Asia, Palestine, or a subtle mention of some other conflicts through your subsequent writings. The rational of us can agree that war is terrible. But to me it doesn’t seem you ever speak to the function of it. What is your civil, requisite alternative? Should the 82nd not have dropped into Normandy, and should we rob them of their courage and effect on history? Should we allow total freedom of movement for all of our enemies, let the North take the South in Korea and Vietnam or the Taliban to maintain a radical nation? Is our inaction against their constant warring a more civilized solution?
    I ask because you make great points of how war is nothing less than horrific, but generally only use examples where defeat is the outcome. Victory or defeat it’s all terrible. But so isn’t heart surgery, or sometimes policing, etc… There is supposed to be an end state, a desired effect. Why do you never speak to the valor that men displayed in their own actions, without order, and changed history for us all?

  13. George vondruska says:

    Phil, it has been over 50 years since we worked together at 3M. You still look “ripped” at 74 and I consider that I am in good shape at 76. Now retired after selling my business in mpls, I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, enjoying the good life in one of th last frontiers of our wonderful country. My daughter gave me a copy of “The Longest Road” which I just read…great story! I think what holds us together is our diversity. I will always be a big fan and have always admired the wonderful talent you have as a story teller and wordsmith. If ever in our neighborhood or just ” hankrin’,for some fly fishing in the Northwoods, come see me. George

  14. Elizabeth Hampton says:

    My brother was a Lance Cororal in your outfit in 65, and suffered from PTSD till he died in 2011. We talked about the necessity and futility of war. We concurred that there are times when it is wrong not to fight, but the consequences for the Marines and soldiers are lifelong. There seems to be no way to restore the gentle souls that were ravaged by combat. War is a rape of all the rules and morals they were raised to obey.

  15. R.Gordon Williams says:

    Dear Philip

    Recently read your article “Extricating Oneself from Vietnam” in the VVA Veteran magazine’s November/December issue. Your commentary about the “guardrails missing in Vietnam” is so insightful and accurate about the inclinations that we all faced while there to regress into that other person. Served with the Americal Division out of Chu Lai (69-70) and we had our many encounters with the enemy. Have spent most of my career as a psychologist working with Vietnam and other veterans attempting to help people emotionally return home. A daunting task which you share light on with your comments in the article. We have an active chapter of VVA ( Chapter 337) here in western Kentucky and I will emphasize to the guys that they read your article and will encourage my veteran clients to do likewise. Again, many thanks for a beautifully expressive article and I do hope that more readers attend to your many other non Nam works. Take care and thanks for attempting to enlighten others about the struggles we all brought back with us from Vietnam.

    • Thanks for the comments. Maybe we ought to say that the guardrails are missing in all wars. I read a review in today’s Wall Street Journal about a new history of the Battle of Bulge. It doesn’t gloss over the harsh realities of that clash of arms — no gooey crap about the “good” war and the “greatest generation.” The ferocity of the fighting combined with dreadful weather and terrain conditions to reduce German, British, and American soldiers to a primitive, brutish state. Atrocities were committed by both sides, prisoners were executed on the spot, savagery was the order of the day. Some wars are necessary — WWII was one — but there is no such thing as a “good” war.

  16. Steve Algorri says:

    Phil, I was a Commissioned Marine 1977-1992. For my contemporaries I feel safe in saying that your book was our ‘everything’. We are both proud of you and share kinship.
    While your experience was greater than ours, no one has ever spoken w greater alacrity nor approached the intangible of a company grade officer in our Corps quite like you have.
    It is the most ordinary of perspectives, yet the least understood. Your quips, quotes, and insights have spoken for us and withstood the test of time.
    Pure (non-lifer) dignity.
    The heart of our Corps.
    Thanks Buddy

  17. David Perry says:

    Read Rumor of War. Excellent reading. I never served….would have been drafted in 1971 (draft lotto # 75) but had student deferment. College. Did not go to college to avoid draft……was my plan from childhood. I have three sons that all served in the USMC. Youngest did 4 tours in Iraq. God bless our young men and women in the military. I am saddened by the number of young men who lost their lives in Viet Nam, and proud of those who had to endure that jungle and enemy. I was honored to play taps at a local funeral(s) for three of our hometown men who lost their lives. It was in 1966-67 & 68. I have my opinion of how Viet Nam should have been dealt with. We could have been victorious in that conflict.

  18. Phil—Great book! (Acts of Faith) Your website seems hung up on Vietnam when you haven’t ceased from taking on the very world. Your greatness: the world doesn’t see it–or I don’t. But I guess it’s better to be remembered wrongly than not to be remembered at all. (I keep telling myself.)

    • Annie — Good to hear from you, and thanks for the comment on Acts of Faith. Take another look at this website — I don’t think it’s hung up on Vietnam. The hang-up lies elsewhere; e.g. the Times asked me to review a new novel by a Vietnamese-American about the war; I’ve been invited to speak at a symposium about the legacy of the war at Rice University. Ditto for another at Norwich University in Vermont. This kind of thing goes on all the time — it’s as if no one is aware that I’ve written anything except A Rumor of War. I guess there are worse ways to be cursed than to have written a classic your first time out of the gate. Also, the Vietnam War, though it “began” (for the U.S., that is) half a century ago, seems to have made an indelible impression on the American imagination.

      Your long-term memory appears to be better than mine. I don’t recall getting mad at you, when we last met (whenever that was), for not remembering that we’d met before. But if I did, it certainly wasn’t intentional, and I apologize for it.

      Best Regards, Phil.

  19. Kid New Mexico says:

    the american west is, is is is !!!!

  20. Kid New Mexico says:

    Mr Caputo,

    I envy your trip and applaud your talent as a writer and I salute you. I am especially fond of your section in your book The Longest Road where you give a shout out to my home state of NM. I only wished more people from the east coast would venture west of the Mississippi and visit. (And not just California.) Maybe then they would notice how vast and how special the American West was. Kerouac knew this as did Steinbeck. I hope to read more of your books. Your books have the right touch of philosophy with people’s individual stories mixed in. Thank you for your talent.
    Keith “Kid NM” Andrew, born NM proud in Silver City, NM

  21. John Halter says:

    Dear Mr. Caputo,

    Thought I’d read all the good boat books ever written and then a friend slipped me a copy of The Voyage. Your description of riding through a hurricane is so believable that I have to wonder if you haven’t been upside down in a boat at least once in your life. Which is not to say that the rest of the book didn’t keep me spellbound, too. There’s nothing quite as exciting in literature as discovering a kindred soul. Next up: The Longest Road. Is it okay to read backward through one’s oeuvre?

    Kind regards…

  22. Joe Pegnato says:

    Dear Phil,

    Loved your A Rumor of War. After going through Ft. Benning’s Army Infantry Officers School in the Spring of 1965 and not going to Vietnam, I felt guilt over that. But after reading your detailed account of what it was like, I feel fortunate not to have fought in that jungle.

    Joe Pegnato

  23. Jeff Price says:

    Phil: Happened to catch your talk about Beirut days on The Moth yesterday and wondered how best to get in touch. Hope you’re well, Jeff

  24. Martin Preib says:


    Martin Preib here. We met at the library foundation event. I’m the cop writer. Great to chat with you.


    Thought you would be interested in this essay I wrote recently in light of your coverage of the Days of Rage as a reporter. Would love to chat with you if you ever have the time. Take Care, Marty

  25. Robbie Orr says:

    I just finished reading Rumors of War. Best VN book I’ve read so far. A number of us are trying to organize events in St. Paul / Minneapolis for the upcoming 40th anniversary of the end of the war. Not sure just what it will look like yet but would you be willing able to come for book readings? A speech? I am working with Vets for Peace on this but we want to provide a wide diversity of reality because that is what we lived through back then, as much as we wanted to believe there was one right and one wrong side.


  26. Silvia Shanahan says:

    From another reader who just finished reading “The Longest Road”…I so enjoyed hearing the personal stories of ordinary citizens and their resilience in coping with these changing times.
    After finishing the book, I yearned for more similar travel stories and happened to find the following at a used book sale:

    The Road North: A Woman’s Adventure Driving The Alaska Highway, 1947 1948
    By Iris Woolcock

    She was a photographer, traveling solo with a 27 foot Alma trailer, her cat, and towed by a WWII jeep, from Florida to Fairbanks, Alaska

  27. Dear Mr. Caputo,
    Watching CCN’s series on “The Sixties”, your name came appeared. I told my house mate, “That name rings a bell somehow, but I don’t remember” Went on line, and there it was….”graduated Fenwick High School” Then I recalled that I had read “A Rumor of War” Sorry that our days at Fenwick didn’t overlap. I taught Senior Theology from Fall of 1962 to January, 1969. I was twice elected Prior of the Dominican Community there. In 1970, I was assigned as pastor of St Albert the Great Parish here in Minneapolis. However, I departed the Order & the priesthood back in 1977. It was a matter of conscience for me on certain moral issues, e.g. birth control.

    I just wanted to greet you, thank you for your books, and especially for attending Fenwick.

    God bless.

    Austin McGinley

  28. Ron Del Ciello says:

    Mr. Caputo,

    I just finished reading the Longest Road and I want to thank you for a wonderful experience. I’m about your age and so much of what fyou rote so well resonates with me. Reading it I had the strong desire to invite you for a cup of coffee at my kitchen table – followed perhaps by a Saltimbocca alla Romana!

    Thanks again
    Ron Del Ciello

  29. Dixie Bryant says:

    I just finished reading the Longest Road and re-reading the beginning to calculate dates and how this all began. I appreciated the sage advice on traveling with your partner, being a veteran of the road trip for 20 years with my husband Mike. My heart goes out to you with the loss of Sage that December, but smile at the memories you created that last year. Our Dalmatian, Jake, holds fond and exasperating memories for us on the road from eating the pockets out of my husband’s jeans to get to a piece of gum, to protecting me on a remote horse trail from two charging fangs bared guard dogs (I never knew he had a fighting bone in his body.)
    My question: why do you call yourself a “former journalist” in the “about the author” final page of the book? Are you hanging up your spurs? I had thought “once a writer – always a writer” or is a journalist a different species of the writing animal?

  30. Andrew Breza says:

    I’ve read a number of road trip memoirs, but I want to say how enthralled I am with Longest Road. You strike a rare balance between journalistic objectivity and personal recollection. Now I want to start reading your other books.

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  32. Rob Weaver says:

    Hi Phil

    You and I met one Christmas in Beirut. I think you had just arrived to take up your post. I was the Cairo correspondent for the Visnews television agency, on holiday in Beirut for Christmas. As I recall we lunched with our wives in the hotel in which we were staying, though I cannot remember the name. After I went back to Cairo you were shot and wounded at a checkpoint I believe? I often wondered what had happened to you after that. Then I stumbled on this site. I must get hold of a couple of your books.


  33. don wendling says:

    Hello Mr Caputo ur writings cool boss

  34. Jason Oberg says:

    Hi Philip,
    I just finished The Longest Road the other day and what a great read! My wife, who does not read, wants to read it! Thank you for such great work.

    Jason Oberg
    Albany, MN

  35. Ross Thomas says:

    Hi again Philip

    Deadhorse – finally arrived on my vicarious journey across the US heartland and enjoyed every minute of it! I loved returning to Astoria, a favorite place after my visit there in May. A kind restaurateur there gave me the best clam chowder recipe. Fort Ketchup (good one) was the final stop on my Lewis and Clark mini-pilgrimage having visited Great Falls and done some white-water rafting on the Yellowstone from Gardner. I thought we had our own great explorers but L & C are in a league of their own. We never had a Jefferson – could do with one now!

    I am glad you have seen some of our Outback though it is much different now – I have just returned from 6 weeks fishing across the north. I spent my youth in the 60’s in the Kimberley region (Australia’s last frontier) but you now find new-fangled devices like telephone (even cell-phones!), television, health-care, etc. Stockman (cowhands) now carry laptops rather than Colt 45s (the old weapon of choice in those parts). Crocodiles are now protected and, given their numbers and size (5+ metres), are now steadily eating their way through the cattle herds and the unwary tourists.

    Cattle stations are now subject to corporate aggregation with helicopters more prevalent than horses, indigenous cowhands long since despatched to town and the unhealthy attractions found there. Victoria River Downs going against the trend now being only 3,500 square miles down from its original 16,000. (Anna Creek in central Australia is 9,400 sq mi!)

    Keep those stories coming!

    Cheers, Ross

  36. Ross Thomas says:

    Hi Philip

    I’m an Aussie not long returned from a four week road trip around Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon and Washington states. What a great journey; what a great country. (Some of my distant family died of cholera in 1854 near Fort Laramie.)

    Keen to learn more of the US, I stumbled on your ‘The Longest Road’ and find it a great read – I have only travelled as far as the Pine Ridge Reservation but am sure the next half will be as rewarding as the first!

    There are many similarities in our two countries. One that disturbs me is how alike are the parlous states of some of our indigenous peoples. Australia has it share of communities that seem a lot like Pine Ridge.

    Keep on writing – you have a great skill and I look forward to reading more of your books.

    Cheers, Ross

    • Hello, Ross — Thanks for taking the time to write. I’m glad you enjoyed your journey, and the “virtual” one you took with me on The Longest Road. You’re spot on about the similarities between the aboriginals of Australia and the U.S. Even if we had treated them benignly — which we certainly did not do — they probably would have ended up in the condition they’re now in. Primitive cultures cannot withstand contact with modern, industrialized civilization. I was in Australia for 10 weeks in 1985, traveling the outback in Queensland and the NT on a magazine assignment. Loved it, sleeping out in the open most nights, and, as in the American West, looking at horizons that seemed to go on forever. Loved the people, too. Raucous and witty and a lot of fun. On the cattle stations I visited, I often felt as if I were in Texas, circa 1875, minus the Comanches.

      There must be a story in how your family got from Fort Laramie all the way to Australia.

      Cheers, Phil

  37. Jason Oberg says:

    Hi Philip,
    Just want to say what a tremendous fan I am of your writing. The son of a Vietnam Veteran, I first read A Rumor of War while a college undergrad and never forgot it. Between the vivid descriptions accented by Sassoon, Owen and Frost so many doors were opened. I truly appreciate your polished writing style. Your Indian Country and Means of Escape were also great accomplishments. I have a hard time putting your books down. Will definitely be reading the Longest Road next. Thank you for your great writing. I appreciate you.

    All the best,
    Albany, MN

  38. William J. Davis says:

    Mr. Caputo,
    I just finished reading A Rumor Of War. I am a retired high school English teacher and a U.S. Army Veteran. I was a Sheridan Tank Commander with the 3rd Sqdn., 8th Cav. Your novel is the best I have ever encountered on the subject of War Literature. It is the real story of America’s involvement in Vietnam. A history book that flows with vivid realizations about a war that tested the mettle of our “Ground-Pounders” to the absolute limit of their physical and mental capacity. This is the definitive story of our early involvement in Vietnam. It may very well be the greatest literary achievement ever written about Vietnam. Your meticulously blended ideas transform the work into a “must-read-on” novel with unparalleled imagery. I read every word, cover to cover, and utilized my highlighter to capture the most thought-provoking details. Thank you for A Rumor Of War and thank you for your service to our country.

  39. Gabrielle Lucci says:

    Going back in time to your book, Ghosts of Tsavo…I just finished it in preparation for a pleasure trip to Africa early next year. Not quite the same kind of trip as yours. My husband and I will be going with a small tour group based in Canada, likely the only Americans, and we will be doing the upper park loop in Tanzania. I enjoyed the story and your writing and wondered if there were any post scripts to the story which have come to light about the lions since the book was published. It would be nice to impress my tour guides and fellow adventurers. Best regards. Gabrielle

  40. Bill Spanos says:

    Dear Philip;

    Greetings from a fellow Chicagoan (12/02/41) and transplant to the DC Metro area courtesy of
    the US Army (The Old Guard), and still a loyal Cub fan.
    I just finished reading The Longest Road…….fantastic read……..brought back memories of my
    own “Rt 66/Kerouac” adventure in late 1963(Chicago – Half Moon Bay, CA) prior to my Army draft.
    I got the book from one of my clients, Tom Furlong, former National Editor of the Los Angeles Times,
    and also a fellow Chicagoan. Tom asked that I pass the book on to another person which I did….my
    business partners husband, a former Marine, who will pass it along to yet another person and so on, I
    I’m sure that your schedule is quite busy but I would like the opportunity to meet you someday. Are you
    scheduled for any future visits/speeches, etc. to the mid-Atlantic area?

    All the best in the future,


  41. Peter Jensen says:

    Dear Philip: Your sister Mary was my 6th grade teacher, back in 1966-67. After your return she would share with us kids some of the issues about the war that you had discussed with her. I remember that she was very supportive of you and had us kids send Christmas cards to other guys over in Nam. I later went on to become a veteran myself in the early 1970s. If you have a chance to talk to Mary, please give her my regards and let her know I think of her often.

    • Philip Caputo says:

      I’m afraid you have me confused with someone else. I don’t have a sister named Mary who taught grade school. Thanks for writing anyway.

  42. Marilyn Pilon says:

    Hi Phil,
    Remember us – Ron & Marilyn Pilon. Just purchased a book of your for a friend who likes your original book Rumor of War. Wondered if there is a way for me to contact you by phone or e-mail. Would love to talk to you.
    Marilyn Pilon

    • Philip Caputo says:

      Sorry for not replying sooner. I was on holiday in Italy. Received your note and will answer soon as I can.

      • Marilyn Pilon says:

        Hi Phil,
        How delighted I was to hear from you & will look forward to your contacting me when you have time.
        Marilyn Pilon

  43. Marilyn (Ron) Pilon says:

    Hi Phil,
    Do you renenber us? We met during our Moscow days before you became famous. Would love to be in contact with you. I live in SC now. My phone is 864-944-6007. Hope all is well with you. Wonder how the boys are doing and if either or both became writers.
    With wonderful memories of cross country skiing, etc.,
    Marilyn Pilon

  44. James Coffey says:

    Just finished The longest road. Enjoyed it from beginning to end..
    I have a comment..On page 188 the footnote states that Custer was
    a Lt. Col at the battle of the Big Horn..also I have just read
    Ulysses Grant in War and Peace and it states on page 565 that
    Sherman and Grant refer to Custer as “General” for this mission to
    the Black Hills. The Source notes say this came from “Grants Papers”
    My visit to the site was long ago and I don’t remember what he was.
    Would you clarify this for me?..
    Thanks again and I am hoping to read all of your books..

    • Philip Caputo says:

      Custer received a brevet, or temporary, rank of General during the Civil War (at age 23!). After the war, he was reverted to the permanent rank of Lt. Col., but he was frequently referred to as “General.”

  45. Graham MacDermott says:

    Ordered The Longest Road from Barnes & Noble and am reading it on my Nook. It’s a wonderful read and must have been a great adventure. Know what you mean by being left in the digital dust but I do appreciate my electronic reader and am particularly fond of my gps. We are “winter Texans” and travel each October 5000 kms south to our home in Mission, Texas. Your book inspires me to take a bit longer on the road. We always seem to be in a hurry to reach our destination. We spend six months there and six on our lake in Nova Scotia. The best of both worlds.
    I’m a retired college principal and plugging away on my first effort at a novel. Should your travels ever bring you to the east coast of Canada we would be delighted to see that you have the best feed of lobster ever.
    My wife, Bonnie, also traces her family roots to the Mayflower.

    Graham MacDermott

  46. David Bez says:

    Enjoyed this one. There is something magical that happens when a good writer can catch a weather eye on the heart of America while on the road, while at the same time filling in the historical and cultural highways and by ways along the way. On another note, got some what stumped on page 238, when the attention was to Whitman but then, Wordsworth got into the dialogue–What did I miss?

  47. Diane Legare says:

    I have read a lot of books and must say that The Longest Road will remain one of my favorites. I am an avid 84 year old reader who has had the opportunity to travel quite a lot and how I wish I could have covered those 11000 + miles! I followed your travels with a map and was green with envy all the way. Lucky Leslie and what a wonderful companion she was. I felt a bit sorry for Sage and Sky though, being confined to such a small space for so long, and being left outside on those cold nights.
    Thank you Phil, for a beautiful memoir.

    Diane, Montreal, Qc. Canada

  48. Janet Pina says:

    Dear Mr. Caputo, just a note to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter of your new book, The Longest Road. We were able to take 2 RV trips of 3 mos., in 1985 and again in 1987–thus setting foot in each of the 50 states (previously one air-sea-land tour of AK and several trips to HI. AK was a 2 week trip on a bus from Anchorage to Fairbanks to Whitehorse, train to Skagway, boat to Juneau, cruise ship to Vancouver and fly home–2 wonderful sunny weeks in Sept. 1978, no bugs, no rain, perfect views of Denali and lots of sightseeing features.) I look back fondly at these swings around the country–we used America From the Road published by Reader’s Digest to locate features in each state we did not want to miss. I was especially intent on seeing Texas, Key West, and Maine. Our first RV was a truck camper, then a 20 ft. motorhome pulling a VW, and finally a 26 ft. fiver trailer/pickup combo. We were able to live in this trailer once when we were between houses and I miss it–however, at 78 and 86, we are more comfortable taking guided bus tours and sleeping in nice hotels. RVing is a wonderful way of life and we did it on the cheap for over 30 years. We did a lot of dry camping and learned to minimize the amount of grey and black water we put into our holding tanks, by utilizing paper plates and bathhouses. I found your account of life on the road with your spouse and two dogs so interesting that I read it almost straight through. You have a gift for writing lively impressions of the locals you met along the way and making me want to go visit some of the places you stayed. Most of our vacation camping was done in western states b/c we have always lived in CA so we focused on the states closest to us. We have had many wonderful vacations in AZ, from Monument Valley to White Mountains, Jerome to Bisbee. I guarantee you, you will never forget your longest road trip to research your book and fulfill the goal you set out in the preface. You and your wife will be laughing and recalling incidents on the road for the rest of your lives, every time you see an Airstream you will be reminded of what it was like to live and travel in one! Happy trails to both of you!

    Janet & Lloyd Pina, Vista, CA

    • mike ferguson says:

      Mr. Caputo,

      I read A Rumor for the first time in early 1984; since then several times again. I’m a former Marine and identified with your experiences as a platoon commander. I’m 8th Marine regiment Beirut survivor grunt and found it interesting you also encountered harrowing experiences in that wonderful city.

      Anyway, the war in Vietnam was certainly more intense than our little adventure in Beirut, reading your work then, so closely following my foray into the void, leftt a deep impression on me. I didn’t really know how to artculate my own disillusionment until I read your work.

      Anyhow, going to drag out my old dog eared copy of The Rumor soon and go at it again.

      Semper Fi,


  49. Joan Upthegrove says:

    My brother Cpl Paul W Upthegrove was in your outfit, landing in Vietnam in March of 1965. He was awarded a Bronze Star for rescuing another Marine while under fire. Paul passed away from PTSD and lifelong health problems due to His service. It would mean a lot to me, and to Paul’s daughters, to know if you remembered him. He was a Canadian, a vibrant personality. He was buddies with Wayne Hopp.

  50. Momo says:

    We were required to read your book, A Rumor of War, for my college-level American history class. Part of the assignment was to write an essay on the book emphasizing how and why during the course of your time in Vietnam you changed from being optimistic to more pessimistic about America’s involvement in the war. More importantly, I felt some need to answer your question “How would I have behaved if I were there?” as a larger part of the essay, because I think that was what the professor was driving at.

    This is an incredibly difficult question to answer, particularly since I was not there and I have never seen battle. But I decided to answer the question anyway. I know that many in your generation of people did not look favorably on Vietnam Vets. But I can say with certain confidence that the younger generations do not feel this way. I think I can speak for most of us born to or after the Baby Boomers. Mostly, I suspect I would not have behaved any differently; I don’t think any of us would have based on your story and by that very realization I have concluded we are all the same in your actions. Not guilty or innocent, just the same. To think otherwise is very arrogant. So I feel that we the younger generations will never judge you, for to do so is to negatively judge ourselves as well.

  51. pam aunan says:

    USMail address? I want to send a note…complimentary, of course.

  52. Phil,
    Congratulations on your latest book. I have noted your career over the years, beginning with the Tribune. It is a long way from our early days at Purdue. I believe you made a wise decision to change your career path when you did as it has apparently paid off well. Your contributions to literature have been well received as they should.
    Best wishehs, Floyd Kettering

  53. Jim Jackson says:

    Greetings, Phil,
    I’m thinking of you because I just saw your son, Marc, on CNN. Seems a sharp and smart young reporter. I was a colleague of yours at the Trib in the 70s, and preceded you in the Moscow bureau. Glad to see you are still writing and aging gracefully.
    I’m retired and living in my hometown of Santa Fe, divorced and remarried to an old school friend. I published a novel, Dzherzinsky Square, in 1986, but decided I preferred the security of a salary so stuck with Time Magazine. I wound up my career as a senior editor at Time, based in London.
    Best regards, Jim Jackson

  54. Phil A. says:

    Dear Mr. Caputo:I really did enjoy your article in today’s Parade Magazine. I would like to point something out which seems to be a common misclassification amongst the American peoples. I too grew up in Chicago and am of Polish Jewish descent . You placed Jews smack dab in the middle of nationalities when you described the ethnic and racial attributes of the city. In fact I think you know better that Jews are part of many nationalities of the world as are Christians and Muslims. In all my years I still don’t understand why many people think being Jewish is a nationality in itself. Even Israel has citizens that are non-Jews. Let’s not try and propagate the ignorance.

    • Philip Caputo says:

      No, Jews are not a nationality in and of themselves, but they are considered an ethnic group, as are Arabs (also from many different countries). It was Jewish as an ethnicity that I was referring to.

  55. I have read most of your books since reading A Rumor of War. Your books are keepers in my library, along with a select few others. I plan to get The Longest Road as soon as I can.

    Warren US Army 1964-67

  56. Lois & Ron Ziegler says:

    what a fabulous website for a most interesting, accomplished man!

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