Acts of Faith

“Devastating. . . . Acts of Faith will be to the era of the Iraq war what Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American became to the Vietnam era. . . . Powerful.” —The New York Times



Philip Caputo’s tragic and epically ambitious new novel is set in Sudan, where war is a permanent condition. Into this desolate theater come aid workers, missionaries, and mercenaries of conscience whose courage and idealism sometimes coexist with treacherous moral blindness. There’s the entrepreneurial American pilot who goes from flying food and medicine to smuggling arms, the Kenyan aid worker who can’t help seeing the tawdry underside of his enterprise, and the evangelical Christian who comes to Sudan to redeem slaves and falls in love with a charismatic rebel commander.

As their fates intersect and our understanding of their characters deepens, it becomes apparent that Acts of Faith is one of those rare novels that combine high moral seriousness with irresistible narrative wizardry.




From The New Yorker

Nothing is omitted in this ambitious novel depicting the turbulent lives of several aid workers at the height of the Sudanese civil war. Caputo, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the author of a Vietnam memoir, includes more characters, plot lines, and big ideas than a single mind can track, but he writes so authoritatively that it doesn’t matter. In the course of nearly seven hundred pages, he encompasses military offensives, the slave trade, arms-running operations, passionate romances, religious conversions, childhood memories, and rampant corruption, in a portrait of a place where “God and the Devil are one and the same.” Caputo lays the groundwork of the novel carefully, introducing his disparate cast of characters; then, as the various plot lines come together, the book picks up speed. Caputo may have set out to write an epic parable about the dangers of uncritical belief, but he ended up with, quite simply, a great story.

Acts of Faith should be required reading. . . . Caputo’s best novel yet.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Philip Caputo’s Sudan is a place drawn so real, dust and despair fall from the pages. . . . So beautiful, so awful, so authentic, so wonderful, so hopeless, it grieves the heart.” —The Miami Herald

“Destined to be a generation-defining book.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“A miracle. . . . You can hardly conceive of a more affecting reading experience.” —Houston Chronicle

“Caputo, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter turned novelist, writes with astonishing authority, launching several complex plot lines and an enormous, vibrant cast of characters — aid workers, soldiers, militants, mercenaries, missionaries and corrupt officials. The plot threads join in a propulsive, satisfying finish, inevitably inching demon and deity ever closer together.” —Michael Ollove, The Baltimore Sun

“Philip Caputo, from Vietnam onwards, has understood the hardest truths of the modern world better than almost anybody. Acts of Faith is a stunningly unflinching novel. On the surface it is set in Africa, but in fact its true landscape is the ravaged soul of the twenty-first century. Philip Caputo is one of the few absolutely essential writers at work today.” —Robert Olen Butler

“In Acts of Faith Philip Caputo has fashioned a gripping cast of characters and placed them in a spellbinding story. You can’t get any better than that.” —Winston Groom

“Caputo’s ambitious adventure novel, set against a backdrop of the Sudanese wars, makes for a dense, riveting update on Graham Greene’s The Quiet American . . . Caputo presents a sharply observed, sweeping portrait, capturing the incestuous world of the aid groups, Sudan’s multiethnic mix, and the decayed milieu of Kenyan society.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Acts of Faith offers an image of Africa deserving comparison with Conrad, Hemingway, Peter Matthiessen, and Jan de Hartog’s forgotten near-masterpiece The Spiral Road.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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Acts of Faith

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Comments (11)

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  1. Scott McDonald says:

    Acts of Faith astonished me. Terrific epic story. I did a lot of blue-collar bush-type flying, forest fire suppression and Alaska/Caribbean/south of the border in worn-out planes. The flying in the book is accurate and well-written. How on earth did you learn so much about the world of hardscrabble busted knuckle aviation? I enjoyed the depiction of NGO work, and being a native Arizonan the background of that character was especially interesting to me. I retired early from United Airlines and have gone back into firefighting in old prop planes (DC-7). Last spring I flew a Lockheed Constellation, formerly Air Force One, out of Marana to its new home in the Shenandoah valley. Very much looking forward to “Some Rise By Sin”! Next time I’m south of Tucson I’d love to say hello.

  2. John Cooper says:

    Loved the book. Douglas and the Braithwaites of “The Voyage” had me searching online for commentary about your novels interconnecting with each other.

  3. Joan Krebs says:

    Phil, I’m glad beyond words that the movie industry has once again taken a look at this book, which I – also – consider to be your best work (other than any that may evolve from your look at “Death and the Cosmos” I have a lot of thoughts about that one….). Being in my 86th year and devolving into poor health, I don’t expect to see the coming out of ACTS OF FAITH as movie but I sure would like to know that it will happen. I hope you keep us posted as to this possibility.

    • Thanks for your good thoughts. I’m sorry to hear about your declining health. Though I’m presently in good health, I am 74, and not entirely sure I’ll see it as a movie. Take care of yourself.

      Best Regards, Phil.

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  5. Laurie Lemson says:

    Thank you for writing this book and adding to my understanding of a people and of situations I could never experience otherwise. I read it long ago and find myself still thinking about the people I met in the novel,wondering how they’re doing, as if their lives have continued even after you left them. I learn so much about life through good literature and I am immensely grateful to people like yourself who give me the opportunity to venture into a life I would otherwise not know.r

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