Means of Escape

“[Here] are some fine tales . . .  and Mr. Caputo has a fine voice for telling them.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A riveting memoir of years of living dangerously.”—Kirkus Reviews

Means of Escape by Philip CaputoFor the countless readers who have admired Philip Caputo’s classic memoir of Vietnam, A Rumor of War, here is his powerful recounting of his life and adventures, updated with a foreword that assesses the state of the world and the journalist’s art.

As a journalist, Caputo has covered many of the world’s troubles, and in Means of Escape, he tells the reader in moving and clear-eyed prose how he made himself into a writer, traveler, and observer with the nerve to put himself at the center of the world’s conflicts. As a young reporter he investigated the Mafia in Chicago, earning acclaim as well as threats against his safety. Later, he rode camels through the desert and enjoyed Bedouin hospitality, was kidnapped and held captive by Islamic extremists, and was targeted and hit by sniper fire in Beirut, with memories of Vietnam never far from the surface. And after it all, he went into Afghanistan. Caputo’s goal has always been to bear witness to the crimes, ambitions, fears, ferocities, and hopes of humanity. With Means of Escape, he has done so.


From Library Journal

“This is, make no mistake about it, a startlingly honest and brutal book. It deals with the age-old folly of war and its strange companion, the love of war, which is a siren call to newsmen like Caputo who must report on war. Even after he was wounded in the senseless fighting in Beirut, even after he had escaped death in the fall of Saigon, even after he had gained a measure of fame and fortune with his bestselling A Rumor of War, Caputo found himself drawn again to the terrors of war in Afghanistan, where tribesmen fought Russian high-tech gunships with Victorian-era Enfield rifles. At one point he concludes: “The last good war had been the one between Michael and Lucifer, and that only because angels and devils do not bleed.” The writing is suberb. Highly recommended for all.”

From Kirkus Reviews

“An intensely personal, albeit consistently affecting and frequently riveting memoir of years of living dangerously. Caputo (A Rumor of War, Indian Country, etc.) has witnessed much of the worst violence that marked the latter half of the 20th century. A combat veteran of Vietnam, he went on to cover trouble spots throughout the Third World as a roving correspondent for The Chicago Tribune. Describing himself as drawn to history (if not to the sound of the guns), the globe-trotting author has reported on insurgency in Eritrea, civil strife in Lebanon, Israel’s October War, the fall of Saigon, and a host of lesser belligerencies. Looking for a ‘good war’ several years after having quit the journalism trade, Caputo accepted an assignment from Esquire that took him deep behind Soviet lines in Afghanistan. Venturesome to the point of rashness, he has paid the price of boldness on many occasions. Though he made it through Vietnam without a physical scratch, for example, the author was imprisoned by Palestinian guerrillas in Beirut and later sustained severe wounds (at the hands of Muslim militia) in the same city, leaving him with a still-painful limp. Peacefully settled in one place now, he’s content to let a workroom window overlooking a salt marsh on the Long Island Sound serve as his new means of escape. Caputo nonetheless looks back on his days as a rolling stone with some relish and few apparent regrets. Indeed, he retains a rueful sense of barracks humor neatly summarized in an ultrarude anecdote whose moral is: ‘the final indignity is that there is no final indignity.’ An episodic, impressionistic, and dead-honest narrative that affords memorable as well as consequential insights into a chaotic era’s noteworthy conflicts.”

Buy the book

Means of Escape: A War Correspondent’s Memoir of Life and Death in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Vietnam 

Back to more Phil Caputo memoirs »

Comments (4)

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  1. I was not able to find an audio ebook or CD version of Means of Escape.

  2. There has been a lot of discussion on the Facebook site Anyone who ever lived in Westchester about your many references to Westchester, DI and Sister Joan Clare in The Longest Road which I listened to on CDs in the car. I understand that there is an entire chapter on your life in Westchester in Means of Escape. Will you put that book on CDs or other electronic device? We are all looking forward to your appearance next year in this area! Continued good luck in your career!

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