MEANS OF ESCAPE by Philip Caputo


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 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 Christian 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.

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1991
ISBN: 0-06-018312-8
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991


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