counter create hit Means Of Escape: A War Correspondent's Memoir of Life and Death in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Vietnam - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

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

Availability: Ready to download

This wonderful memoir: "Means of Escape" by Philip Caputo is a war correspondent's memoir of life and death in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Vietnam. The author, Phillip Caputo has been a witness to the most important struggles of out time, from the hot green hell of Vietnam to the dusty mountains of Afghanistan to the bloodstained streets of Beirut.


Compare
Ads Banner

This wonderful memoir: "Means of Escape" by Philip Caputo is a war correspondent's memoir of life and death in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Vietnam. The author, Phillip Caputo has been a witness to the most important struggles of out time, from the hot green hell of Vietnam to the dusty mountains of Afghanistan to the bloodstained streets of Beirut.

30 review for Means Of Escape: A War Correspondent's Memoir of Life and Death in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Vietnam

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    FROM VIETNAM TO BEIRUT: FORGET AT YOUR OWN RISK I read Means of Escape more than 20 years ago when it first came out and I just read it again. I loved it even more this time around. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Caputo is one of America's great writers. He is also a man that has experienced wars in a way most never will and his powerful images will stay with you long after you put this book down. His great Vietnam war classic, A Rumor of War, was born in bloody combat in the terrifying t FROM VIETNAM TO BEIRUT: FORGET AT YOUR OWN RISK I read Means of Escape more than 20 years ago when it first came out and I just read it again. I loved it even more this time around. There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Caputo is one of America's great writers. He is also a man that has experienced wars in a way most never will and his powerful images will stay with you long after you put this book down. His great Vietnam war classic, A Rumor of War, was born in bloody combat in the terrifying triple canopy jungles of Vietnam. He was a Marine Corps officer that was born with a gift from God. He experienced war and then he could write the most searing, emotionally charged accounts of what he witnessed and lived through. I worked in Vietnam during the war as a civilian woman just off a big anti-war American University campus. I arrived there thinking I knew everything, as the young are prone to do. I soon found out in Da Nang that I knew nothing of life at all. I did not experience the war in Vietnam first hand like Lt. Caputo did, but part of my job was listening to all those young Grunts just in from the bush every day. I visited 95th Evac and looked into the faces of 19 year old boys that would never be the same. I hopped on the "illegal"(for civilian girls), but "winked at" chopper trips to Fire Support bases all over I Corps. I listened to all those young men and I saw them coming in from, and going out into a jungled tree line. Lt. Caputo was with them. They suffered together. He led them in battle and watched them fight and die. His anger sometimes boiled over. So did mine. His writing about Nam still brings me to tears after lo, these many years. My God! It is like I know him so well even though I never met him! His writing is that good. He and I have traveled some of the same roads in life. I can identify with his writing in a very personal way. Lt. Caputo became a foreign correspondent and ended up covering the war in Beirut. I married my college boyfriend, a Lebanese, and was in and out of Lebanon during the civil war there that Mr. Caputo covered for the Chicago Tribune. (It is hard for me to call him Mister. I prefer L-T, what his troops must have called him.) I understand completely his "Means of Escape" and his vivid descriptions of his Chicago childhood and his need to "escape" it all and see the world. Maybe we have all felt that way when we were young. I certainly did. Everyone, even today's generation, will recognize his old restless feelings in themselves. It is how he wrote about these feelings and what he did about them that captures us all, even today. Some things, it seems, are universal. Some people, like the L-T, go all the way to the other side of the world. He was stationed in Rome and covered the Middle East for the Chicago Trib a year or so after he left Vietnam alive. He writes..."So after Christmas 1972 I went to the Middle East, which was interesting because hate and conflict are always interesting. The Middle East--so mired in history no one knew how to pull it out."... He filed his reports but he was a wanderer at heart. I understand this too. He soon writes..."The Israelis were Here, but the Arabs were There, and the most There of them all were the bedouin. In April of that year, I went into the Sinai to find them. The Sinai, jabbing like a spearhead between the Great Arabian desert of Egypt and the Negev of Israel, the waste-howling wilderness where the biblical Hebrews wandered and Moses received the Ten Commandments. The pharaoh's chariots had crossed it to the Battle of Megiddo (we call it Armageddon), and Nasser's tanks had crossed it in 1967, intending to sweep the Jews out of Palestine." He travels by camel caravan with the bedouin into the Sinai..."And I looked around, at the mountains, the date palm, the kneeling camels, the blankets and saddles arrayed around the fire, and felt the same contentment, a peace that settled into my marrow. I have always loved the lonely, wild places of the earth, what's left of them, and it was good to be in one with a few trusted friends, a fire burning, and a whole day's ride and new country to look forward to in the morning. And this too; I had come out to the desert to reconnect myself to the authentic and the essential, to stay in touch with the only good thing I had brought out of Vietnam: the knowledge that life and death were all that mattered." A few days later he was back in Jerusalem when a telex arrived. Proceed to Beirut immediately...heavy fighting..etc. etc. A few hours later his plane was coming into Beirut airport..."Shellfire. Flares. Tracers. Welcome back, pilgrim, to the twentieth century." And soon he was gathered around the bar of the St. George's hotel in Beirut with the rest of the cynical press corps, trading stories about the fighting between the army and the Palestinian guerrillas. Some of the press had been in Vietnam too, but not as young men fighting in the jungles..."Let my competitors drink and tell war stories. I was going to beat them all. Go as far as I could and as fast as I could. I didn't know that you could go too far too fast, but I was about to become educated." Ah yes, wouldn't you know...pride goeth before a fall. And what a hell of a fall it was! "Bursts of automatic rifle fire came from the camps, three or four miles away, and spent tracer rounds floated lazily into the dark night sky, like embers from a fire." He hired a driver to take him up close to the action. The driver got lost and soon a rifle was pointed at his head. He was now a prisoner of the Palestinian fedayeen right up at their front lines. The L-T is an American in a very wrong place at a very wrong time. They might very well kill him just because he is American. You never know. Ahlan Wa Sahlan, LT, Welcome! Welcome to Lebanon! Skinny young fighters with long hair and AK-47's led him away into the maze of narrow passageways...."A muzzle flash from the mound, a burst of machine-gun fire, bullets cracking into the front of the wall. "Get down and run!" someone shouted in English, and we were all bent over, running. The guerrillas stopped and let loose over the wall, a dozen AK's on full automatic, rock and roll, and the Lebanese army troops answered with mortars and armored-car guns, shells whooping overhead, crashing into buildings less than a hundred yards away. Children started to wail, women were screaming." The guerrillas took them away from the battle and the interrogations began. "Who are you and what are you doing here?" They searched him and found two Israeli business cards he had forgotten in his wallet and he knew this alone was enough to get him killed as a "Zionist spy." He and the driver were taken to an abandoned apartment building to their jail where they would be held for days under very dangerous, dire conditions. They could hear the war going on outside and planes bombed nearby. Their building swayed in a rocket attack as the driver cried out..."Allah deliver us," then people screaming in the street, deep animal screams of pain that drowned out even the roar of the jets as they flew off. I crawled out from the cupboard and looked down at a lump of bloody matter that might have once been a human being (high explosive tends to transform all living creatures into generic tissue)." The driver realized they were captives of the PDFLP ( the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and he cried as he told him he thought they were going to be shot. Caputo was taken away for more interrogation by a blue eyed man that spoke perfect English. It went on a long time and then he was taken back to his jail. Sounds of war, screaming and crying, thrown in a rat hole..."go ahead and shoot me. C'mon do it, I want you to!"...saying the rosary and reciting the 23rd Psalm surrounded by rats in a dark Beirut cellar...blindfolded and led back to the blue eyed interrogator...and then he asked him if he wanted to shave...and he was taken out and released. It had been days. Days of hell. He went home to his family in Rome. He had survived another one. And then in October, 1973 his newspaper sent him to cover the Yom Kippur war in Israel where he ended up with a group of journalists on the front lines down in the Sinai at the Suez Canal. The Egyptian Army was dug in on the other side. They were the first journalists to see the Canal since the Egyptians had stormed it two weeks earlier. Back in Rome, he decided it was time to drive down to Calabria and look up his relatives. His grandparents came from Italy and he had heard about The Old Country all his life. The descriptions of the Italian countryside are lovely and his reunion with his long lost relatives is touching. They are emotional, passionate people that know how to eat! There is also un scandalo--a scandal in the family that I got a kick out of. This passage to Calabria is a nice vacation between wars, nice for Signore Caputo and for the reader also. Time to relax with La Familigia and eat some really good Italian food in the beautiful and historic old south of Italy. Molto Bene. La vita e dolce. (I knew my one year of Italian at University would come in handy one day!) In 1975 Mr. Caputo was back in Lebanon covering the civil war there. Life was as good as it can get in a crazy place like Lebanon. Sometimes that can be very good indeed, other times it can be hell on earth. All you can do is keep your head down and hope for the best. In the spring of 1975 news came from the other side of the world, from Vietnam, that Hue and Da Nang had fallen and the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese army were closing in on Saigon. The end was nigh and Lt. Caputo was compelled to return to the land he fought in as a young man. He wasn't sure himself why he was really going back. He was a writer and a journalist, a married man and a father now. He had "still not gotten over the war; it remained an open emotional circuit. Vietnam, both as historical event and as personal experience, lacked closure. Now the event was moving toward completion, and if I were there to witness it, perhaps the circle would be closed within myself." As his plane flew towards Saigon in the dark night he remembered his youth back home in the Chicago suburbs. He was 13 when he and his friends talked about their dreams of seeing Africa and the world as they sat at a suburban Chicago bus stop one balmy night. They talked about reading The Green Hills of Africa and Beyond the Horizon and all his restless, youthful dreams were ignited. He must have known even then that he needed a "means of escape" from the mundane, average world he and most of the world inhabited. He found it, oh yes he did. "But why, I wondered as the skies over Burma brightened, had I ended up in so many ugly places, on battlefields and the terrorists's killing fields, if all I'd wanted in my youth was to find the secret and beauty beyond the horizon?".... The plane landed in Saigon after a 16 hour flight and the LT knew in his bones he was back in the Nam...."First the rice paddies and the villages peeking from behind bamboo and palm, like guerrillas in ambush. Then the endless acres of refugee slums, shacks nailed together out of America'x trash, walls of flattened beer cans...the women in conical hats jouncing under shoulder poles. The stilt huts alongside canals black as tar, plague and malaria in the air....the gangs of drivers lurked at the corners on their pedal-driven rickshaws, each hissing to every foreigner that he knew a girl numbah one virgin no VD no s*** very cheap. A man with twisted arms and legs crawled on his belly. No one paid the least attention to him, inching along like a crippled crab. Saigon was the same as ever, an old harlot of a city, disgusting and sad." They pulled up at the infamous Continental Palace..."oozing mildewed colonial splendor." It was full of journalists once again. When the LT got to his room the memories came flooding back. He remembered..."the sight of the evil green hills around Da Nang falling away from me the day I left Vietnam, July 12, 1966. I had never felt so relieved to see anything in my life; those awful hills with their snipers and ambushes and booby traps, their dripping forests and sawtoothed elephant grass, falling away. I had promised myself never to return, but now I had and wondered how I felt about it. Not about how I was supposed to feel, not about the manufactured, boilerplate emotions that were the journalist's stock in trade, but how I truly felt. That was when the ghost sergeant began to call the ghostly roll in my head. Fernandez. Gauthier. Guzman. Levy. Lockhart. Manning. Page. Reasoner. Simpson. Sissler. Snow. Sullivan. Warner. West. All present and accounted for, sir. All dead, and, if the North Vietnamese won, dead for nothing. I guessed I felt angry about that, sold out, betrayed, though by whom I could not say. The Congress? General Westmoreland? Jane Fonda? All of the above? The LT was sent back to cover the fall of Vietnam. It was his job to cover the military story. "I was to be the paper's bang-bang correspondent." And so he did, although his first story was about the plane that crashed carrying Vietnamese orphans. "Impossible to look at those small bodies, burnt and dismembered in the paddy mud, and not go numb."....He went out from Saigon and covered the fighting and retreat of the South Vietnamese army. There was death and bloodshed and panic as mortars and rockets slammed into the crowds, there were thousands of refugees and defeated soldiers fleeing towards Saigon and bodies without faces. A naked leg laying by itself, all alone, in the middle of a dusty road. The wind and the torrential rain. Heat lightening flashed over the iconic city and the heavens opened up as if to say the end is near. He heard "the drumming of heavy machine guns and the sharp, distinctive cracks of tank cannon." And that last day they waited for Bing Crosby to sing White Christmas on the radio.The signal to evacuate. It was over. Time to go. There was chaos and panic in the streets. The army of North Vietnam was at the doorstep. Crowds and riots outside the US Embassy. The airport was shelled as they ran crouched over to the giant Marine Sea Stallions. "the crew chief closed the hatch. I could see nothing outside.The chopper gathered itself, then leapt into the air. I worked my way forward....by the time I got to the door, the squadron was at seven or eight thousand feet. Below, columns of smoke rolled up from everywhere, from the rubber plantations, the Delta marshes, the paddy lands slashed by brown canals and slow khaki rivers....I state for the historical record that we crossed the coast at 4:17 P.M. (the time is in my notes)....A familiar electricity circuited through me; I had made another escape. Good night, Saigon." Adios, Saigon. They circled and finally landed on the deck of the USS Denver. It was the end of an era. He went out on the deck and "about five miles off, a flotilla of fishing junks was sailing toward the fleet: the first boat people. Beyond the junks, the coast shimmered, a strand of white fringed green. I guessed my youth was there, too, and always would be. Kipling said it long ago: We have but one virginity to lose, and where we lose it, there our hearts will always be." He headed back to the Middle East and war and terrorism. He says it wasn't a war when he got back to Beirut from Saigon, "it was fighting." He describes the insanity so beautifully and the Lebanese so well that this book should be required reading for all of them. "So far as I know, Lebanon is the only country in modern history to have committed suicide." The fighting got worse and the embassy warned them all to stay inside, but of course the LT had to "do his job" and go get the story! What did you expect? He decided to walk over to the Reuter's office a short distance from his and he saw himself..."walking down those deserted streets flooded in amber light, I feel the presence of a threat more metaphysical than physical, a sense not of danger but of evil. It is as if something invisible yet real is dogging my every step: the Beast, the everlasting Beast in man. About a dozen of its Children were standing around the building's front entrance. They wore no armbands to distinguish which militia they belonged to. They did not have to; one look at them was enough to tell me they were Mourabitoun....Where are you going, who are you? He had shark's eyes (no spark of divinity there, no light at all) and a smile immediately recognizable....it was the smile of someone incapable of perceiving another human being's pain." Caputo told him he is Sahafi--press--and when he came out later there were more of them there..."and the molecules of their brains had rearranged themselves, for reasons I could never know, possibly for no reason at all, into a configuration of pure hate. The air itself was different. There was murder in it. All the currents of evil in that one city seemed to have converged at that one point...and I was in Azazel's kingdom." He was stopped and showed one his press card. "Sahafi Amerikai he said then spat at my shoe. Maybe I cut your throat." They pushed him down a street. He started walking. "Running would only excite the Beast." Then a sniper the Mourabitoun (the Looney Tunes they were called) surely knew was there, fired at Caputo. He began to run as the sniper shot at him. The Looney Tunes guy was running after him, firing on full automatic from the hip. The LT was hit by a fragment of the wall and slumped to the pavement and blacked out. When he came to a moment later another one was firing at him. He ran zig zag as he was trained to do by the Marines. He felt a terrible impact in his left ankle. He was hit. God was with him because a vascular surgeon lived in that building and he saved him. Because of the fighting he couldn't get to the American University Hospital so he ended up at the Trad, a battlefield station in the Christian quarter. The hospital was being shelled as he got through to his friend on the phone...get my wife and the kids out of Beirut NOW he quickly told him. They had no anesthesia left, just a local and that is how the doctor operated on him. He finished A Rumor of War during his long convalescence back in the States. In 1979, five months after the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the LT couldn't stop himself. He was a civilian again, settled with his wife and kids in Key West and had finished his novel, Horn of Africa. He probably needed another "means of escape" about then, so he accepted an offer from Esquire magazine to cover the war in Afghanistan. His wife was not pleased. He had secret reservations but he went anyway. He flew to Peshawar on the Pakistani-Afghan border where he saw a camel caravan with heavily armed, black bearded men "wearing crossed leather bandoliers jeweled with cartridges...a worm of excitement wriggled in my chest." He soon ended up trekking into the rugged mountains of Afghanistan with the Mujahadeen. Finally, "the man on the frontier of middle age" discovered that "Afghanistan ended my years of living dangerously." He writes.."I got sick of it, which, possibly was the state I sought all along; the romantic's appetite for extreme experiences is often a disguised longing for the opposite, a hunger he kills by feeding it to excess so he can, at last, find peace in a room." Means of Escape was written just for me, that I know for sure. I don't know for sure about you, but you should find out. It will take you places you have never been and describe things so beautifully they will stay with you long after you put this book down. It is one of my favorites. If you think it is old news, those days are over, think again. From Vietnam to Beirut: Forget at Your Own Risk, for history has a way of repeating itself.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Brian Page

    His guiding principle seems to have always been, “Go as far as you can as fast as you can.” When applied to war zones, that principle often led to danger. Philip Caputo is, of course, a fine writer. To me, what stands out in MEANS OF ESCAPE is the level of introspection he injects into his accounts of war reporting from Vietnam, the Middle East, and Afghanistan. Particularly meaningful is his account of the fighting in Lebanon; and how accurately he unknowingly predicts the turmoil that has come His guiding principle seems to have always been, “Go as far as you can as fast as you can.” When applied to war zones, that principle often led to danger. Philip Caputo is, of course, a fine writer. To me, what stands out in MEANS OF ESCAPE is the level of introspection he injects into his accounts of war reporting from Vietnam, the Middle East, and Afghanistan. Particularly meaningful is his account of the fighting in Lebanon; and how accurately he unknowingly predicts the turmoil that has come to pass since MoE’s publication in 1991. This book is well worth reading for, as Caputo writes in the 2008 preface to my copy, “In retrospect, I feel that my colleagues and I witnessed the birth of our modern Age of Terror.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    Caputo's a terrific storyteller. His insights about the events of our times are illuminating and deeply personal. The ending, with Caputo watching wildlife outside his window, feels sad, as if the passion -- one of his most compelling qualities -- has finally broken him. But the updated foreword hints, I think, that the passion was rekindled, if on a slightly more sensible scale. I hope he's happy. Really.

  4. 4 out of 5

    John Benson

    This is a memoir of Philip Caputo's years as a war correspondent. Both his memoirs, RUMORS OF WAR and this one, are exceptional. As I have read a mix of his fiction and non-fiction, it is interesting to see how different parts of his life inform his fiction. What Philip Caputo is especially good at is helping you understand the whole external setting for different things that have happened to him, like when he is kidnapped in Beirut, and his internal emotions while going through the events. He i This is a memoir of Philip Caputo's years as a war correspondent. Both his memoirs, RUMORS OF WAR and this one, are exceptional. As I have read a mix of his fiction and non-fiction, it is interesting to see how different parts of his life inform his fiction. What Philip Caputo is especially good at is helping you understand the whole external setting for different things that have happened to him, like when he is kidnapped in Beirut, and his internal emotions while going through the events. He is extremely good at combining both the internal workings of his mind and the external events to give a full picture of his life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    The Book Grocer

    Purchase Means of Escape here for just $7! Another superb book by Philp Caputo. It chronicles his experiences as a foreign/war correspondent in some exciting times (fall of Saigon, Yom Kippur War, etc). Made even more thrilling when to my delight, my neighbour, Tony Clifton, working for Newsweek at the time, got a mention! A really terrific book that will have you hanging onto every word. Alicia - The Book Grocer Purchase Means of Escape here for just $7! Another superb book by Philp Caputo. It chronicles his experiences as a foreign/war correspondent in some exciting times (fall of Saigon, Yom Kippur War, etc). Made even more thrilling when to my delight, my neighbour, Tony Clifton, working for Newsweek at the time, got a mention! A really terrific book that will have you hanging onto every word. Alicia - The Book Grocer

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Caputo discusses his time as a war correspondent during the 1970s. He throws in a chapter about his childhood dream to be an astronaut and a chapter about going to Italy to discover his roots. The two best chapters were the one about the fall of Saigon and the one about the Lebanese civil war. I found both stories to be terribly sad. The suffering that some people go through can even be too much to bear for those of us who just care about others. I can't imagine what it was like for those poor p Caputo discusses his time as a war correspondent during the 1970s. He throws in a chapter about his childhood dream to be an astronaut and a chapter about going to Italy to discover his roots. The two best chapters were the one about the fall of Saigon and the one about the Lebanese civil war. I found both stories to be terribly sad. The suffering that some people go through can even be too much to bear for those of us who just care about others. I can't imagine what it was like for those poor people.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robert Marshall

    Author Caputo has written a great auto-biography. This book “Does mean a thing”, and should be required reading at the high school level. As with all professionals the prose is immaculate, and should be honored as much as the amazing detail of his travels, trials, and tribulations.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Shrubb

    I thought this was a very fine book indeed. Full of awful things, but also full of intelligence, compassion, thoughtfulness and, most crucially, honesty. Something I immediately wanted all the people I care about to read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    I love all of Caputo's books. He has seen the best of the best and the worst of the worst and has retained his humanity.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dirk

    I've been a fan of Caputo's ever since A Rumor of War. This one won't dissapoint.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marc Oliver

    Funny....

  12. 5 out of 5

    J.

    a little full of himself

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  14. 4 out of 5

    Helen Ameen

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Dominique Atherton

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stan Bunch

  18. 4 out of 5

    Evan Vucci

  19. 4 out of 5

    Teressa

  20. 4 out of 5

    Steven

  21. 4 out of 5

    Klom

  22. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Bazzett

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ila

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gabriel

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Downie

  26. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  27. 4 out of 5

    Harry

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bookcase Jim

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Warren

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.