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Acts of Faith


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About the Author

Philip Caputo worked for nine years for the Chicago Tribune and shared a Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for his reporting on election fraud in Chicago. He is the author of six other works of fiction and two memoirs, including A Rumor of War, about his service in Vietnam. He divides his time between Connecticut and Arizona.


After reading this novel, one wonders what was behind the peace accord recently signed between the Sudanese government (predominantly Muslim) and rebels in the country's south (predominantly dark-skinned and Christian or animist). Caputo (A Rumor of War) has provided a lively and convincing fictional backdrop to this war, with its tribal rivalries, economic undercurrents, and personal triumphs and betrayals. Set several years ago, the book presents multiple stories, including that of an American named Douglas Braithwaite, who establishes a flight service to deliver aid to Sudan's Nuba mountain region. With the best of motives, he and his biracial Kenyan partner, Fitzhugh Martin, become involved in gunrunning. Meanwhile, with born-again fervor, a young woman named Quinette arrives from the Midwest to help ransom captives from the war who have been sold into slavery and eventually ends up marrying a rebel commander. Other unlikely romantic attachments develop, reflecting the war-torn area's emotional upheaval. Finally, Douglas becomes entangled in a dangerous web of deceit even as Arab raiders from northern Sudan mass for one final and murderous descent into the Nuba region. Caputo handles the scorching tragedy of this conflict in an objective and somewhat journalistic manner; the result, while not exactly a page-turner, is a compassionate and dramatic novel recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/05.]-Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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. The American in this case is Douglas Braithwaite, a "mercenary with a conscience" who founds Knight Air, a charter airline that conveys relief supplies from NGOs to war-torn southern Sudan. Braithwaite launches his service by flying aid to the Nuba, a region in the northern Sudanese sphere of influence that is a no-go zone for U.N.-sponsored airlines. He hires Fitzhugh Martin, a former soccer star and mixed-race Kenyan from the Seychelles Islands, as his operations manager, and soon teams up with Texan bush pilot Wes Dare as well as a shady Somali financier. From Fitzhugh's perspective, we see corruption ensue from Douglas's decision to expand his air service-crushing his competitor, Tara Whitcomb, in the process-and to smuggle arms to Michael Goraende, the Nuban militia head. Douglas's support for the Nuban commander also brings Quinette Hardin, a Christian aid worker from Iowa who marries Goreande, into Knight Air's orbit. 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. Though this long atmospheric novel offers a very slow build and doesn't always avoid formula, the understated climax that leads to Knight Air's demise is powerful in its impact. Agent, Aaron Priest. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"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 "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) "Philip Caputo is a splendid, muscular story teller who possesses the crucial power to make endearing ordinary men from diverse fragilities and stubborness." --Gloria Emerson, Los Angeles Times "For the past twenty years, Caputo has written parables of hubris upbraided, populated by outsiders whose defects lead them into trouble as unerringly as does fate." --David Haward Bain, New York Times Book Review "Caputo lets no one and nothing off the hook." --Richard Bausch, Washington Post Book World

"Caputo takes on most of the hot-button issues of our time-racism, random violence, disempowerment, the decay of social fabric, even the nature of evil itself-and more than lives to tell the tale." --Roget L. Simon, Los Angeles Times

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