Philip Caputo was raised in the Chicago suburbs. After college, he served with the Marines for three years, including sixteen months in Vietnam, and then spent six years as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune in Italy, the Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Vietnam. He was held hostage in Beirut in 1973, and upon his release, learned of his shared 1972 Pulitzer Prize for reporting on election fraud in Chicago. Two years later, he was wounded in Beirut, and, during his convalescence, completed the manuscript for A Rumor of War, a Vietnam memoir that was published while Caputo was in Moscow, back on assignment for the Tribune. In 1977, he left the Tribune and turned to novels, of which he has written four, as well as another memoir (Means of Escape) and a collection of three novellas, Exiles. He currently lives in Norwalk, Connecticut with his wife, Leslie Blanchard Ware.
Caputo attributes the planting of the seed for plot of The Voyage to his late father-in-law, John Ware, who passed on an intriguing tale he'd heard from a cousin about their grandfather. According to the tale, William Mimms Ware had put his four sons on a schooner called Holly in 1899 and, giving them each ten dollars, told them not to return until September. They were shipwrecked in Havana in August and sent a telegram to their father asking for money for the passage home--which, unlike Cyrus, he provided. Caputo stresses that the story of the Wares merely raised interesting questions leading to the imagined tale that is The Voyage; the Braithwaites' story is not at all intended to be a fictionalized history of the story of the Wares' adventure. Besides drawing upon his own experience as a deep-sea fisherman, Caputo conducted extensive research to prepare for the writing of The Voyage--including reading, interviewing sailors and yachtsmen, and chartering his own yacht from the Caribbean to Newport, Rhode Island.