Caleb Carr was born in New York City in 1955, attending primary and secondary school in the city (St. Luke's School, Friends Seminary). He attended Kenyon College and New York University, earning a degree in military and diplomatic history.
On leaving university in 1977, Mr. Carr went to work at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, as first a researcher and then a special editorial assistant for Foreign Affairs Quarterly. In 1980 his first novel was published. During the 1980's Mr. Carr worked extensively in screenplay development for various film production companies, as well as in the theater, directing both repertory works and productions of his own plays.

Also during the 1980's, Mr. Carr covered Central America as a freelance journalist, producing numerous articles for publications such as
The New York Times. This work eventually resulted, in 1988, in the publication of his second book, American Invulnerable: The Quest for Absolute Security from 1812 to Star Wars, a history of American national security policy that was co-authored by James Chace. In 1989 Mr. Carr began work on The Devil Soldier, a biography of the 19th century American mercenary Frederick Townsend Ward (as well as 19th century military history generally) that was published in 1991 by Random House. Also in 1989, Mr. Carr joined the founding staff of MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History as a contributing editor, a position he still holds.

In 1992 Mr. Carr began work on
The Alienist, a novel set in turn-of-the-century New York that reflected his deep interest in the origins and history of criminal psychology. Published in 1994, the book spent six months on The New York Times bestseller list and earned significant critical acclaim. At the same time, Mr. Carr was writing scripts for various film and television studios, and continued to publish regularly on military and political affairs. At the same time, he continued to work in the film industry, writing both original scripts and working as a "script doctor" for nearly every major studio. He served as writer and director on a major science ficiton film for Paramount Studios, and upon returning to New York City, began work as librettist with composer Ezequiel Viñao on their operatic project, Merlin, a reinterpretation of the Arthurian legends. In 1996, Mr. Carr began work on The Angel of Darkness, his sequel to The Alienist. Published in the fall of 1997, the book quickly outsold its predecessor, and earned even greater critical praise.

In 1999, Mr. Carr undertook a novel written in serial form for
Time magazine, subsequently published, in 2000, as Killing Time, also a national bestseller. But following the events of September 11th, 2001, he returned to full-time non-fiction writing, eventually authoring The Lessons of Terror: A History of Warfare Against Civilians (Random House). By anticipating several key debates -on reorganization of America's intelligence resources, preemptory war against terrorist sponsors, and the treatment of terrorists as soldiers rather than criminals- the book became the focus of a heated controversy.

Since then, Mr. Carr has continued his writings on political and military affairs, as well as criminal psychology, for such publications as
The New York Times, Time, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and others. His books, fiction and non-fiction, have been published in well over a dozen languages. He currently teaches military studies at Bard College, and is continuing work on several creative projects, including a new "Alienist" volume and the Ezequiel Viñao opera, Merlin.