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News of the World: A Novel

News of the World: A Novel

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News of the World: A Novel

4/5 (302 ratings)
258 pages
4 hours
Oct 4, 2016


Written by Scribd Editors

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through Texas after the Civil War, offering live readings from newspapers to paying audiences to share with them the latest news. A widower and a veteran of two wars, Kidd finds peace in his solitary life.

While in Wichita Falls, a Kiowa tribe offers him a $50 gold piece to reunite a 10-year-old girl with her family in San Antonio. Years ago, a group of Kiowa raiders killed her parents and sister, but they spared her life and raised her. Now, her life is upended a second time as she is sent to her aunt and uncle.

Kidd takes the offer, and he and the girl form an unlikely bond on their 400-mile journey. When they reach the girl’s family, things are not as they’d hoped. She no longer remembers them, and they regard her as a burden. Now, Kidd must ask himself which is the moral choice: leaving the girl with an unloving family or taking her with him and becoming a kidnapper himself.

News of the World: A Novel by Paulette Jiles is a Nation Book Award Finalist in Fiction and has been adapted into a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks.

Oct 4, 2016

About the author

Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.

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Top quotes

  • He must not be incapacitated, he must not be killed because he knew very well what they would do with the girl. Some people were born unsupplied with a human conscience and those people needed killing.

  • Loss of reputation and the regard of our fellow persons is in any society, from Iceland to East Indies, a terrible blow to the spirit. It is worse than being penniless and more cutting than the blades of enemies.

  • Life was not safe and nothing could make it so, neither fashionable dresses nor bank accounts. The baseline of human life was courage.

  • Because there would be a fistfight here within moments, if not shooting. Men have lost the ability to discuss any political event in Texas in a reasonable manner. There is no debate, only force. In point of fact, regard the soldiers beyond the door.

  • He bent his head and regarded her with concern and some tenderness. It seemed his small warrior burst so easily into tears from time to time and was soon afterward bright with energy and laughter. So it was with children. May she always be so.

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News of the World - Paulette Jiles



Wichita Falls, Texas, Winter 1870

CAPTAIN KIDD LAID out the Boston Morning Journal on the lectern and began to read from the article on the Fifteenth Amendment. He had been born in 1798 and the third war of his lifetime had ended five years ago and he hoped never to see another but now the news of the world aged him more than time itself. Still he stayed his rounds, even during the cold spring rains. He had been at one time a printer but the war had taken his press and everything else, the economy of the Confederacy had fallen apart even before the surrender and so he now made his living in this drifting from one town to another in North Texas with his newspapers and journals in a waterproof portfolio and his coat collar turned up against the weather. He rode a very good horse and was concerned that someone might try to take the horse from him but so far so good. So he had arrived in Wichita Falls on February 26 and tacked up his posters and put on his reading clothes in the stable. There was a hard rain outside and it was noisy but he had a good strong voice.

He shook out the Journal’s pages.

The Fifteenth Amendment, he read, which has just been ratified on February 3, 1870, allows the vote to all men qualified to vote without regard to race or color or previous condition of servitude. He looked up from the text. His reading glasses caught the light. He bent slightly forward over the lectern. That means colored gentlemen, he said. Let us have no vaporings or girlish shrieks. He turned his head to search the crowd of faces turned up to him. I can hear you muttering, he said. Stop it. I hate muttering.

He glared at them and then said, Next. The Captain shook out another newspaper. The latest from the New-York Tribune states that the polar exploration ship Hansa is reported by a whaler as being crushed and sunk in the pack ice in its attempt to reach the North Pole; sunk at seventy degrees north latitude off Greenland. There is nothing in this article about survivors. He flipped the page impatiently.

The Captain had a clean-shaven face with runic angles, his hair was perfectly white, and he was still six feet tall. His hair shone in the single hot ray from the bull’s-eye lantern. He carried a short-barreled Slocum revolver in his waistband at the back. It was a five-shot, .32 caliber and he had never liked it all that much but then he had rarely used it.

Over all the bare heads he saw Britt Johnson and his men, Paint Crawford and Dennis Cureton, at the back wall. They were free black men. Britt was a freighter and the other two were his driving crew. They held their hats in their hands, each with one booted foot cocked up against the wall behind them. The hall was full. It was a broad open space used for wool storage and community meetings and for people like himself. The crowd was almost all men, almost all white. The lantern lights were harsh, the air was dark. Captain Kidd traveled from town to town in North Texas with his newspapers and read aloud the news of the day to assemblies like this in halls or churches for a dime a head. He traveled alone and had no one to collect the dimes for him but not many people cheated and if they did somebody caught them at it and grabbed them by the lapels and wrenched them up in a knot and said, You really ought to pay your goddamn dime, you know, like everybody else.

And then the coin would ring in the paint can.

HE GLANCED UP to see Britt Johnson lift a forefinger to him. Captain Kidd gave one brief nod, and completed his reading with an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer concerning the British physicist James Maxwell and his theories of electromagnetic disturbances in the ether whose wavelengths were longer than infrared radiation. This was to bore people and calm them down and put them into a state of impatience to leave—leave quietly. He had become impatient of trouble and other people’s emotions. His life seemed to him thin and sour, a bit spoiled, and it was something that had only come upon him lately. A slow dullness had seeped into him like coal gas and he did not know what to do about it except seek out quiet and solitude. He was always impatient to get the readings over with now.

The Captain folded the papers, put them in his portfolio. He bent to his left and blew out the bull’s-eye lantern. As he walked through the crowd people reached out to him and shook his hand. A pale-haired man sat watching him. With him were two Indians or half-Indians that the Captain knew for Caddos and not people of a commendable reputation. The man with the blond hair turned in his chair to stare at Britt. Then others came to thank the Captain for his readings, asked after his grown children. Kidd nodded, said, Tolerable, tolerable, and made his way back to Britt and his men to see what it was Britt wanted.

CAPTAIN KIDD THOUGHT it was going to be about the Fifteenth Amendment but it was not.

Yes sir, Captain Kidd, would you come with me? Britt straightened and lifted his hat to his head and so did Dennis and Paint. Britt said, I got a problem in my wagon.

She seemed to be about ten years old, dressed in the horse Indians’ manner in a deerskin shift with four rows of elk teeth sewn across the front. A thick blanket was pulled over her shoulders. Her hair was the color of maple sugar and in it she wore two down puffs bound onto a lock of her hair by their minute spines and also bound with a thin thread was a wing-feather from a golden eagle slanting between them. She sat perfectly composed, wearing the feather and a necklace of glass beads as if they were costly adornments. Her eyes were blue and her skin that odd bright color that occurs when fair skin has been burned and weathered by the sun. She had no more expression than an egg.

I see, said Captain Kidd. I see.

He had his black coat collar turned up against the rain and the cold and a thick wool muffler around his neck. His breath moved out of his nose in clouds. He bit his lower lip on the left side and thought about what he was looking at in the light of the kerosene hurricane lantern Britt held up. In some strange way it made his skin crawl.

I am astonished, he said. The child seems artificial as well as malign.

Britt had backed one of his wagons under the roof of the fairway at the livery stable. It didn’t fit all the way in. The front half of the wagon and the driver’s seat was wild with the drumming noise of the rain and a bright lift of rain-spray surrounded it. The back end was under shelter and they all stood there and regarded the girl the way people do when they come upon something strange they have caught in a trap, something alien whose taxonomy is utterly unknown and probably dangerous. The girl sat on a bale of Army shirts. In the light of the lantern her eyes reflected a thin and glassy blue. She watched them, she watched every movement, every lift of a hand. Her eyes moved but her head was still.

Yes sir, said Britt. She’s jumped out of the wagon twice between Fort Sill and here. As far as Agent Hammond can figure out she is Johanna Leonberger, captured at age six four years ago, from near Castroville. Down near San Antonio.

I know where it is, said Captain Kidd.

Yes sir. The Agent had all the particulars. If that’s her, she’s about ten.

Britt Johnson was a tall, strong man but he watched the girl with a dubious and mistrusting expression. He was cautious of her.

My name is Cicada. My father’s name is Turning Water. My mother’s name is Three Spotted. I want to go home.

But they could not hear her because she had not spoken aloud. The Kiowa words in all their tonal music lived in her head like bees.

Captain Kidd said, Do they know who her parents are?

Yes sir, they do. Or as much as he can figure out from the date she was taken. The Agent, here, I’m talking about. Her parents and her little sister were killed in the raid. He had a paper from her relatives, Wilhelm and Anna Leonberger, an aunt and uncle. And he gave me a fifty-dollar gold piece to deliver her back to Castroville. The family sent it up to him by a major from San Antonio, transferred north. He was to give it to somebody to transport her home. I said I would get her out of Indian Territory and across the Red. It wasn’t easy. We like to drowned. That was yesterday.

The Captain said, It’s come up two foot since yesterday.

I know it. Britt stood with one foot on the drawbar. The hurricane lantern burned with its irresolute light on the tailgate and shone into the interior of the freight wagon as if revealing some alien figure in a tomb.

Captain Kidd took off his hat and shook water from it. Britt Johnson had rescued at least four captives from the red men. From the Comanche, from the Kiowa, and once from the Cheyenne up north in Kansas. Britt’s own wife and two children had been taken captive six years ago, in 1864, and he had gone out and got them back. Nobody knew quite how he had done it. He seemed to have some celestial protection about him when he rode out alone on the Red Rolling Plains, a place which seemed to invite both death and dangers. Britt had taken on the task of rescuing others, a dark man, cunning and strong and fast like a nightjar in the midnight air. But Britt was not going to return this girl to her parents, not even for fifty dollars in gold.

Why won’t you go? said Captain Kidd. You have come this far already. Fifty dollars in gold is a considerable amount.

I figured I could find somebody to hand her off to here, Britt said. It’s a three-week journey down there. Then three weeks back. I have no haulage to carry down there.

Behind him Paint and Dennis nodded. They crossed their arms in their heavy waxed-canvas slickers. Long bright crawls of water slid across the livery stable floor and took up the light of the lantern like a luminous stain and the roof shook with the percussion of drops as big as nickels.

Dennis Crawford, thin as a spider, said, We wouldn’t make a dime the whole six weeks.

Unless we could get something to haul back up here, said Paint.

Shut up, Paint, said Dennis. You know people down there?

Well, all right, said Paint. I can hear you.

Britt said, There it is. I can’t leave my freighting that long. I have orders to deliver. And the other thing is, if I’m caught carrying that girl it would be bad trouble. He looked the Captain straight in the eye and said, She’s a white girl. You take her.

Captain Kidd felt in his breast pocket for his tobacco. He didn’t find it. Britt rolled a cigarette and handed it to him and then snapped a match in his big hand. Captain Kidd had not lost any sons in the war and that was because he had all daughters. Two of them. He knew girls. He didn’t know Indians but he knew girls, and what was on that girl’s face was contempt.

He said, Find a family going that way, Britt. Somebody to drown her in sweetness and light and improving lectures on deportment.

Good idea, said Britt. I thought of it already.

And so? Captain Kidd blew out smoke. The girl’s eyes did not follow it. Nothing could move her gaze from the men’s faces, the men’s hands. She had a drizzle of freckles across her cheekbones and her fingers were blunt as noses with short nails lined in black.

Can’t locate any. Hard to find somebody to trust with this.

Captain Kidd nodded. But you’ve delivered girls before now, he said. The Blainey girl, you got her back.

Not that far a trip. Besides I don’t know those people down there. You do.

Yes, I see.

Captain Kidd had spent years in San Antonio; he had married into an old San Antonio family and he knew the way, knew the people. In North and West Texas there were many free black men, they were freighters and scouts and now after the war, the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, all black. However, the general population had not settled the matter of free black people in their minds yet. All was in flux. Flux: a soldering aid that promotes the fusion of two surfaces, an unstable substance that catches fire.

The Captain said, You could ask the Army to deliver her. They take charge of captives.

Not anymore, said Britt.

What would you have done if you hadn’t come across me?

I don’t know.

I just got here from Bowie. I could have gone south to Jacksboro.

I saw your posters when we pulled in, Britt said. It was meant.

One last thing, said Captain Kidd. Maybe she should go back to the Indians. What tribe took her?


Britt was smoking as well. His foot on the drawbar was jiggling. He snorted blue fumes from his nostrils and glanced at the girl. She stared back at him. They were like two mortal enemies who could not take their eyes from one another. The endless rain hissed in a ground spray out in the street and every roof in Wichita Falls was a haze of shattered water.

And so?

Britt said, The Kiowa don’t want her. They finally woke up to the fact that having a white captive gets you run down by the cav. The Agent said to bring all the captives in or he was cutting off their rations and sending the Twelfth and the Ninth out after them. They brought her in and sold her for fifteen Hudson’s Bay four-stripe blankets and a set of silver dinnerware. German coin silver. They’ll beat it up into bracelets. It was Aperian Crow’s band brought her in. Her mother cut her arms to pieces and you could hear her crying for a mile.

Her Indian mother.

Yes, said Britt.

Were you there?

Britt nodded.

I wonder if she remembers anything. From when she was six.

No, said Britt. Nothing.

The girl still did not move. It takes a lot of strength to sit that still for that long. She sat upright on the bale of Army shirts which were wrapped in burlap, marked in stencil for Fort Belknap. Around her were wooden boxes of enamel washbasins and nails and smoked deer tongues packed in fat, a sewing machine in a crate, fifty-pound sacks of sugar. Her round face was flat in the light of the lamp and without shadows, or softness. She seemed carved.

Doesn’t speak any English?

Not a word, said Britt.

So how do you know she doesn’t remember anything?

My boy speaks Kiowa. He was captive with them a year.

Yes, that’s right. Captain Kidd shifted his shoulders under the heavy dreadnought overcoat. It was black, like his frock coat and vest and his trousers and his hat and his blunt boots. His shirt had last been boiled and bleached and ironed in Bowie; a fine white cotton with the figure of a lyre in white silk. It was holding out so far. It was one of the little things that had been depressing him. The way it frayed gently on every edge.

He said, Your boy spoke with her.

Yes, said Britt. For as much as she’d talk to him.

Is he with you?

Yes. Better on the road with me than at home. He’s good on the road. They are different when they come back. My boy nearly didn’t want to come back to me.

Is that so? The Captain was surprised.

Yes sir. He was on the way to becoming a warrior. Learned the language. It’s a hard language.

He was with them how long?

Less than a year.

Britt! How can that be?

I don’t know. Britt smoked and turned to lean on the wagon tailgate and looked back into the dark spaces of the stable with the noise of horses and mules eating, eating, their teeth like grindstones moving one on another and the occasional snort as hay dust got up their noses, the shifting of their great cannonball feet. The good smell of oiled leather harness and grain. Britt said, I just don’t know. But he came back different.

In what way?

Roofs bother him. Inside places bother him. He can’t settle down and learn his letters. He’s afraid a lot and then he turns around arrogant. Britt threw down his smoke and stepped on it. So, gist of it is, the Kiowa won’t take her back.

Captain Kidd knew, besides the other reasons, that Britt trusted him to return her to her people because he was an old man.

Well, he said.

I knew you would, said Britt.

Yes, said the Captain. So.

Britt’s skin was saddle colored but now paler than it usually was because the rainy winter had kept the sun from his face for months. He reached into the pocket of his worn ducking coat and brought out the coin. It was a shining sulky color, a Spanish coin of eight escudos in twenty-two karat gold, and all the edge still milled, not shaved. A good deal of money; everyone in Texas was counting their nickels and dimes and glad to have them since the finances of the state had collapsed and both news and hard money were difficult to come by. Especially here in North Texas, near the banks of the Red River, on the edge of Indian Territory.

Britt said, That’s what the family sent up to the Agent. Her parents’ names were Jan and Greta. They were killed when the Kiowa captured her. Take it, he said. And be careful of her.

As they watched, the girl slid down between the freight boxes and bales as if fainting and pulled the thick blanket over her head. She was weary of being stared at.

Britt said, She’ll stay there the night. She’s got nowhere to go. She can’t get hold of any weapons that I can think of. He took up the lamp and stepped back. Be really careful.


THE WOMEN OF the town of Wichita Falls gave her a blue-and-yellow-striped dress and underthings, worsted stockings, a nightgown with a lace banding at the neck, and shoes that more or less fit, but they could do nothing with her. They were reluctant to use force on a small, thin girl with scars on her forearms and a stare like a china doll. They didn’t want to wrestle with the child, and in addition she had lice.

Finally the Captain took her to Lottie’s establishment. The women there were bold and somehow virile, and had tramped the roads as camp followers. Many had been in jail here and there. They were not in the least reluctant to use force. It cost them two hours to get her into a bathtub and washed and to dispose of her Kiowa dress. One of the women threw the glass beads and the deerskin dress with its valuable elk teeth out the window. They pulled the feathers from her hair, which was crawling with graybacks.

They held her head under a stream of hot water from a pitcher and scrubbed her scalp and her body with blue soap. She fought with them; for ten years old she was agile, thin, amazingly

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What people think about News of the World

302 ratings / 135 Reviews
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  • (4/5)
    A sweet story about a man, Captain Kidd, who travels across a post-civil war Texas to deliver a little girl, Johanna, who was taken by the Kiowa tribe when she was 6 and is being returned to her aunt and uncle 4 years later. Johanna does not remember much about her past life and identifies as a Kiowan, Captain tries to teach her, but also lets her be herself while they travel and face many obstacles that bonds them together. The writing is pretty direct, everything written is related to the story, which felt weird at first because the story begins immediately without knowing the characters well. Captain's background is explored here and there throughout the novel, would of liked to have that for Johanna as well, like when she lived with the Kiowas.
  • (4/5)
    A simple but emotional historical fiction novel about an old Captain who is tasked with bringing a young German girl back to her family (she had been captured by the Kiowa 4 years before). He has spent the last few years traveling around small towns in Texas reading the news of the day from newspapers all over the world. However, his task is slightly complicated by the half-wild Johanna who is caught between two worlds. The relationship that develops between this unlikely pair is without a doubt the heart of the novel. This was a great book, and I'm inspired to do some more research/reading about captive children.
  • (4/5)
    10 year old captured girl is being returned to former family by an ex-captain in the 1800's. There is a feeling of the "Old West" to this novel. The dialogue is missing quotation marks, which was distracting at first, but at some point I stopped noticing as the book unfolded. This is a short novel and while it was good and enjoyable, it is not one I would highly recommend.
  • (5/5)
    I love the idea of a man traveling from town to town to read the news of the world to isolated Americans after the Civil War. Captain Kidd is just that man and is known throughout northern Texas. When the Kiowas return a young girl from captivity, the Captain is hired to return her to her family near San Antonio. The characters and adventures are fascinating. For people who have problems with the author's non-use of quotations, I strongly suggest they listen to an audio version. It is worth listening a second time. One of my favorite books.
  • (4/5)
    NEWS OF THE WORLD is a nice little book, nothing earthshaking but still a good book and one you'll want to read.In post-Civil War time, Captain Jefferson Kidd travels to small towns in Texas where he is a reader, that is, he reads the news of the world to gatherings of people there. At one of his stops, he is given a 10-year-old girl to deliver to her aunt and uncle. The little girl, Johanna, had been stolen by the Indians when she was 4 years old. Now she is Indian, herself, having lost all traces of European language and manners. We travel across Texas along with the captain and Johanna and watch as they grow to love one another, the "old man" and his "little warrior."You'll probably love this book. Most people do.
  • (5/5)
    Short, enjoyable story of an aging gentleman who inherits the problem of transporting a 10 year old girl--who was captured and raised by the Kiowa for several years--back to her family in San Antonio, Texas--just after the Civil War. Reminded me of a Gentleman from Moscow.
  • (4/5)
    Itinerant reader of news on the Texas frontier agrees to deliver a child, recovered tone Kiowa, to her unfeeling family. He learns to love her, takes her home. A truly original and rewarding book.
  • (4/5)
    Captain Kidd makes his living traveling from one small Texas town to another, reading the news of the world, bringing stories of far-off places to rural people who need escape and entertainment. At one of his stops, he is persuaded to escort a young girl, recaptured from the Kiowa Indians, back to her relatives near San Antonia. Ten-year-old Johanna has lived with the Kiowa for four years, the only life and family she remembers, and she seems almost feral. As they journey, a bond begins to form between the old man and the young girl, strengthened by the adventures they share, including one memorable gunfight. But if you expect this novel to be maudlin or sentimental, banish that thought. This is a simple story well-told with well-defined characters who you will truly come to care about--a heart-warming read perfect for the holidays.
  • (4/5)
    The elderly Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd - veteran of the War of 1812 and Mexican-American War, former printer, and widower - currently earns a living as an itinerant news reader traveling town to town in Texas. When no one is available to take a feral ten-year old white girl, who has been recently rescued from the Kiowa Indians who kidnapped her after killing her parents, to relatives near San Antonio, Capt. Kidd accepts a $50 gold piece and begins the trek. The trip will average about 20 miles per day in a buckboard wagon for approximately 21 days.I found Capt. Kidd's profession of news reader interesting. He would travel to towns, where I imagine many of the citizens were illiterate, and perform readings from various domestic and foreign newspapers. I also enjoyed learning about the white children captured and adopted by Native American Indians in the 19th century. Finally, I enjoyed reading about the bonding that occurred between this grandfatherly character and a young girl during the journey, each looking after the other.
  • (5/5)
    Loved, loved this novel of Texas in 1870, in which 71 year old Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd agrees to take custody of a 10 year old girl, Johanna Leonburger aka Cicada, recently 'rescued' from the Kiowa among whom she has lived for the last four years. Kidd is reluctant to take her with him - it is over 400 miles to the place where her aunt and uncle (who are her only surviving relatives) live, but finally agrees to do it, mostly as a favor to the men who have custody of her (they are black and fear to go traveling about in Texas with a little white girl) because they are his friends.Johanna, like so many redeemed captives, identifies with her Kiowa family. She speaks no English and reacts to every situation, naturally enough, as an Indian child would. She is homesick and afraid. The Captain must earn his living as they travel in order to get the money he needs to support the two of them on the journey (he reads newspaper stories in rented spaces to people in small towns from a wide selection of publications) and at first he cannot leave Johanna alone for any period of time for fear she will run off. And then there are the three men who want the girl. The Captain means to keep them from getting her, but he is an old man - an easy mark - even if he is a veteran of two wars.Jiles does a great job with this little novel. As the old man and the little girl grow closer over the course of their hard and dangerous journey during a very troubled time in Texas' history, I found it very easy to like them.Great book and much recommended. Only one criticism - and it may not bug anyone as much as it always does me - there are no quotation marks delineating conversation. Not even a tiny hyphen, such as there was in the most recent book I read that had no quotation marks. It really annoys me. I've said it many times and likely people are tired of me thumping this old drum, but without quotation marks I feel that am in a silent world and that people are not saying anything aloud. I feel deaf.
  • (5/5)
    This book dang near broke my heart...... but in a good way and solely due to the authors expertise in creating two wonderful characters with a unique relationship. captain Kidd, travels Northern Texas as a news reader, in post Civil War, Texas. He is offered a tidy sum to deliver a young girl who was captured by the Kiowa Indians when she was six, the rest of her immediate family killed in the raid.. Now ten she is traded back and needs to be returned to her aunt and uncle, her only surviving relatives. Johanna, wants only to be returned to her Indian tribe, her adopted Indian parents and remembers little about her early life.So they travel together, four hundred miles, and a relationship unlike any other is formed. Endearing, adventurous, descriptive writing, amazing dialogue, much humor, all the things that make a novel so good. The Captain doubts the wisdom of returning Johanna, but he is an honorable man and this is his charged duty. But is that the wisest decision? So this is what we keep reading to find out and along the way we meet many scoundrels, heroes and people who judge without understanding. Just one of those fantastic stories that the reader can't help but take to heart and have a great time along the way.ARC from William Morrow publishers.
  • (5/5)
    This is a classic Western tale, from the time when restless, defeated, unpaid Confederate soldier-survivors started calling themselves "cowboys". Captain Kidd is a newsreader - he travels through Texas, stopping in small towns where there's no newspaper to read to townspeople who pay a dime each to hear about not-so-current events from around the world (my dream job!). He is tasked with transporting a ransomed 10 year old Kiowa captive, Johanna, back to her family.Along the journey from Wichita Falls to San Antonio, Johanna's inability to leave behind her Kiowa family (who gave her up because they were being hunted down) after five years as their daughter is problematical for the Captain, but they adapt to each other, saving each other's lives more than once. The Captain's voice is spare and wry, and the travelogue makes the reader yearn to follow their trail, full well knowing that it's all WalMarts etc now.This is a classic, another "True Grit" for our time.
  • (5/5)
    Captain Jefferson Kidd must be one of the most endearing characters in U.S. historical fiction. At seventy plus years, he is traveling to the small towns of Texas reading the newspapers to the locals regarding news of various parts of the world; the most exotic, the better. He has been a printer, is widowed and has two daughters "back east." Captain Kidd finds himself in charge of a ten-year old German girl who was taken captive by the Kiowa Indians four years ago. He names her Johanna and starts on the 400 mile journey to return her to her family, which is an aunt and uncle since her parents were killed when she was captured.Johanna is a wild child but with the wisdom beyond her years. She and Captain Kidd encounter a wide assortment of characters on their way south; one who wants to "buy" her. Soon the Captain feels a grandfatherly protection and admiration for the child especially after she helped him ward off four scoundrels by using dimes in place of ammunition. Johanna is eventually reunited with her aunt and uncle who obviously are looking for more a slave than a niece. Captain leaves her, but his conscience will not let him abandon her. Great ending which gives a look into the future of Johanna and her "grandfather" Captain Kidd.A story of a good man told with wit, reality, and insight.
  • (4/5)
    We all have images in our heads of the Wild West, gunslingers, and cowboys. All of it is out-sized and iconic But how many of those images grew out of Hollywood movies or TV rather than out of a truth that might be less palatable or slower or not as outrageous? Paulette Jiles' newest novel, News of the World, finds a dreamier, more personal story set in a lawless West that does have a passing resemblance to the one depicted on screens and page but which is also more tempered and truthful feeling.Captain Jefferson Kidd is a widower whose daughters are grown and gone. He was a soldier and a printer. Now retired from both professions, he's an itinerant news reader traveling through small towns reading articles and bringing news of the outside world to remote places in Texas. When he encounters a good man he knows in one of the towns, he agrees to take on returning a ten year old girl, a captive of the Kiowa for four years, to her aunt and uncle many miles away. The young girl, Johanna, doesn't speak English and has forgotten German. She doesn't remember life before joining her Kiowa family and she desperately wants to be returned to them. As they travel towards the white family she doesn't remember, Johanna and "Kep-dun" come to a fragile trust in each other. Kidd is weary and feeling his age. Johanna is fierce in the stoicism learned from her Native family. But ultimately they come to be each other's family, grandfather and granddaughter, on the long road, offering respect, protection, and concern for each other.Jiles has written a slow, deliberate, and beautifully written character study here. In this novel, that sometimes has the hypnotic feel of sitting in a saddle and creaking back and forth along a trail, she has drawn a tale that captures the time, just after the Civil War when tensions were high, and the place, a Texas where the law was sometimes markedly absent, so very well. The characters of Captain Kidd and Johanna are spare and yet full. Kidd's careful selection of the news pieces for each stop on their journey to the Leonberger homestead tells not only the news of the world far from the towns they visit but also very much about the towns themselves. Told almost entirely from Kidd's perspective, with only small insights into Johanna's thoughts, the narrative leaves the child fairly enigmatic but gives the reader more insight into the goodness and personality of Kidd. The novel is quite short, muted, and quiet, despite a couple of scary situations, and it maintains a feeling of rightness and inevitable fatedness throughout its pages. It is not a wild western but a measured, almost hushed, lovely piece of work.
  • (5/5)
    Request an ARC, get an ARC, really like said ARC. This a fine new western that reminds any reader that really fine writing can powerfully tell any story. It's got everything you'd want in a good story: guns, horses, Native Americans, seventy-plus old western story tellers, kidnapped children, and lots of heart.
  • (5/5)
    6 stars! Best of the Most Recent 100+ Novels I've ReadTexas 1870. Seventy-one year old Civil War vet, Captain Kidd, agrees to return Johanna, a 10 year old girl and captive of the Kiowas for the past four years, to her relatives living near San Antonio. The money is good, though there are some negatives. The journey will be 400 miles and will take 3-4 weeks, the route is extremely dangerous, and the girl wants to return to her Kiowa family. And she no longer understands nor speaks English.There is another upside though. The Captain will have opportunities along the way to do his normal work - reading the news to townspeople. Not from local newspapers, so nothing about bake sales, births, deaths, or worst of all, Texas politics. No, the Captain's niche is world news:"News all the way from France. Nobody knew anything about the Franco-Prussian @War but all were jointly amazed by information that had come across the Atlantic to them, here in North Texas, alongside the flooding Red River. They had no idea how it had got here, through what strange lands it had traveled......He read from the Philadelphia Inquirer of Dr. Schliemann's search for windy Troy in Turkey. He read of the telegraph wires from Britain to India, an article in the Calcutta Times forwarded to the London Daily Telegraph....he read of the unfortunate Hansa crushed on the pack ice of the North Pole....This was proving the most popular as he could see by the small gestures of the audience; they bent forward, they fixed their eyes upon him to hear of undiscovered lands in the kingdoms of ice, fabulous beasts, perils overcome, snow people in furry suits."On the trail the Captain and Johanna have rather casual eating arrangements. One night, over barbecue, the Captain notices that she has sauce up to her wrists. Realizing that they will make stops in small towns like Dallas along the way and that they will be eating in a restaurant, the Captain begins lessons on the proper use of knife and fork. Johanna proves to be more clumsy than expected but the Captain feels some progress was made - until Johanna turns and throws her fork into a box stall. A funny scene but author Paulette Jiles morphs it into something else in the very next paragraph."The Captain's shoulders dropped a fraction of an inch under his black formal coat. He was suddenly overwhelmed with pity for her. Torn from her parents, adopted by a strange culture, given new parents, then sold for a few blankets and some old silverware, now sent to stranger after stranger, crushed into peculiar clothing, surrounded by people of an unknown language and an unknown culture, and now she could not even eat her food without having to use outlandish instruments....He saw her look down at her stained hands and there were tears on her cheeks."There are so many great scenes like the ones mentioned above. It is heart-warming for the reader to witness how the bond between these two slowly develops. But this is 1870's Texas and violence can erupt anywhere, anytime. And so there is a good deal of tension woven throughout the story. Of course, Johanna runs away once or twice, and in the early days the Captain is hesitant to turn his back on her. The tension really amps up though on the trail when coming upon others - the possibilities are endless - outlaws, fellow travelers, soldiers, raiders, vigilantes, Comanche, Kiowa. Such encounters are infrequent but any one of them could have a fatal ending. The girl, the horses, even the Captain can sense, and sometimes smell, the unseen presence of others hidden only a few miles away.....It's a great story, expertly told. A book to be treasured and re-read. This is my first Jiles, and before I had finished it, I added three others by her to my reading list. "News of the World" is short-listed (five books are finalists) for this year's National Book Award which will be announced in November 2016. Highly recommended.
  • (4/5)
    This was a short but interesting little read. Set in Texas during Reconstruction, a man who travels the land reading news articles at public gatherings, has an orphan girl who was kidnapped by the Kiowa, foisted upon him to return her to her aunt and uncle.The little girl was taken at age 6 and at age 10 has gone fully native Kiowa. She remembers little English or German (her native tongue) and an aunt and uncle who live south of San Antonio, have commissioned people traveling the road to bring her back.The news reader is an old man now and he and the girl bond through their travels and travails through the newly opened western territories. Along the way they encounter highwaymen, cowboys, merchants, the military and various townspeople. Each encounter assists them or hinders them in their goal to get to Castroville, Texas. The little girl turns out to be handy and resourceful and the relationship blossoms along the trails and roads of Texas.This is not a long book but one I found charming and entertaining. If anything, it may have ended a little abruptly but I encourage readers to pick this one up if the old west and reconstruction era America interest you.
  • (5/5)
    Read this book earlier in the year. Great read. Very satisfying.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. An amazingly good read about Texas in the wake of the civil war. Captain Kidd volunteers to transport a 10 yr old white girl who has been rescued from the Kiowa Indians after living with them for 4 yrs. They travel 400 miles through unsettled territory, where they encounter danger and learn to rely on and understand each other. This is truly a gem of a story. I felt it was too short, but was definitely satisfied with the ending.
  • (5/5)
    Who knew that such a slim book could contain so much? Highly developed, complex characters, vivid plot, poetic language...if you ever find yourself in the mood for a slice of the Old West, look no farther than News of the World. You'll learn some post-Civil War history and get a little Texan cowboys-and-Indians action all while being soaked in some contemplation and introspection. I liked this better than True Grit. 4.5 stars
  • (5/5)
    At the beginning of the novel, I found myself annoyed with the lack of quotation marks to indicate dialogue, but the beauty of the writing slowly won me over. Captain Kidd is a bearer of news - the more remote and curious, the better. He ends up uniquely qualified to bring news of his world to a child alienated by horror and adopted into a foreign culture (the Kiowa) and then thrust out from that refuge back into the "civilized" world of early American settlers. Their relationship evolves in a beautiful way, and Captain Kidd is a lovely character.
  • (5/5)
    I was captivated by the concept of someone traveling from town to town reading the news. Captain Jefferson Kidd was no stranger to delivering news. At age 16 he carried messages in the War of 1812 by foot and on horseback: "Two years of directed flight across Georgia and the Alabama country, solitary, with his information in hand." "He always recalled those two years with a kind of wonder. As when one is granted the life and the task for which one was meant." In his 70's he continued this calling as a curator of news items chosen from newspapers and read to eager audiences in the new settlements of Texas. The Captain seemed satisfied, if not overtly happy, with the lifestyle of roving newsreader. The author beautifully conveys his appreciation of the open territory and his horse companions. Into his solitary world came upheaval, to put it mildly, when he accepted responsibility for the child, Johanna. His circuit of Texas towns uniquely qualified him to return the 10 year old fair skinned, blue eyed Kiowa captive to her closest relatives 400 miles away. Johanna, brought up in the ways and language of the Kiowa, was again carried away from a life she knew and did not want to leave. Captain Kidd agreed to escort her, taking over from a trader who left him with the warning, "Be really careful." You have to feel for each of them, one a child and one an older man, both rocked by a great change in circumstances. Their journey through the sparsely settled West with its open country and gritty towns becomes an endeavor toward some level of mutual understanding. The writing evokes all of the senses. I savored this book not only for its great plot but for the luscious prose which had not a word out of place. Highly recommended.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this story, and the characters. Set in 1870, this book tells the story of Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, and the 10 year old girl who was a former captive of the Kiowa, now rescued and being sent to be reunited with her only remaining family in San Antonio. Kidd is in his early 70's, a veteran of two wars, and lost all his savings during the Civil War. Currently he makes a living touring small towns in north and western Texas, reading newspapers from cities far removed, to people who are starved for information about the rest of the world. Johanna has no memories of her German-American family; her identity is that of a Kiowa. When Captain Kidd is offered $50 to transport Johanna from Wichita Falls to an aunt and uncle near San Antonio, he accepts. This is the story of their journey, the struggles along the way, and the bond that develops between them. Both characters were wonderfully drawn, and the author researched the plight of captive children and their difficulties with re-assimilation. I received an ARC of this book from LibraryThing, and from Harper Collins.
  • (4/5)
    He survived the Civil War and now Captain Jefferson Kidd travels Texas Hill Country performing readings of news stories much like an itinerant preacher riding the circuit. He soon finds himself with a young Kiowa captive that he plans to return to her German American family - as a favor and for silver. How this kindly, elderly printer and news reader becomes a stand-in grandfather to a scared, ten year old former Indian captive and tries to ease her re-entry to the 'civilized' world makes for a touching, interesting and highly readable novel. As in other Paulette Jiles novels the reader gets vignettes of Texas life following the Civil War, the strife between competing factions of North and South that have survived the end of the conflict, and the taming of Texas that includes skirmishes with Native Americans who fight hard for their lands. Her books focus on people and how they engage with each other and also with themselves to discover what it is that makes them free to live their lives, what actions are important to living a good life and walking the path of righteousness. Never preachy nor religious in nature, Jiles' books (and this is no exception) have everyday heroes who become exceptional through their actions - just as the Captain does in News of the World. Protecting a child, nurturing Johanna as he calls her and recognizing in this young child that spark, so many others would try taming into civility and ordinariness, becomes a key element of this novel. Johanna's ingenuity knows no bounds and you'll never look at a dime the same way after you read this novel.So take the trip with The Captain and Johanna and learn about the joy of friendship, the bond between grandfather and grandchild, extraordinary tidbits about childhood captives and Texas in the post Civil War period. An entertaining and enlightening read!
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed this beautifully written story of the friendship that develops between an elderly man, Jefferson Kidd, and Johanna Leonberger, the 10 year old white girl who had been "rescued" from the Kiowa in 1870 North Texas after she had lived as their captive for four years. He was hired to return her 400 miles through areas full of all sorts of dangers.The spare, poetic language gave the whole book a dreamlike quality and amount of research that went into the book made me feel as if I had entered North Texas during Reconstruction, but it never felt like it was researched. I live in North Texas and had heard much about this time, which seems so far removed from the present day. The elderly man, Jefferson Kidd, makes his living as an itinerant reader of newspapers bringing stories of enchanted lands far away. It makes me realize the truthfulness of the L.P. Hartley's statement, "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."
  • (5/5)
    Paulette Jiles is a new author for me and after reading News of the World, I hope to read more of her work. Her writing is exquisite. This is historical fiction with a beautiful, heart-wrenching story. The bonding between the two protagonists is lovely to read.The setting is 1870 in Texas after the Civil War. Captain Jefferson Kidd, a 72-year-old veteran of three wars and a former printer, travels through cities and towns to read the world news to anyone who will listen. He makes his living by charging 10 cents per person. People are hungry for news and there are few ways of getting it. As he travels, Kidd is asked and paid to escort 10-year-old Johanna to her relatives many miles away. She was kidnapped at age 3 by the Kiowa Indians and wants to remain a Kiowa. With a rebellious girl who speaks no English, the start of the journey is not pleasant for Kidd. There was suspense as they encounter many hardships on their journey, not to mention all the outlaws and unsavory characters. But as they keep going forward, they bond as though they were grandfather and granddaughter. This is a short novel in which the author does a great job of describing the scenes and the difficulties people had to endure during that era. A wonderful novel!
  • (4/5)
    One advantage to picking titles for my book discussion groups is it lets me catch up on ones I had meant to read, but never seemed to find the time. I loved the idea of someone traveling around the small towns of Texas reading the latest news from newspapers around the country and world. Captain Kidd and Johanna are such great characters and as unlikely a pair as they made on the surface had a bond stronger than most by the end. I can't wait to see what my two groups think of it.
  • (4/5)
    Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd has survived some of the bloodiest battles in America's short history. Now, in 1870 the widowed Captain spends his time travelling and reading news from around the world to paying audiences. In Wichita Falls, he is called into service once again; but this time he isn't carrying news. Four years earlier, the Kiowa Indians slaughtered a family and took a six-year-old girl captive. She has been raised in the Kiowa culture, forgotten most of the English language and now has been re-captured to be returned to her aunt and uncle in Castroville, Texas. Captain Kidd takes on the wild, young Johanna for the 400 mile journey. Knowing nothing of the civilized world, Johanna is confused and upset, and keeping her safe and secure proves to be a challenge during the dangerous journey. However, as they progress the Captain and Johanna form a strong bond.I loved the premise of this book, an older and wiser Captain Kidd taking in a young captive. Johanna's story, which is based on many true accounts of captive children who are returned to their original lives, captivated me. Johanna's journey in her mind was far more dangerous than their journey on the road. Johanna went through many emotional and psychological changes. We get a few insights into what is going on in her head, but not many. I feel like Johanna's inner dialogue would have been the most interesting; however the writing was done in third person, so we only get a few snippets. One quote that did stick out to me was: "It was not worth being alive when one was alone among aliens." The Captain's gentle, compassionate and patient nature with Johanna was wonderful to read about, without him, I'm sure she would not have survived. News of the World also gave me a great sense of what life was like in post-civil war Texas as the unlikely duo traveled from North to South throughout the state. This was a wonderful overview of the dangers, the people and the landscape of Texas at the time. This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    A very quick read about Captain Jefferson Kidd, an older man tasked with returning a 10-year-old girl to her family in 1870. Johanna had been stolen and raised for four years by Kiowan Indians (her family was killed) and her remaining relatives live in Texas. The years in captivity/living with her Indian family have erased much of her early childhood memories and she no longer behaves or thinks like a white person. Capt. Kidd makes his living reading the news and telling the stories to people in small towns as he travels. The beauty of this story is watching The Captain and Johanna grow slowly closer. There is humor and adventure and the newspaper topics were an interesting glimpse into history. I liked this book very much, but did not find it as remarkable as some others did. 3.5
  • (4/5)
    In this beautifully crafted post-Civil War novel, Captain Kidd, in his 70's, spends his days traveling through northern Texas and holding gatherings where he reads aloud from world newspapers. He leads a solitary life as a widower with two grown daughters who live in the east. Things take a dramatic turn for him when he takes on the job of returning a 10 year old girl to her family more than 400 miles away. Johanna was captured by Kiowa Indians after witnessing the brutal murder of her parents and sister, and she has completely absorbed her Indian family and culture. The challenge is for the Captain to try to tame her enough to survive their travels, and for the two of them to survive the variety of hardships and dangers on the very long and arduous journey. Although this novel is relatively short (209 pages), it's well worth taking plenty of time to enjoy the skillful and lyrical writing.