Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd has lost his printing business in the aftermath of the Civil War. He now travels at will through small Texas towns, reading newspapers for ten cents to citizens hungry for news of the outside world. At one of his stops in northern Texas, he’s offered a $50 gold piece to return a young girl to her relatives in San Antonio. Johanna’s parents had been killed in a raid; she was kidnapped and adopted into the Kiowa tribe, with whom she lived for six years. And so Captain Kidd begins this 400-mile treacherous journey with a 10-year-old girl, recently rescued by the Army, who only speaks Kiowa and is determined to eschew “civilized” behavior and clothing. Dependent upon each other, an unusual bond develops; ultimately, Captain Kidd is faced with a momentous decision. We, the readers, cheer him on in hopes that he comes through with the correct choice.
~ Eight Cousins— From Holiday Picks 2016
National Book Award Finalist—Fiction
It is 1870 and Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.
In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.
Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forging a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.
Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself. Exquisitely rendered and morally complex, News of the World is a brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.
“This Western is not to be missed by Jiles’s fans and lovers of Texan historical fiction.”