News of the World

News of the World

by Paulette Jiles


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Soon to be a Major Motion Picture Starring Tom Hanks 

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062409201
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/04/2016
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 46,470
Product dimensions: 5.70(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(d)

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.


Southwest Texas

Place of Birth:

Salem, Missouri


B.A. in Romance Languages, University of Missouri


Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Paulette Jiles

In the National Book Award finalist News of the World, elderly, genteel Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a former soldier and onetime printer, makes his living traveling through post–Civil War Texas with a sheaf of newspapers, reading for dimes to audiences hungry for outside news.

The former Johanna Leonberger, a ten-year-old German girl taken captive by the Kiowa in a brutal raid, is now by all measures Kiowa herself. She's traded back for four blankets and a set of silver only when the encroaching U.S. Army threatens violence if all captives are not returned. When an aunt and uncle offer a $50 gold piece for Johanna's safe return, Captain Kidd reluctantly takes the job.

Their uneasy alliance is also a portrait of the American West -- a singular creation, born of a cataclysm. It's familiar territory for Jiles, whose novel The Color of Lightning tells the story of real-life cowboy and Texas freighter Britt Johnson, the former slave who rescued his own family from the Kiowa, then went on to retrieve other captives. Johnson makes a brief appearance in the novel -- an old friend, he's the one who asks Kidd to take the job.

I spoke with Paulette Jiles about Britt Johnson's legacy, researching antique rifles on YouTube, and quotation marks in British novels. --Lizzie Skurnick

The Barnes & Noble Review: I'm fascinated by the notion that children who are taken captive turn into Indians. What are your thoughts about how the changeover occurred?

Paulette Jiles: Did you read Scott Zesch's The Captured? What he pointed out is that many of these captives were really lost, because by the time they grew up and matured, especially the men, into warriors, the Comanche were confined to the reservation, so that whole wonderful, free life of chasing the buffalo was finished.

BNR: Where did you learn the Kiowa songs -- for instance, the Kiowa song Johanna sings when she walks alongside the wagon?

PJ: There's a wonderful book called Remember We Are Kiowa, which included many phrases, many stories, including the one about the cicada singing. And on the International Language Institutes site, they have sample tapes from different languages all over the world. I thought, "Oh, can I just get lucky here?"

BNR: In Johanna's case, she goes from hostile to having a sense of humor.

PJ: You have to remember that gunfight scene is seminal. She's a fighter herself, and the two of them bond, so she's more willing to relearn Western, civilized ways.

BNR: And to not scalp. Speaking of which, how did you research the guns in that scene?

PJ: I live out in the country by myself, and I have an old Mossberg .20 gauge bolt action. I keep it for varmints. That's why I gave the Captain a .20 gauge. I'm not even sure they had a bolt action in 1870. I think it would have been sort of a lever, then you load the . . . you know what I am talking about?

BNR: You might as well be speaking Kiowa.

PJ: Have I lost you? I looked up "Antique 20 gauge shotgun" on YouTube. One of the videos was a bunch of young guys out in a dump, shooting at old televisions and microwaves, seeing what kinds of things they could stuff down into a .20 gauge shell. They just blew this microwave apart with frozen gummy bears. And one of them said, "A U.S. dime is the only coin that will fit into a .20 gauge shell."

BNR: I am fascinated on how much research you did on the Internet with this. Was the bulk of your research on the Internet?

PJ: With the exception of the captive narratives.

BNR: I pictured you'd have a library of books for each work.

PJ: You look for what you need. So when [Kidd] buys a wagon to go south, he's been carrying a pack pony with him, but he can't do that with a small girl, so he has to get a wagon. I don't want a covered wagon, first of all because it would be too large, and he would need a four-horse team. So I went through images and found a little excursion wagon.

BNR: I had never heard of the job of a newsreader. How did you choose that role for him?

PJ: The husband of a friend mentioned that his great- grandfather was a newsreader. I put him into The Color of Lightning, but he was too good a character to just leave, and I thought, this person deserves a book to himself.

BNR: That brings us to Britt Johnson. Can you tell me about how you came across him?

PJ: I was considering a sequel to Enemy Women, and I came across the famous Elm Creek Raid of 1863, involving Britt Johnson. He was a true hero and very brave. He rescued his wife and two children, and no one knows how he did it. Apparently they used his story as the basis for The Searchers, only they changed him to a white man, and changed his wife, daughter, and son to a niece.

BNR: What's the difference between poetry and prose for you, as a writer? PJ: The basic unit of poetry is a phrase, and the basic unit of prose is supposed to be a sentence. So I had a long training in sounds, and searching out exactly the right word, and not being content with a word that was halfway okay. Nor could I be content with an awkward rhythm.

BNR: There's a technical question I like to ask authors of westerns. Often, you don't use quotation marks around dialogue. Is that a deliberate choice?

PJ: In older British novels, they use dash lines. I really like that a lot. And when I picked up Cormac McCarthy, who simply threw them away, I thought, "That's so daring." So I did that for Enemy Women. I received so many complaints. I put them back in for Color of Lightning, chicken that I am. Now I'm reading some of the reviews on Goodreads, complaining about it. So I went to Cormac McCarthy, The Road, All the Pretty Horses. Not one complaint.

BNR: I'm not sure if you realize, but this book is a heart- stopping experience. I was going to kill you if something bad happened to Johanna.

PJ: You were going to come to Utopia and find me?

BNR: Exactly. Because obviously, The Color of Lightning does not have a happy ending.

PJ: I had a friend here in Utopia who told me, "Please, please don't tell me Britt gets killed.” Sorry. I can't help it. It was a real person.

BNR: Was it a choice to make News of the World such a happy book?

PJ: The fashion has been in literary fiction for the depressing ending, and for more or less passive characters who have terrible things happen to them. The ending is sort of out of defiance. Kidd is a strong character and very intelligent. He was a man of honor. He was going to help her and protect her no matter what. So why not have a happy ending? Is there a law?

--December 9, 2016

Customer Reviews

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News of the World 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 34 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A rich, vivid tale that is perfectly paced. I did not want to put it down. You know a novel is special when you are tearful at the end because of the plot and because your time with these characters had to end. I highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Got this ebook because it was inexpensive and was just wanting something to read. Turned out to be well written and easy to reccomend to other readers. Its a simple story with strong characters. Made me cry and laugh. Buying all of this authors works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Patricia Jiles’ News of the World is the best book I have read in several years, the kind that only rarely comes along. A Civil War veteran travels around to smaller, more isolated towns to read from newspapers and magazines, in order to satisfy their appetite for what is happening in the greater world. Meanwhile, the vet is assigned the task of returning a kidnapped Native American girl to her tribe. Jiles did a great job of describing how the abduction affected the child. There are suspensefl twists and turns, and I will not give away any spoilers. If you are a fan of history, or just like good books period, this book is for you. My only “complaint” would be a suggestion for this and other authors: When you are using a good number of words that are not in the dictionary, it would be helpful to your readers, if you include a glossary. The words were in italics, so obviously it was known that they were uncommon. But it is an outstanding book that spoils you for other books for awhile.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! Great story and characters
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I searched about 200 summaries, some selected and read. This one has true historical context, superb character insights, 5 star writing quality, and wit. I^m grateful for all the effort it must have taken to craft this story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could see this as a movie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a well written novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my book club discussion. It is a beautifully told story of a young girl and an older man. Johanna had been kidnapped by the Kiowa at age 6. At age 10; she was rescued and given to Captain Kidd to return to her aunt and uncle. Captain Kidd makes a living reading newspaper articles from around the world in small towns. So their journey begins. Their journey across Texas involved so much more than travel. It involved the journey of the young girl discovering her way back into a different culture. It was the journey of two people coming to trust and care for each other. It was a journey to find safety. It was a journey to find family. While I loved this story, I will admit the writing style was a little challenging to read. Dialogue was written without traditional punctuation, so at times it was hard to know if the words were spoken or just thought by the characters. But, once I got used to it, it stopped hindering the flow of the story. This is definitely a book I will recommend to others!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A gift, I thought, for light "summer" reading. Wrong. Historically fascinating, especially the role the role of Texas in the Civil War. The description of the Indian girl living between two worlds is piercing accurate. 50 yrs ago I had a friend who spent 12 yrs as a reservation Indiana, then moved to a wealthy St. Louis suburb. Psychologically, very similar.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A pretty predictable plot and characters, but I was looking for an easy read. You don't have to think too hard while reading it and its not a pageturner, but if you want a book to read at night or on the beach it'll keep you entertained.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Highly recommended. Amazing and fascinating story of a unique adventure in Texas after the Civil War. The novel includes a reader of the news, a recused child, bandits, gun fights, danger, cruelty, loving relationships, dimes, and more. Excellent novel that deserves lots of awards. This novel deserves an A+++++++
caroldh4 More than 1 year ago
News of the World is by Paulette Jiles. This book was generously provided to me in exchange for an honest review by Harper Collins Publishers. I want to admit up front that I don’t usually read historical fiction. This book was definitely outside of the norm for me. It has been receiving high ratings from other readers so I decided to give it a try. Although at times I could find myself fading when there was a lot of history, the characters won my heart. Captain Jefferson Kidd is seventy one years old. He lost his wife, has raised two daughters, fought in several wars. It is 1870, a few years after the end of the Civil War and the country is still in turmoil. The Captain travels the country and for a price of ten cents each, he rents out large rooms and reads the news to anyone wanting to listen. This is how he makes his living. It is at one of his readings that an acquaintance of his asks for his help. He has a little ten year old girl that was taken by the Kiowa when she was six. He has rescued her but the little girl remembers nothing of her life before. In her mind she is a Kiowa. The little girl needs to be returned to her surviving family, an Aunt and Uncle. The trip would take three weeks and would be dangerous. He will pay the Captain $50 to deliver the girl. The Captain is hesitant to take on such a huge responsibility. It is evident that the girl is wild. But he does accept the job. Along the journey his gentle way with her slowly settles her and they grow attached. They encounter danger and share joy. It was shocking to me the things that people of that time had to worry about, the danger they had to endure to survive. It is so foreign to anything we know now. But one thing is the same and that is that there are good people and there are bad people. There are people with blackness in their hearts who seek little ten year old girls for vile reasons. And little Johanna is lucky enough to have the Captain to protect her. Together they are a force to be reckoned with. As their bond strengthens, the idea of returning her to her relatives becomes more and more painful. But this is what he was paid to do, it is the right thing to do, isn’t it? I did enjoy this book, it was a quick read. I loved the ending. If you enjoy historical fiction then you will most likely love this.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Anonymous 11 months ago
Learned so much about the abduction of white children by Native Americans and how drastically it changed them. Will read more on this subject.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Two2dogs More than 1 year ago
This book is my Book Club pick for November, I am so glad I read this book, loved the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great thought provoking read
Niki_Estes More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure where to start a review for this book. It took me a little while to get into the story, but by the end, I loved the characters, Captain Kidd and Johanna. (Honestly, I think one thing that held me back from connecting with them more quickly was the lack of quotation marks. It made it difficult to read the dialogue.) Captain Kidd is a quintessential Western character reminiscent of Larry McMurty's Call and Gus (Lonesome Dove). You can't help but fall in love with the character. Then, there is poor Johanna. The things she lived through that shaped her life and personality would be so difficult to cope with as an adult let alone a young child. About half way through the book, I was thinking I would rate the book with 3 or 4 stars. As the story progressed, I felt more connected with the characters and just couldn't put it down. I think I would rate it 4 or 4.5 stars now that I've finished. (Those missing quotation marks really annoyed me while reading!)
rokinrev More than 1 year ago
“Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we just have one message, and it is delivered to us when we are born and we are never sure what it says, it may have nothing to do with us personally but it must be carried by hand thorough a life, all the way, and at the end handed over,sealed” Why have I let this book languish on the shelf since 2016 I will never know. What a marvelous little story! It focuses on the story of Johanna Leonberger, captured by the Kiowa as spoils of a raid on her family, and held captive for over four years until she was rescued by soldiers and then passed to others in hopes of returning her to her relatives. It is also the story of Captain Jefferson Kidd, his ability to share the news of the world as men did in those days, and being asked to take the ten year old to her uncle and aunt. Along the way they see the loner caring for the girl and vice versa as the world “recovers” from the Civil War. How are they treated, both separately and together? How do they see the world with and without each other? In just over 200 pages the reader is literally transported to right where this is happening in time and place, a good hallmark of well done historical fiction. Highly recommended.5/5
Jubo More than 1 year ago
This reads like old-time storytelling (and the story is great). Beautifully descriptive, engaging ended and I wanted more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written with richly retailed chracters and very good expressions of the human condition. Often felt as though I could "see" the scenery as it was portrayed. I was filled with sorrow at the mistreatment of this little girl.
xprobin More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book and the historical details. It is a quick read that could have benefited from more development at the end of the novel. Instead, the author does a summary of what happens 10-20 years after the main characters have completed their journey.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
He travels through the countryside reading the news, collecting ten-cents a head to those who gather and listen to it. The year is 1870 and on one of his stops, he is asked to take a 10-year-old white girl to her relatives, as they feel he would have better luck seeing her to her destination, as he too is white. During this 400-mile journey, as the distance becomes shorter, their relationship deepens. Captain Kidd had the girl stripped and cleaned up before he left town with her. Joanna had been living with the Kiowa Indians for the past four years after they had captured her, and now free from that lifestyle, she needs to make some lifestyle changes and she has some learning to do. Captain bought a wagon to make traveling easier and after he loaded up their gear, they were gone. Captain tried to teach Johanna various skills and techniques that he thought she should know and she was a quick learner. Johanna taught the Captain a few skills that she had learned from the Indians as she was growing up and the Captain soon realized that she wasn’t as helpless as he thought. Soon Johanna was jumping in to help before Captain had to ask. Needing money, they would spend the night in a town where the Captain could do one of his readings. The Captain would find someone to sit with Joanna as he wasn’t sure if she would stay while he was gone. The Captain would try to find an adult to supervise her which didn’t always work out. Many times, he would have to hunt her down as these adults were not always competent enough to watch her. Captain had a job to do but he soon began to wonder if all this hassle was worth it. I found myself drawn into the relationship of these two. Johanna is still attached to her Indian lifestyle and she wants to go back to them. She is used to the outdoors, the countryside and nature’s way of doing thing. Captain thinks of Joanna’s future: living under a roof, cooking on a stove, wearing dresses and being a proper lady and he doesn’t know how she will manage these changes or if she will. I liked how Captain was determined only to read what he thought was proper during his readings. He did not want fights or arguments to occur them and he stood up to others when they questioned him about what he read. When I read the synopsis of this novel, I was skeptical whether this novel would be something I would enjoy. This novel surprised me as once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I’m glad the book club choose this novel as it is something I would have never picked up on my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago