“If people had true knowledge of the world perhaps they would not take up arms and so perhaps he could be an aggregator of information from distant places and then the world would be a more peaceful place.”

Central library Brown Baggers book group met in person on Thursday, July 21st to discuss
News of the World by Paulette Jiles.  

Set in post Civil War Texas, Capt. Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels from town to town reading the news from around the country and the world to citizens eager and willing to pay to listen.  In a town near Indian territory, Capt. Kidd becomes bound by duty to return 10 yr. old Johanna to her biological relatives.  Joanna had been captured and held captive by the Kiowa Indians after her parents were murdered.  Having been with the Kiowas for 5 years, Johanna does not long for her birth family, but wants to run back to her Kiowa family. However, she does form a bond with Capt. Kidd and the Capt. works hard to re-civilize her and teach her how to speak English.  They become close, depending on one another through various perils they encounter on their journey.  

“News of the World”  was believable and seemed to be an accurate representation of life at that time.  The relationship between the Capt. and Johanna is symbiotic, but our readers pointed out that the Capt. had options and resources, while Johanna really had none. Our readers enjoyed the story, but some felt the ending might have been too neatly wrapped up and sugar coated. 

There was much discussion of non-formulaic Westerns and the Western genre with many additional authors and titles suggested.

Finally for those interested, Tom Hanks portrays Capt. Kidd in the 2020 film version of News of the World which can be borrowed from JMRL.

Other titles/authors mentioned:

Simon the Fiddler – Paulette Jiles

True Grit – Charle Portis

The Light in the Forest – Conrad Richter

The Heart of Everything That Is – Bob Drury and Thomas Clavin

The Captured: A True Story of Abduction by Indians on the Texas Frontier – Scott Zesch

Empire of the Summer Moon – S.C. Gwynne

Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry

Shane – Jack Schaefer

Riders of the Purple Sage – Zane Grey

Ivan Doig

Wallace Stegner

Join the Brown Baggers on Thursday, Aug. 18th to discuss Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. 

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