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News of the World

A beautifully written story of courage and the endearing bond developed between two memorable characters



In the aftermath of the Civil War Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. The Captain enjoys his rambling solitary existence. In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan, Johanna to her relatives in San Antonio. Johanna‘s parents and sister had been killed by a band of Kiowa four years earlier. Johanna was spared and the Kiowa raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. Army, the 10-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

The Captain and Johanna set off on a four hundred mile journey south through unsettled territory and dangerous terrain. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, and refuses to act civilized. Yet as the miles pass the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death. Arriving in San Antonio, Joanna’s family reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The Captain must hand Joanna over to an aunt and uncle who view her as an unwanted burden. Captain Kidd is heartbroken about having to abandon this girl to her uncaring relatives.

“Maybe life is just carrying news. Surviving to carry the news. Maybe we have just 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 through a life, all the way, and at the end handed over, sealed.”


NEWS OF THE WORLD is an unforgettable historical fiction novel of courage and responsibility. It’s full of suspense and danger as the Captain and Johanna journey onward. A respectful and dignified emotional bond develops between these two valiant travelers as they learn to depend on each other to survive.

The Captain had to reacquaint Johanna with civilized behavior—language, manners and morals—and he did so with the utmost patience and understanding. One of my favorite lines was when Johanna was about to collect a White man’s scalp, the Captain had to explain to her that this “is considered impolite and simply isn’t done.” The novel showcases these two well-drawn characters with which you can’t help but become enamored. The writing is both affecting and thought-provoking. The setting, characters and story blend perfectly to transport you to another place and time.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book was learning about the traveling News Readers and the importance of the news in the post civil war era. In his travels, Captain Kidd would gather newspapers and carefully select the news from far away places that he would read to inform and entertain his paying audiences.

The National Book Award for Fiction and the Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction were just two of the several awards author PAULETTE JILES received for NEWS OF THE WORLD in 2016. JILES Lives in San Antonio, Texas and is a poet and memoirist. Her best-selling novels included Enemy Women and Stormy Weather.

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

Publisher William Morrow

Published October 4, 2016

Narrator Grover Gardner

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