News of the World: A Book Experience

These are times when there is a lot of unrest in the world we are living in. Innocent lives are being lost because of the craze of a single person. The world had not even formally bid adieu to the worrisome times of corona induced pandemic, that it already got welcomed to another unrest situation. Yes I am referring to the Ukraine-Russia war. Wars are no good for humans and even for that matter the innocent animals living in those areas. Wars lead to separation of families, children turning into children of war and even orphans, animosity and savages kind of attitude amongst many, etc. And at such a worrisome time I came across this book called News of the World by Paulette Jiles.

The book is based in America of 1870. A young girl of 10 years age is released from the captivity of Native American tribe, Kiowas, after four years. The parents and sister of the girl were gruesomely killed when she was 6, and now that she is free she is eventually handed over to a man named Captain Kidd so that he can take her back to her uncle and aunty’s home in Texas. The little girl, Johanna, over the course of 4 years of her captivity starts identifying herself as one of the Kiowa only. She has had a troubled life so far, from being seperated from her parents, then held captive, and then transferred from people to people so that she can be brought home. All this much in a span of 10 years. Captain Kidd, a 71 year old gentleman, is a veteran of the War of 1812. He has seen enough blood shed and troubles of the world and has thus no interest in guns and battles anymore.

Captain Kidd has now an out of the box kind of a job. He travels from place to place, and reads out interesting sections of news from around the world to the public. The public then gives him some money with which he keeps himself going. His news is like poetry. To the troubled lives of people habituated to anarchy or dictatorship, he reads news of Paris, of Calcutta, of strange climates, and of all the strange places his listeners could never have thought of. In his wagon, he tours the whole of Texas, with some newspapers and Johanna in order to reach San Antonio where Johanna’s relatives live.

I liked the book for few reasons. First being that prior to reading this book I had no idea of a war to have taken place in 1812 in America. Secondly I really liked the kind of job Captain Kidd takes up. I too would like to do that sometime in my life. And thirdly I observed that the book is a reflection of how children of war or battles loose their childhood and transform. The kids literally change from a blooming flower to a fallen leaf. The book also explores that it is only a soldier who has witnessed a war, to know what it feels like to loose his fellows and seniors. He knows and has seen that there is so much more to loose than win in fights.


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