A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation

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A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation

Format:  Hardcover,

436 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publish Date: Aug 2012

ISBN-13: 9781439158593

ISBN-10: 1439158592

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The following content was provided by the publisher.
"A CASE FOR SOLOMON: BOBBY DUNBAR AND THE KIDNAPPING THAT HAUNTED A NATION "chronicles one of the most celebrated--and most misunderstood--kidnapping cases in American history. In 1912, four-year-old Bobby Dunbar, the son of an upper-middle-class Louisiana family, went missing in the swamps. After an eight-month search that electrified the country and destroyed Bobby's parents, the boy was found, filthy and hardly recognizable, in the pinewoods of southern Mississippi. A wandering piano tuner who had been shuttling the child throughout the region by wagon for months was arrested and charged with kidnapping--a crime that was punishable by death at the time. But when a destitute single mother came forward from North Carolina to claim the boy as "her "son, not Bobby Dunbar, the case became a high-pitched battle over custody--and identity--that divided the South.
Amid an ever-thickening tangle of suspicion and doubt, two mothers and a father struggled to assert their rightful parenthood over the child, both to the public and to themselves. For two years, lawyers dissected and newspapers sensationalized every aspect of the story. Psychiatrists, physicians, criminologists, and private detectives debated the piano tuner's guilt and the boy's identity. And all the while the boy himself remained peculiarly guarded on the question of who he was. It took nearly a century, a curiosity that had been passed down through generations, and the science of DNA to discover the truth.
"A Case for Solomon "is a gripping historical mystery, distilled from a trove of personal and archival research. The story of Bobby Dunbar, fought over by competing New Orleans tabloids, the courts, and the citizenry of two states, offers a case study in yellow journalism, emergent forensic science, and criminal justice in the turn-of-the-century American South. It is a drama of raw poverty and power and an expose of how that era defined and defended motherhood, childhood, and community. First told in a stunning episode of National Public Radio's "This American Life, A Case for Solomon "chronicles the epic struggle to determine one child's identity, along the way probing unsettling questions about the formation of memory, family, and self.


Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: Aug 2012
ISBN-13: 9781439158593
ISBN-10: 1439158592
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 436
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.45
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.5 x 9.5 x 1.5
Walmart No.: 9781439158593


Review by Library Journal (2012-06-01)

The kidnapping of Bobby Dunbar will never be as famous as the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, but his story is compelling in its own right. Coauthored by Cutright, Dunbar's supposed granddaughter, and McThenia, who reported on the story for This American Life, the book begins in 1912 when four-year-old Bobby was kidnapped in Louisiana during a camping trip and miraculously discovered months later in Mississippi. It concludes shortly after 2004, when DNA test results confirmed that the child claimed as Bobby Dunbar was in actuality the son of single mother Judith Anderson.

The book also covers the trial of the accused kidnapper, William Walters, as well as the fate of the real Bobby Dunbar. Cutright's firsthand knowledge not only of the personalities involved but also of the repercussions these events had on two families is a great benefit.

Verdict: Much of this book retells the story of how a small boy could be taken from his mother and placed with another family despite his own recollections. A solid read that provides plenty of food for thought, especially for those interested in children's rights.

-Reba Kennedy, San Antonio

(c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

A Case for Solomon tells the spellbinding story of one of the most celebrated kidnapping cases in American history, and a haunting family mystery that took almost a century to solve.

In 1912, four-year-old Bobby Dunbar, the son of an upper middle-class Louisiana family, went missing in the swamps. Eight months later, he was miraculously found in the company of a wandering piano-tuner, William Walters, who was arrested and tried for kidnapping. But when Julia Anderson, a destitute single mother, came forward to claim the boy was actually her son, Bruce, the case exploded. Which family did he really belong to?

The boy grew up as Bobby Dunbar and raised a family of his own. In 2000, his granddaughter, coauthor Margaret Dunbar Cutright, began to dig into the legend. After years of research, debate, and a DNA test, the truth finally emerged: her grandfather was Bruce Anderson, who had been legally kidnapped by the Dunbars. For Margaret’s family, it was a wrenching blow. For the descendants of Julia Anderson and William Walters who had known the truth all along, the news brought comfort and vindication.

First told in a stunning episode of Public Radio’s This American Life, A Case for Solomon incorporates family and archival research to weave a unique, gripping drama of family and childhood, class and power. It is the story of an epic struggle to determine one boy’s identity that raises unsettling questions about the formation of self.

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