A Case for Solomon

A Case for Solomon

Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted A Nation

Book - 2012
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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.

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 exposé 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: New York : Free Press, 2012.
Edition: 1st Free Press hardcover ed.
ISBN: 9781439158593
Branch Call Number: 364.154 MCT
Characteristics: xx, 436 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Cutright, Margaret Dunbar


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Lost in the Stacks: A Case for Solomon

The little boy was stripped and examined, poked and prodded, questioned and coaxed – was he or was he not the missing Bobby Dunbar? (more)

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Nov 28, 2015

What would happen if a four year old child was kidnapped and then found a year later? Would they remember their former life? Would they know their family? How would this affect the rest of your life? In August of 1912, Bobby Dunbar went missing from his families cabin and the search found nothing. No child, no body, no clothes, in fact, no other clues. As the months dragged on, his parents kept up hope that somehow he could be found. But in 1912-13, there were no coordinated procedures in place to deal with such a situation. When a child is spotted the authorities were unable to move fast enough to get to the child. Then when they finally put two and two together they pounced on an old tinker who had a child with him. But was this child the missing Bobby or another child? It wouldn't be until a hundred years later that DNA testing would finally answer the question. Written by a granddaughter of Bobby Dunbar, this nonfiction account reads like fiction, it is so unbelievable.

Mar 18, 2014

a tediously meticulous retelling of a potentially riveting drama, you also know the outcome at the beginning, which takes all the juice out of the tale, one about American frontier justice and its consequences


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