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Publisher's Summary

"The Ransom of Red Chief" may be the most widely read story in grammar, middle, and high school. Young people can relate to 10-year-old Red Chief, his father who makes the kidnappers pay him back in order to take Red Chief off their hands (plus come in darkness so others don’t jail them), and all the antics and excitement of it all. It is not read or heard widely after one leaves high school, which is a shame, because it is such a magical story about expectations being crushed by realities, and the turn of events, which O. Henry was so masterful at achieving, as in "The Gift of the Magi", the other best known O. Henry story, which Simply has also recorded.

,p>The humor here is Southwestern style, with some of the violence similar to that frontier humor immortalized by Mark Twain. O. Henry spent time in Texas on various speculations and, in fact, wound up in a Texas jail for three years before coming to New York and prospering with his unique storytelling ability. The Texas influence is strongly felt here, not just in Southwestern humor, but the sense of space and vistas, with few people populating them.

A final thought for the listener: Is there anyone similar to O. Henry in style? We can’t think of anyone, and that is another reason to listen to these stories. We believe most Southwestern humor in short stories is even better heard than read.

As with all Simply short stories, you should enjoy the ideas put forth in the introduction and afterword.

Public Domain (P)2011 Christina Brown

What members say

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Do not buy this rendition!

What did you like best about The Ransom of Red Chief? What did you like least?

I love this O. Henry classic. As always the irony of the characters and story line is entertaining.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Ransom of Red Chief?

Poor Bill is abused time after time by Red Chief. When he is the "hoss" for their excursion, Bill finally loses his patience and feels that he has finally triumphed.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Deaver Brown?

I would have cast anyone but this narrator. He stumbles over and mispronounces words. A large portion of sentences are left out. I tried to use this with my class, but after a couple of paragraphs gave up.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

I would definitely go see the movie.

Any additional comments?

Audible needs to preview all material before putting out for the public.

  • Overall
  • Performance
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Hilarious proverb

This makes for side-splitting reading and, had the narrator been a smoother reader, would have been an even better listen.

No one can be less than delighted with Johnny, and we have to admit that Sam & Bill got more than their just desserts!

  • Overall
  • K. Gill
  • Richmond, BC, Canada
  • 05-17-11

A gem of a story, but with edits

"The Ransom of Red Chief" is one of O. Henry's best-known short stories, with a plot that's easy to follow, but enough amusing twists, sparkling imagery, and oblique references to entertain adults as well as children.

The narrator has the perfect voice for reading this tale; I only wish that his presentation had been a bit more polished. There are a couple of pauses where he seems to stumble over a word, and his phrasing is occasionally a bit off. Also, although the text is unabridged, it has been edited - some words have been replaced with simpler or less offensive options ("undeleterious" becomes "harmless", "philoprogenitiveness" becomes "family ties", and the n-word is gone completely). Although I can understand the removal of "n*ggerhead" (an adjective used to describe a rock), I was disappointed that some of the more challenging vocabulary has also been removed. One of the joys of reading, for me, is the discovery of new words, and the enjoyment of the author's use of them. If I could find a version that I'm sure is unedited, I think I would purchase it, instead of this one.