Ransom of Red Chief
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Ransom of Red Chief

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  2,798 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Bill and Sam arrive in the small American town of Summit with only two hundred dollars, but they need more and Sam has an idea for making a lot of money. When things start to go very wrong, both men soon regret their visit - and the idea.
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Published by Listening Library (first published 1910)
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Audrie
This short story is quick and to the point, and absolutely hilarious! Red Chief is such a cruel little boy, but you can't help but pity him because he's so distant from his father. How O. Henry came up with such an evil little boy and yet straight forward theme is beyond my understanding.
Becky
Loved this story as a kid when my Dad would read it aloud on family trips. Even better as a parent. Read this one!
John Yelverton
A hilarious story that is fun for every child and parent who reads this.
Realini
The Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry

You Must Read This: it is short, but packed full with fabulous, uproarious moments!!
This is hilarious and one of the funniest short stories I have read in quite a while.
“It looked like a good thing: but wait till I tell you. “
You are warned from the start and the plot is revealed in the next couple of sentences: Bill Driscoll and the narrator plan to kidnap a boy, who turns out to be Winnetou, Old Shatterhand and Dracula all mixed into one.
This brought to my m...more
Jennifer
This is one of my favorite short stories. Anyone who has children can appreciate this because I think that there hasn't been a time when we haven't thought like the father in this story. It is one of the funniest stories I have ever read.
Kathy Kaylor
I know this kid! Wait, I married him.
Ceci
This story is hilarious!!!!
Eustacia Tan
As you may have guessed, I've been trying to read different types of mysteries. And after searching for a long time, I finally found a caper mystery - The Ransom of Red Chief, a short story by O. Henry.

A caper mystery, if you don't know, is a mystery that features the criminals as the main story. In this story, the main characters are the two criminals Bill and Sam, who appear tough, but have their weak spot. Although in reality, I think that would be anyone's weak spot.

In this story, our two...more
Marcus Inglis
The authors purpose is to be careful what the choices you make. Two men Bill and Sam (Narrator) try to make easy money by holding a boy Johnny “Red Chief” hostage but ends up with a twist. The impacts on the audience hints them with is a dramatic cut. The story hints an ironic twist which tells Criminals making a plan but it turns out bad. I do think this story will have lasting value because there many stories that can relate to this story, like a similar book, news, or a movie. Although, movie...more
Shawn Thrasher
As familiar as this story is, I don't think I'd ever actually read it before now. As tired and stale as one would think it could become after a century and some change, it happily still is a fresh, funny short story. If course, the entire thing is one big joke, with the punchline waiting at the end. The whole Red Chief trope -kidnappers who regret their kidnapping of a brat who make their lives hell - is a familiar one that will morph and change with time and sitcom but keep coming back again an...more
Heather
Sep 27, 2012 Heather rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Heather by: Mother
I read this short story because my mother had mentioned this book to me one day, and how she read it when she was growing up. She said she could not stop laughing when she read it, it was so funny. So i decided to read it one day at barnes and noble. It took me a short time to read.
This story is a classic, and I recommend that everybody read it just for good knowledge and a good laugh...Although i was not laughing hysterically as my mother would when she read the book, it was quite funny. It ma...more
Keith
'The Ransom of Red Chief' was a short story written about 1907. I enjoyed this funny read in the 1960's. It has an entertaining twist at the its conclusion.
Lisa
Hilarious book

I Found this to be a hilarious that made me laugh. I know others will find it the same. Enjoy this when you get it.
1sarah4622
I read this book as a short story and i loved it. it had all of the thigns that a good book should have; comedy, action, and suspense. To sum up the story it is about 2 people who need money fast. so they plan to kidnapp the bank owners son. but yet do they know that he is a evil caniving little boy. so when they do take them they are in for a treat! And the book is about their journey. the reason for the title is becasue they told the little boy that he was the red chirf, and he is being held f...more
Brian Yahn
It's clever, humorous, and cute. The prose is a bit aged and sometimes a pain to read, but given the brevity, it's worth it.
HeavyReader
Dec 28, 2011 HeavyReader rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who think their kid is bad
Shelves: short-stories
When I was a kid, my sister and I had a big book that was a collection of short stories. Maybe it was from Reader's Digest. This story was in that big book. Or at least some version of this story was in that book. If the book was from Reader's Digest, it's likely the story was condensed. Isn't that what Reader's Digest is famous for?

In any case, I read this story out of the big book. I also remember the live action version of this story that used to play periodically on Saturday morning after th...more
Jithin James
Hilarious!!!

An outright 5*!! :)
John
A (dare I use the word?) cute kidnapping tale from yester-year. Told during a kinder, gentler era where the bad guys had ethics and morals, Bill and Alex don't even contemplate killing the monster instead of returning him to his father. When you contemplate that the kid tried to (literally) scalp Bill, I'm not sure I follow the thinking. If the father wouldn't pay to get his kid back, he clearly didn't want him that badly and everyone would have probably been happier if Red Chief had ended up in...more
Susan
Feb 23, 2011 Susan rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wanting/aching for a good story and laugh.
OooOohhh how the story easily reflects our little siblings. :)
THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF is about a little boy (aka "Red Chief") who is kidnapped by two men, Bill and Sam, who want to get money from the boy's father. However, once Bill and Sam holds the Red Chief hostage, things start running amuk when they get pranked and fooled by the Red Chief.
I definitely recommend this to all; it is a light, amusing read. (Not one of those long, droning, NJASKs or SATs short stories. ;))
Anne
If you have kids, you will recognize the kidnappers' plight. If you don't have kids, you will be reminded why.

Bonus: wonderful amount of slapstick for a book that predates what we think of as slapstick. This was written in 1910, no TV, and movies had not quite reached the golden age. I can find one tv movie based on the story, but no other adaptations (of course, many plotlines have borrowed heavily from this story).
Melissa
I read this years and years ago but I still laugh and love it today. I believe Disney made a movie about it and expanded upon the idea quite a bit--that might be why I love it so much. Sometimes while working with particulary "difficult and wonderful children" I secretly wonder, if kidnapped, would their parents pay the ransom? Hummmm...?
Ken Moten
The story is interesting. It goes from Crime/mystery to noir(parady). You start off obviously not being big fans of the protagonists, but by the end you really feel some tenderness for these guys, at least I know I did at the time I first read this.
David
Funny story with a great "O Henry ending", but it takes some suspension of belief. Does anyone believe that two men ruthless enough to kidnap a boy would be as passive in allowing him to reek havoc within their hideout to the extent he does?
Annie
The ransom of Red Chief is my favorite O. Henry story. I first read it as a teenager. Since I have several brothers, at least one of whom could be Red Chief's twin, I really related. This is one of the funniest short stories ever.
Dana
The book made me laugh a lot. Believe me, this book can embarrass you in public. Hope you get the warning and you veto your decision to read it in a cafe or a library. But, Gawd! The humor or The O.Henry humor is priceless.
Lizzie
Pretty certain that I read this in high school English class. I can recall the comic tone, antics, etc. I'm not sure I'd be that compelled to reread it, but if you stuck it in front of my eyeballs I'm sure it'd be okay.
Cheryl in CC NV
Love O.Henry. The insights make the stories really stick with me, even more than Mother Goose or Grimm. All three of my sons would also have caused kidnappers grief, though maybe not as much as this boy does.
Lynette ~ Escaping Reality – One Book at a Time ~
I didn't especially like this one, overall I thought it was kinda lame, but the ending was hilarious, and, I guess, for a school book, it was okay.

I'm 14, and I don't especially recommend this book/short story.
Samwise
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth
I loved this movie as a kid, so I was happy to discover it originated as a short story!
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8993
William Sydney Porter lends the pen name "O. Henry" to surprise endings signed officially as Sydney Porter. His biography shows where he found inspiration for his characters. Their voices and his language were products of his era.

He was born 1862 Greensboro, North Carolina. When he was three years old, his mother died from tuberculosis. He left school at fifteen, worked five years in uncle's drugs...more
More about O. Henry...
The Gift of the Magi Selected Stories The Best Short Stories of O. Henry The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories The Last Leaf

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