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Cabbages and Kings

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  741 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
A series of stories which each explore some individual aspect of life in a paralytically sleepy Central American town while each advancing some aspect of the larger plot and relating back one to another in a complex structure which slowly explicates its own background even as it painstakingly erects a town which is one of the most detailed literary creations of the period. ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published November 3rd 2006 by Hard Press (first published 1904)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,411)
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May 03, 2011 Christopherseelie rated it really liked it
A fairly well-knit collection of short stories, each displaying O. Henry's knack for concealing while he puts on a show. The book has a comic portrayal of the tropics, both its volatile political climate and its meteorological one. The book shows its age by opining race-based comments about the inhabitants, but the white characters don't exactly get the buff and polish either.
Sam Walker
Aug 07, 2015 Sam Walker rated it really liked it
This has got to be among the best reads describing the odd friendship between colonialism and business interests, staged on the backdrop of Latin America, with the original banana republic of Anchuria. I landed up reading this after I learnt that this is where the term banana republic originated from. A free copy on Project Gutenberg and I could not stop reading this book once I started.

In fact, while Sidney Porter (aka O.Henry) wrote this mainly about the fruit companies in USA (think of Dole f
Minoy Jose
Mar 24, 2014 Minoy Jose rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of O Henry, Early 20th century English lovers
When I started with this collection of inter-connected short stories, I was not very impressed. I could not find the charm and attraction that I found in his other famous short stories like the very well known 'The Gift of the Magi'. But slowly and surely, this collection slipped a tight grip around me. I started enjoying his wit and got adjusted to the archaic English. Although it did slow me down a lot, because I cannot proceed without knowing the meaning :) the archaic English as well as the ...more
A collection of stories set in a fictional "banana republic" of Anchuria, likely modeled after Honduras, where the author, O. Henry, spent some time evading the law after embezzlement and tax evasion charges. The characters are largely American businessmen and government officials, who are all to happy to pull fast cons and loaf about in hammocks, pining for their lost loves and failed dealings in the States. There is humor, primarily slapstick style, in the vaudevillian antics of the expats. Th ...more
Apr 20, 2011 Mickey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting collection of stories. The setting is the same throughout-a small coastal town in South America- with the same cast of characters-expatriates who have found themselves living there. All the characters are disreputable, on-the-make shysters with the slang usually found in old mobster movies. This is contrasted with the epic, high-flown language of the narration, which adds an extra layer of plain ridiculousness and sly humor. I enjoyed reading this, but, except for a few r ...more
Mar 15, 2013 Erskine rated it it was amazing
This is by far my favorite short story collection by O. Henry. The tales take place in the same locale, a fictitious banana republic of the American tropics. There is an over-arcing plot that runs through the stories, concerning the ruling potentate's abdication and sudden departure with the nation's treasury funds, creating a mystery that isn't solved until the final vignette. Along the way, we meet an amusing cast of characters, each one with his own colorful background. The best part of the b ...more
Harker US Library
Oct 28, 2014 Harker US Library rated it it was ok
You’ve probably heard of O. Henry, the early twentieth-century American author of countless humorous short stories. And the phrase “cabbages and kings” will ring a bell to anyone who’s familiar with Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poems. (One of his most famous, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” promises to tell the story of “shoes and ships and sealing-wax / And cabbages and kings.”) But you’ve almost certainly never heard them in combination, since Henry’s collection of closely interrelated short stori ...more
Mar 22, 2014 Abby rated it liked it
First of all, O. Henry is a brilliant writer, which is why I read this collection in the first place. I remembered a short story called A Retrieved Reformation that I read in high school, I found the story and read it and found it as brilliant as I remembered, then (since O. Henry wrote it) I decided to read some more.
Cabbages and Kings wasn't terrific, though the writing is terrific. The stories were a little lackluster. They followed various inhabitants of a port city in the tropical Republic
Robert Stewart
Jan 01, 2015 Robert Stewart rated it really liked it
I love O. Henry. He had a unique grammar and diction. This book is a chain a short stories that could just as easily be called a novel. But I think the contrivances at the end, which are meant to tie the thing together, rather undermine the charm of the book.

Still, this is well worth reading. If for no other reason, it gives you a taste of what O'Henry's exile in Latin America was like.
Laura Verret
Feb 17, 2011 Laura Verret rated it it was ok
This is definitely not O. Henry at his best. His strength is with the individual short story - this book is a collection of short stories which is supposed to have a common thread. I began to enjoy the stories more when I stopped trying to fit them all together and read them simply as short stories, separate and distinct from one another. The resolution of the story was, I admit quite funny.
May 10, 2008 Robyne rated it it was amazing
This is one of my all-time favorite books, one that I re-read often. The language is brilliant and humorous, the setting is tropical, and the characters are memorable. Each chapter could stand alone as a short story, but they string together to form a novel. I read it when I need to remember that life shouldn't be taken quite so seriously. I can't recommend this one enough.
Jan 19, 2011 Wendybird rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A collection of stories with a common thread and an intriguing mystery at its outset. I thought the twist of the mystery trite although the clues were there and the pieces fit. But learning the resolution is nothing compared to O'Henry's brilliant storytelling. Will definitely read more O'Henry works.
Dec 02, 2008 Bill added it
Fun story full of vignettes revolving around this small banana republic. O'Henry has the best vocabulary I've ever read. He is also sort of racist in that 1915 sort of way regarding islanders, but not as bad as I would've expected.
Apr 29, 2016 Aleksandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-translation
Эту книгу стоит разделить на две части, потому как впечатление от них совершенно различное.

Роман-повесть "Короли и капуста" заставил меня продираться сквозь свои главы, как сквозь беспорядочно выросший лес то хвойный, то лиственный. Приличный налет политики давил, читалось тяжело, хотя слог приятен и сюжет, когда сможешь поймать его за хвост, в целом интересен.

Рассказы просто идеальны! Короткие истории о любви, о дружбе, верности, простых человеческих ценностях и счастливой жизни вопреки или нес
Jun 17, 2007 Gemma rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I probably should have loved this, but I just couldn't let myself enjoy it.
LadiesBookTea Since 1993
Also read other short stories by O. Henry
Mar 30, 2014 astaliegurec rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
O. Henry's "Cabbages and Kings" is yet another capital "L" piece of Literature that surprised me by actually being good. Theoretically, I guess it's supposed to be 18 (or 19 since the first isn't numbered) short stories. But, the stories are intertwined and tell one overall story. So, in that sense, it's actually a novel. Anyway, it's nicely written with interesting characters and wonderful descriptions. The stories are sort of tongue-in-cheek and there's a nice twist at the end. I rate it at a ...more
Laurie Tomchak
May 22, 2013 Laurie Tomchak rated it liked it
As one who is not a fan of short stories, I came to this book, termed a novel, with some eagerness to experience O. Henry in a more extended form. I was somewhat disappointed because the volume was actually a collection of short stories with a common theme, that of political events in Honduras seen from a "gringo" point of view. O. Henry's style is lively, and one learns a lot about U.S. society of the fin de siecle. One does not learn that much about Honduras, but that is probably not too surpr ...more
Maria E
Apr 19, 2016 Maria E rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, audiobooks
Although it appears as a collection of short stories, it all hooks together. And is complete with that O. Henry twist at the end.
Ndiritu Wahome
Feb 07, 2014 Ndiritu Wahome rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Ndiritu by: Ndiritu
A very intriguing book. I wrote the full review here: http://thesadartistandotherfairytales...
Andrea Turner
I wish I had gone at this book from the beginning as a collection of loosely interconnected short stories. It would have made the book more enjoyable from the beginning. I would also like to say that I didn't expect the events of the last chapter until they unfolded.
Rob Mills
Apr 06, 2015 Rob Mills rated it really liked it
O Henry is always such a pleasure to read, though he does challenge your lexicon (well.. mine at least), which I consider good for ones mental constitution.
Anyway, a very languid read that outlines the most amazing stories one could imagine about the tropics. The book is essentially a series of short stories with one or two threads tying it all together. The stories get better as you get deeper and there are two fantastic twists, one comedic and one perhaps dramatic, that were very satisfying.
Don Gubler
Aug 18, 2014 Don Gubler rated it liked it
Nice stories in the O. Henry style with nice connections.
Feb 12, 2014 Mark rated it it was ok
The author's stamp is definitely here. His tongue in cheek observations and turns of phrase are as effective as ever. This complex hybrid of short story and novel, however, can be hard to follow and isn't always as satisying as his famous short stories. Maybe as a reader I'm conditioned a more forumlaic payoff from O. Henry and this, being a different animal, didn't come off the same. An interesting and imaginative read nonetheless.
Henry, O.
The Complete Works of O. Henry

In compilation only.

1) The Poem: By the Carpenter
2) "Fox-in-the-Morning"
3) The Lotus and the Bottle
4) Smith
5) Caught
6) Cupid's Exile Number
7) Two
8) The Phonograph and the Graft
9) Money Maze
10) The Admiral
11) The Flag Paramount
12) The Shamrock and the Palm
13) The Remnants of the Code
14) Shoes
15) Ships
16) Masters of Arts
17) Dicky
18) Rouge et Noir
19) Two Recalls
20) The Vitagraphoscope
Aug 15, 2012 Dorer002 rated it liked it
O. Henry's style can be hard to get into, and the story is not even close to linear, but the twists are always too good to miss! The book had hit or miss stories, but It was interesting to read them as a "novel" since that is unique for Henry. It's not his best work, but it was satisfying (if a binturong hard to follow)
Jul 26, 2013 Nancy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drunks
I have a hard time not finishing a book. I read this one chapter at a time, and I was glad when I came to the end. I had better hopes from an O' Henry book, but I was disappointed. There are a lot of lazy drunken men. There were Greedy Government leaders. People stealing money. Not my favorite kind of book.
O.Henry at his worst set of short stories. I couldnt find a relation between the stories as there was supposed to be some relation somewhere as i had heard. Only thing was stories drifted from one person to other with some small link, but totally there was no sense in any story. Well i read 50 % :(
Sep 02, 2008 Kandice rated it it was ok
I generally love Henry. This one feels a bit much. I am struggling through it, as I hate to leave a book unread. Maybe the trick with O. Henry is small doeses, but since these stories all tie together, I don't feel I can read one or two and then come back later. I feel pressed to finish.
Leslie Remer
Jun 02, 2013 Leslie Remer rated it liked it
I thought this book was very interesting in the way it was written. It's a series of short stories that run together like a novel, but if I hadn't read that I wouldn't have realized it. I would have thought it was a novel. Great feel for tropical living. I enjoyed it.
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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 about O. Henry...

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“it shall be a duty and a pleasing sport to wander with Momus beneath the tropic stars where Melpomene once stalked austere.” 1 likes
“In front the sea was spread, a smiling jailer, but even more incorruptible than the frowning mountains.” 0 likes
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