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

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  572 ratings  ·  129 reviews
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-y
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published August 14th 2012 by Free Press (first published January 10th 2012)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  572 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
this one is near & dear to my heart... Julia Anderson was my great-grandmother, Bruce Anderson my great-uncle, and Bernice my beloved Grandma <3 thanks, Tal & Margaret, for telling this story!
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
An interesting story.
A sad story.
I commend the authors for their extensive research, unfortunately, the tedious, tiresome, insignificant trivia tangled and confused the details. By mid-book, I was exhausted; worn to a raveling. Surely, the behemoth of biographic references could have been edited and presented in a sensible manner.
Two lost little boys.
My heart ached for Bruce... the horrific ordeal he had to indure to become the manifestation of Bobby. My heart broke for (the real) Bobby, the
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, true-crime
In 1912, Bobby Dunbar, aged four, went camping and fishing with his parents, Percy and Lessie Dunbar, and his younger brother, Alonzo. They are a part of a group of people enjoying the fishing at Lake Swayze in Louisiana. Despite the large number of people present, Bobby vanishes without a trace. After an exhaustive eight month search, a boy answering to Bobby's description is found in the company of an old man named William Walters. Walters insists that the child is actually Bruce Anderson, ill ...more
Alesha Cary
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There are few stories the degree of compelling emotion than this one... two mothers, two little boys, both missing, only one is found. But who can claim the the prize?

Told with a reporter's eye for detail, this doesn't read like a novel - rather a Dateline episode, perhaps. Its portrayal of the characters reveals them to be not characters at all, but people. This is a painful story. As a mother, my heart broke for both women, having lost their sons. I was angry at the injustice, and I was torn
Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it
I received this book from GoodReads in hardback.

It would have been much better with better editing. I feel that this book is too drawn out and repetitious for me to recommend it. I thought I would never get done and only finished it because I wanted to know which mother this little boy belonged with; and I refuse to ever read the ending of a book before reading the rest. I could see that the proof and the trial were what the author apparently wanted to dwell on. However, I feel more attention s
Evelyn Switzer
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have no idea how I never heard this story before. This book reads like a dateline mystery and I am so glad for DNA testing that we finally find out after 100 years who this child is. This book is so worth a read.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Youshau by: Ichar
Shelves: epubs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book in a good reads giveaway.

I normally like books about true stories, but I like to enjoy books when I read them. This book seemed like I was reading a textbook and found myself re-reading paragraphs and pages to understand who people were and how they related to the story. It was obvious that the author did her research and that's why I gave this book 2 stars. I felt sorry for the little boy Bobby/Bruce on how he was displayed by his parents without thought to his traumatization. I
May 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018

Incredibly thorough, well-written, and cited! As someone who has spent hundreds of hours poring over newspapers and documents to uncover every tiny piece of my own family history, I enjoyed the read, though the actual events - like the "trials" - were infuriating. For as screwed up as our courts are today, they used to be even worse. Knowing ahead of time that Bobby was in fact Bruce made me all the more incensed over the sloppy work they did back in 1913 - making up quotes, tricking po
Laura Zimmerman
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
First, I should note that I received this book for free from First Reads through Good Reads. In the spirit of First Reads I'll do my best to capture my thoughts about the book.

I commend the authors for the exhaustive research they did for this book. Prior to entering the drawing for the book I had never heard of this particular kidnapping and was interested to see how well such an event could be presented so long after the fact. The authors clearly spent a great deal of time doing research and i
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is rare that I find a book just completely and totally riveting. This one I had difficulty putting down; I found myself reading "just one more" page as I was wearing my coat and just about to head out the door, almost late for an appointment. Granted, that only happened twice because I finished the whole thing in under two days. I had heard the "This American Life" story, "The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar," so I ALREADY KNEW what was going to happen. And yet I still felt a little breathless reading ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a real life story with roots in Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina. It is a story of love and need of two mothers who claim a child as theirs. Each mother had different backgrounds but each had love for the child, and each wanted and needed to be his mother. Life for the child, Bobby Dunbar, was a difficult journey in which he wondered who he was. The book follows Bobby from a child to a man with a family of his own. The choices he made and the man he became. There are three prma ...more
Feb 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating topic; needed better execution. A story of a real-life kidnapping from 1912; a child disappears on a family camping trip in Louisiana and turns up 8 months later in the company of a traveling handyman, who swears that the boy is not the missing child, but was knowingly given to him by another woman, the boy's real mother. The boy was raised by the family who "lost" him, but for the rest of his life questions persist about his true identity.

A fascinating story about the nature of iden
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"A Case for Solomon: Bobby Dunbar and the Kidnapping That Haunted a Nation" is an excellent true story of a man who as a child was dragged through events mysterious, tramatic, and harrowing who became someone most of us can simily admire. Tal McThenia and Margaret Dunbar Cutright spent years researching this incrediable story of a child lost and a man selfmade. It is also book of a nation divided by a very personal story and the indictment the powerful use of the press to sway public opinion in ...more
Aug 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
`This story was so intense that I couldn't wait to finish the book and had to look online who the boy belonged to. Even knowing the answer, I still read the book with the same intensity because I wanted to know where everyone ended up. The book does a great job presenting every side in this multi-faceted case, from the two mothers who came from two completely different backgrounds, to the alleged kidnapper who's life depended on the identity of the boy and the role of the newspapers and press wh ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Story of what is known about the early 1900’s case of a young boy who goes missing - of a boy found - and how the justice system and press, instead of working to determine who the boy really was, worked very hard to ensure that the boy would go to the wealthier parents. As in the biblical case of Solomon, the true mother focused on what was best for her child. Almost a century later, DNA tests finally gives the family the proof they crave.
Ellen Doskey
Sep 11, 2012 rated it did not like it
Still have not finished this one. It is very interesting story about solve a true crime/mystery before modern technology - not even good photographs of the missing boy. But the writing is very slow. It repeats all of the old newspaper articles without making it fun to read. I do want to know the ending... I guess I could just google it?
Dec 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
I'm having a hard time finishing this book, although I want to find out which parents the child really belongs to. I can't stand reading books that describe the details of every flower, every article of clothing that everyone wears, the color of carpet in each room of the house. This book could have been one-fourth the length and been just as effective. Way too many unnecessary details. ...more
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
The story here is very interesting; however, the level of detail the authors included in this book made it something I cannot recommend. This was a 15-minute tale that took 15 days to tell. Great story, told in an agonizing manner.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I didn't give this a rating because I didn't finish it. I think it's a great story and I skimmed through a lot of the book because it was just so detailed. Too much little stuff to maintain my overall interest. ...more
Feb 13, 2014 added it
This is a very interesting book, showing the influence of local and state politics and the media on a court case 100 years ago. This book shows that, in these areas, things were just as corrupt then as now.
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I found this book to be too wordy and boring for my liking. Truthfully, I skipped over a great deal if it. My thought is that no matter whose son Bobby was, there was another son who is gone.
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Great potential POOR execution. Drawn out, overly long, not very well written. Great research.
Katherine Addison
Mar 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book about the Bobby Dunbar kidnapping case. (One of the co-writers is Bobby Dunbar's granddaughter.) It's beautifully and carefully written, exhaustive in its research, and as empathetic as possible with all sides.

(Short version: Bobby Dunbar, age 4, disappeared in 1912. In 1913, his (middle to upper-middle class) parents claimed a child found with an itinerant tinker as Bobby, even though the child had a well-attested (rural poor) identity as Bruce Anderson. W. C. Walters,
Sarah Beth
In 1912, a four year old little boy named Bobby Dunbar went missing in the Louisiana swamps. When his body wasn't found, authorities began to wonder if the boy had possibly been kidnapped. What followed was a national search that spanned eight months. Then a wandering piano tuner was arrested with a small boy in his possession who seemed to match the description of Bobby. The Dunbars rushed to meet the boy and after some initial hesitation claimed the boy was their son Bobby. But a single mother ...more
Jun 06, 2021 rated it liked it
Sometime in my 2021 reading, I came upon a reference of this book and it sounded interesting so I ordered a copy. While I did find it interesting, the farther I got into it, I felt like it was way too wordy. My thought was, "this book needs a good editor." The story in the book is 386 pages long and it kind of bounces back and forth with questions - is he or is he not the right child. One's mind flips back/forth - yes, it could be him, no it can't be him. It is so detailed with names, places, da ...more
Lydia Cox
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bc-fremont
Very interesting story about a 1912 disappearance and the trial where the identity of the 'found' boy was questioned. Bobby Dunbar goes missing during a family picnic. Nine months later, a boy is found in the company of a drifter. The Dunbars are sure it is their lost son; the drifter and his parents' caregiver insist it is her son. Through the next year, the beliefs of both mothers are questioned, with plenty of witnesses on both sides to attest to the 'real' identity of the boy.
The story itse
Wanda Keith
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was an excellent story idea but very badly written. The story is about a young child who disappeared and how it was believed by many that he had been kidnapped. The search was on and a child was found with a man who appeared to be physically abusing the child. The child looked a lot like the child who disappeared and it wasn't long before two mothers were saying the child was theirs. The book drags on in the telling and events are rehashed over and over. I found myself skimming many pages j ...more
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
An enormously interesting story. However the book was a very tedious effort due to the long drawn out read, i almost gave up on EVER finishing
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Last Years Best Read 3 5 Jun 27, 2014 09:16PM  

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