America’s first recorded ransom kidnapping- and the manhunt that shocked the world
In 1874, a little boy named Charley Ross was snatched from his family’s front yard in Philadelphia. A ransom note arrived the next day, demanding $20,000 for Charley’s return. The city was about the host America’s centennial celebration, and the mass panic surrounding the Charley Ross case jeopardized city politics and plunged the nation into hysteria.
The desperate search led the Philadelphia and New York police departments to inspect every building in Philadelphia, set up saloon surveillance in New York’s notorious Five Points neighborhood, and elicit citizens’ participation in a national manhunt. While the world followed the investigation through the press, Americans were simultaneously horrified and united in their efforts to find the boy and catch his kidnappers. The stolen chile called attention to an America that the approaching 1876 Centennial would not celebrate: a country propelled by industrialization, lost to consumer culture, and increasingly separated by class.
With white-knuckle suspense and historical detail, Hagen vividly captures the dark side of earlier America. Her brilliant portrayal of its criminal’s detectives, politicians, spiritualists, and ordinary families will stay with the reader long after the final page.
"As sad and unsettling this tale is, Hagen tells it with the splendidly compelling narrative momentum of a contemporary true-crime writer...."
"That the two events actually overlap is a writer's gift to Hagen, but more the result of her triple-threat skills as researcher, journalist and storyteller."
"Verdict: A must-read for those interested in true crime and law enforcement history."
"A slice of American crime history both instructive and tragically entertaining."
"Hagen's We Is Got Him chronicles an equally horrific, more heartbreaking, and tragically more relevant 19th century story, with characters only Dostoevsky could invent."