Kidnapped: Or, the Lad with the Silver Button

Kidnapped: Or, the Lad with the Silver Button

3.8 137
by Robert Louis Stevenson

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A finely honed, stirring adventure about the orphan David Balfour, who is kidnapped by his villainous uncle and escapes through the Scottish highlands, only to become involved in the Scottish struggle for independence. This edition features a new introduction by Margot Livesey.  See more details below


A finely honed, stirring adventure about the orphan David Balfour, who is kidnapped by his villainous uncle and escapes through the Scottish highlands, only to become involved in the Scottish struggle for independence. This edition features a new introduction by Margot Livesey.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Modern Library Classics Series
Edition description:
2001 MODER
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction by Margot Livesey


When I was growing up in Scotland, Robert Louis Stevenson was the first author whom I knew by name, and he remains the only one whom I can truthfully claim to have been reading all my life. From an early age, my parents read to me from A Child's Garden of Verses, and I soon learned some of the poems by heart.

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.

Perhaps I recognized, even then, Stevenson's unique gift for keeping a foot in two camps. While the poems vividly captured my childish concerns, somewhere in the margins shimmered the mystery of adult life. A few years later Kidnapped was the first chapter book I read, and I can still picture the maroon binding and the black-and-white drawings that illustrated David Balfour's adventures. At the age of seven, a book without pictures would have been out of the question, but, in fact, they turned out to be superfluous. I could imagine everything that happened just from the words on the page, although I must admit to the small advantage that the view from my bedroom window—bare hills, rocks, heather—was very much like the landscape of Kidnapped.

At first glance such early acquaintance might seem like a good omen for an author's reputation. In actuality, that Stevenson is so widely read by children has tended to make him seem like an author from who, as adults, we have little to learn. It is worth noting that his contemporaries would not have shared this prejudice. Nineteenth-century readers did not regard children's books as separate species. Stevenson's own father often reread The Parent's Assistant, a volume of children's stories, and Leslie Stephen, Virginia Woolf's father, writes of staying up late to finish Treasure Island.

Like the shadow of his poem, Stevenson's reputation has waxed and waned at an alarming rate. He died in a blaze of hagiography, which perhaps in part explains the fury of later critics. F.R. Leavis in The Great Tradition dismisses Stevenson (in a footnote, no less) as a romantic writer, guilty of fine writing, and in general Stevenson has not fared as well as his friend Henry James. People comment with amazement that Borges and Nabokov praised his novels. Still, his best work has remained in print for over a hundred years, and his is among that small group of authors to have given a phrase to the language: Jekyll and Hyde.

Besides our perception of Stevenson as a children's author, two other factors may have contributed to his ambiguous reputation. Although his list of publications is much longer than most people realize—he wrote journalism and travel pieces for money—he failed to produce a recognizable oeuvre, a group of works that stand together, each resonating with the others. In addition, the pendulum of literary taste has swung in a direction that Stevenson disliked and was determined to avoid: namely, pessimism. After reading The Portrait of a Lady he wrote to James begging him to write no more such books, and while he admired the early work of Thomas Hardy, he hated the darker Tess of the d'Urbervilles. The English writer John Galsworthy commented memorably on this aspect of Stevenson when he said that the superiority of Stevenson over Hardy was that Stevenson was all life, while Hardy was all death.

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Kidnapped 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 137 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it was a very good story and wasn't sure what the writing from that period would be like. I am very happy that I took the chance and downloaded the story. I usually read fiction crime thrillers and this book kept my attention and I read it as quickly as I do my other choices. The story follows a nice line and gives a nice packaged ending that one would expect, no real twists or anything of that kind.
DerMeister More than 1 year ago
Stevenson, well within his element in regards to the setting, re-demonstrates his mastery as a storyteller with Kidnapped; but unlike his works such as Treasure Island this compelling adventure story's plot and thematic elements are woven in the context of a real historical conflict. Through this spirited depiction of the Whig vs. Jacobite struggle, Stevenson is definitely trying to redeem the image of the Highlands that the English had strived so hard to tarnish back in his day. This is totally comprehensible in characters like Alan and James of the Glens who both exhibit noble manners and honor that was allegedly uncharacteristic of catholic scots in the 1700s. What's truly interesting in this book, however, is the centrality of the unlikely friendship between David Balfour and Alan Stewart. Despite their incredibly divergent upbringings (a rebellious catholic highlander and a goody-good protestant whig) they are able to transcend their own misapprehensions and prevail over the sprawling cast of cutthroats looking to sell them into bondage. Throughout this plot steeped in treachery and redemption, there are instances of benevolence and compassion revealed by the majority of misfortunes they experience, like when Alan loses their money to Cluny MacPherson. I think it's inventive how he uses the screw-ups to shed light on how important it is to swallow pride and resolve problems with the people you truly respect. I was also impressed with how the events of the story also preserved the importance of virtues like loyalty and valor, which surface from time to time in the highlander characters such as Macrob who continue the resistance for justice against English oppressors. Another entertaining aspect of the story is Stevenson's use of motifs in tying together its major plot elements. Much like the "hands" motiff in Treasure Island, Stevenson is very consistent in using themes like inheritance, especially primogeniture, to impress upon the reader what was principal or significant back in those times. All and all, it is a very exciting read and especially appealing to anyone of Scottish descent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt the urge to write this reveiew after reading one written March 21, 2011, in which the writer of the review was reading Kidnapped for school, and complained of the length (236 pages) and the oldfashioned writing. I have two things to say to that. One, when was written people, as individuals were much smarter than they are now, being able to read very complex books with difficult language, and comprehend them perfectly. Two, I happen to have read Nicholas Nickelby by Charles Dickens, which for your information is 755 pages long and i read it cover to cover. I am twelve. For those who want to know whether this is a good book or not, I highly reccomend it. Best of luck on your own readinging adventure! SGP
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best audio books I have ever heard. The narration is outstanding and great theater. The old English is beautiful (the old English is readily understood with a little thought - if the language daunts you, you might enjoy instead 'Goodnight Moon'.)
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book really touched my heart
squeelee More than 1 year ago
The story moves along and is so well told, I felt as though I were witnessing it first hand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was the most boring book I have ever read. I get it that it is old English but the spelling could have been better. Any English teacher would have a field day with this one. Really bad
Anonymous 18 days ago
Anonymous 24 days ago
Nice story want to be nook friends?
Anonymous 24 days ago
Rossette looked around happily. She breathed in the lovely feeling of Spring, and smiled. Spring was her favourite time of year! She saw the green grass bending in the slightly cool breeze, the water in a nearby river sang a merry song as the birds flapped gaily along with the flitting butterflies. <p> She was slightly aware of somebody following her, but she paid that nearly no attention, because she was busy enjoying the last day of Spring. <p> She took a quick look at her watch, and slung her backpack over one shoulder and ran to school. <p> She arrived, breathless. Nobody was in the playground. 'Am I late?' She wondered. She ventured into the hallway, and saw nobody there either. 'Oh no! I AM late! Should I hide?' She stuffed her belongings into her locker, and ran towards the empty staircase. 'Goodness me! What will the teacher say if...' and there she stopped, for all the lights went out. An eerie silence filled the hall, and she hear a voice. <p> " shall make a lovely ghost, and your head shall look lovely on my wall..." <p> Then, she blacked out. <p> ---+++---+++---+++---+++---+++---+++---+++ <p> THANKS FOR READING PART ONE!!!!!!!!! Please tell me if you would like part two. Comments are welcome. By:Grey bytheway part two will till be here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book and it is very good
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stays here to stay away from her husband and the deer
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to pick a book on a list i was given to in class and then write an essay on the book i read, if the book was classic or not. I didnt want to read this book at 1st but i couldnt put the book down once i started. I loved this book it might seem odd but it was really good. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book really doesn't require a big introduction, it's a timeless classic that has lasted through the years. To the 8th grader would rather drink poison than read this book. I'm 62 years old and I first read this book when I was 4years old. As one ages they find old books like these to be companions and friends. I'm sorry you feel forced to read such treasured book. However, I've found that if I just read the book, I'll get involved in it and start to enjoy it. Sort of like the twilight books that I would rather eat glass than be forced to read them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She looked at emberkit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting historical novel about the Scottish rebellion under Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually enjoyed this book. It captures the minds of adults and children. I had to read this for my english class, before i read it, i was full of dread. Now, it might be one of my favorite books! Well done, Mr. Stevenson, they don't make books like this anymore!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago