American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin

To members of my generation, the name Patty Hearst rings all kinds of bells. She is the granddaughter of one of the richest men the world has ever known, William Randolph Hearst. She is also the subject of one of the most famous photos ever taken. Patty is the poster child for Stockholm Syndrome and of course, one of the world’s most famous kidnapping victims at the young age of 19. American Heiress is Toobin’s attempt to describe the events of February 1974 that still fascinate people today.

While later generations will think of Elizabeth Smart when talking about women and girls who were stolen from their homes and kept for long periods of time, Patty Hearst was the original. I very much enjoyed reading this account of her ordeal from an older, wiser perspective than when the event first happened. In an age when the rich and famous are often not held accountable for their bad behavior, I found I had a lot of problems with the standards Patty Hearst was held to. Jeffrey Toobin asks his readers: when can a kidnapping victim stop being a victim? Is it even possible?

~ Leslie W.