The thing you have to understand about Patty Hearst, the reason that her fantastically sui generis story resonated so deeply within so many millions of ordinary American households, is that back then a lot of girls like her were disappearing. They were not California publishing heiresses, certainly; nor was the agency of their disappearance abduction at gunpoint. But disappear they did. One moment their lives could be summed up in a series of photographs not so different from the ones flashed on the nightly news over and over again: Patty in a first-communion dress at age 8; smiling with her gaggle of glossy-haired sisters as a young adolescent; sitting quietly—dreamily, inwardly—on the floor beside her mother's chair as a teenager, staring off into the mists of girl land. And the next moment—gone.