The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


On a bizarre and somewhat perplexing hunch Susan Orlean (writer for the New Yorker)decides to attend a court hearing for John Laroach, an orchid poacher accused of removing several endangered plants from the Fakhatchee, one Florida's most fertile swamplands. Orlean unravels a layered story and history of the orchid trade so baffeling that it is easy to forget that this is not a work of fiction. Although an arresting story of (at times possibly clinical) obsession, passion and beauty it does fall a bit on the lean side. Orlean depicts Laroach as such a fascinating individual then leaves loose ends. How is it that one can be so impassioned, enamored with something and then renounce it as Laroach does with his orchids? You don't have to be an orchid collector or even particularly like orchids for that matter to enjoy this book. "The Orchid Thief", is written with such a natural sensibility and intuition for the intrinsic qualities of people, the places they inhabit and the identities they establish through obsessive collection that it makes us question our own passions whether or not we collect anything at all.

Description


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
 
A modern classic of personal journalism, The Orchid Thief is Susan Orlean’s wickedly funny, elegant, and captivating tale of an amazing obsession. Determined to clone an endangered flower—the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii—a deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man named John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling subculture, through Florida’s swamps and beyond, along with the Seminoles who help him and the forces of justice who fight him. In the end, Orlean—and the reader—will have more respect for underdog determination and a powerful new definition of passion.
 
In this new edition, coming fifteen years after its initial publication and twenty years after she first met the “orchid thief,” Orlean revisits this unforgettable world, and the route by which it was brought to the screen in the film Adaptation, in a new retrospective essay.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.
 
Praise for The Orchid Thief
 
“Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean’s] gifts in full bloom.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Fascinating . . . an engrossing journey [full] of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Orlean’s snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“Orlean’s gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description.”Boston Sunday Globe
 
“A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great.”The Wall Street Journal

About the Author


Susan Orlean has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1992 and has also written for Outside, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Vogue. She graduated from the University of Michigan and was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She now lives in Los Angeles and upstate New York with her husband and son.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise For…


“Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean’s] gifts in full bloom.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Fascinating . . . an engrossing journey [full] of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Orlean’s snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“Orlean’s gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description.”Boston Sunday Globe
 
“A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great.”The Wall Street Journal


From the Hardcover edition.


Product Details
ISBN: 9780449003718
ISBN-10: 044900371X
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: January 4th, 2000
Pages: 320
Language: English
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