The Orchid Thief
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The Orchid Thief

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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
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Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 138.68 x 207.26 x 17.78mm | 285.76g
  • Ballantine Books Inc.
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 044900371X
  • 9780449003718
  • 182,022

Flap copy

In Susan Orlean's mesmerizing true story of beauty and obsession is John Laroche, a renegade plant dealer and sharply handsome guy, in spite of the fact that he is missing his front teeth and has the posture of al dente spaghetti. In 1994, Laroche and three Seminole Indians were arrested with rare orchids they had stolen from a wild swamp in south Florida that is filled with some of the world's most extraordinary plants and trees. Laroche had planned to clone the orchids and then sell them for a small fortune to impassioned collectors. After he was caught in the act, Laroche set off one of the oddest legal controversies in recent memory, which brought together environmentalists, Native Amer-ican activists, and devoted orchid collectors. The result is a tale that is strange, compelling, and hilarious.
"New Yorker writer Susan Orlean followed Laroche through swamps and into the eccentric world of Florida's orchid collectors, a subculture of aristocrats, fanatics, and smugglers whose obsession with plants is all-consuming. Along the way, Orlean learned the history of orchid collecting, discovered an odd pattern of plant crimes in Florida, and spent time with Laroche's partners, a tribe of Seminole Indians who are still at war with the United States.
There is something fascinating or funny or truly bizarre on every page of The Orchid Thief: the story of how the head of a famous Seminole chief came to be displayed in the front window of a local pharmacy; or how seven hundred iguanas were smuggled into Florida; or the case of the only known extraterrestrial plant crime. Ultimately, however, Susan Orlean's book is about passion itself, and the amazing lengths to which peoplewill go to gratify it. That passion is captured with singular vision in The Orchid Thief, a once-in-a-lifetime story by one of our most original journalists.

"From the Hardcover edition.
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Review Text

"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
show more

Review quote

"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
show more

About Susan Orlean

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.
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Rating details

10,355 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 22% (2,283)
4 38% (3,985)
3 29% (2,988)
2 8% (813)
1 3% (286)
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