The Orchid Thief

The Orchid Thief

Book - 2000 | 1st Ballantine ed
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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
Publisher: New York : Ballantine, 2000
Edition: 1st Ballantine ed
ISBN: 9780449003718
Characteristics: xiv, 284, [13] p. ; 21 cm


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Jan 09, 2021

This is a trainwreck of a book without plot, narrative, colorful dialogue or theme. The author intended to write about a noted wild orchid poacher and found him to be dislikable and probably insane, the court case was unexciting, and she had nothing much to write about. So instead of a crime thriller she wound up writing all about herself and her experiences in the orchid trade. The only redeeming feature is the author is a good writer and able to say interesting and fun things to drag you along through the book. This, however, only stretches so far and halfway through you realize nothing is going to happen except we are going to learn more about how the author thinks. It's like she was trying to channel McPhee and just couldn't quite pull it off. An introduction to orchids and nothing else here. Skip it.

CoronadoLibraryStaff Jan 16, 2020

I thought this book was going to be about a guy going around stealing flowers but it's really about the state of Florida and how shifty it is.

carolce Dec 10, 2019

Chapter: Anyone can grow orchids and, in Large Print page316-317 and 336-the end are worth reading again and thinking about. They get to the heart of the book.

Apr 17, 2019

This book fascinated me. I just had to go along with the different points of view, shifting from the story of the title person to the history of orchids to the cultivation or collection of orchids to the first person Florida experience.
I enjoyed every word.

Feb 18, 2019

This extended essay is primarily about people obsessed by orchids. It does not dwell on the botany of the orchid or their cultivation. It concludes with a short bibliography but lacks an index, end notes, and photographs.

Jan 06, 2017

Loved this book - it made me laugh out loud as well - but this is a winner for sure - can at times get a little too much into details about things that needent be - but overall i loved this book

Sep 13, 2012

Such a great book and I recommend it for all native americans and lovers of orchids! Very good style of writing!

daymakerdave May 10, 2011

Well I now know more about Florida and collection orchids than I ever imagined. This book is interesting in it's very in depth look at the wierd and wild world of rare orchid collectors. Interesting but by about page 175 I couldn't care less. If you want to know absolutely everything about orchids then you'll like this. If you're looking for a story about orchids or the theft of them, you will be dissappointed.

Nov 18, 2009

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Feb 18, 2019

"... The old orchid hunter lay back on his pillow, his body limp. ... 'You'll curse the insects,' he said at last, 'and you'll curse the natives. ... The sun will burn you by day and the cold will shrivel you by night. You'll be racked by fever and tormented by a hundred discomforts, but you'll go on. For when a man falls in love with orchids, he'll do anything to possess the one he wants. It's like chasing a green-eyed woman or taking cocaine. ... it's a sort of madness. ...'" (p. 78)

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