the orchid thief_ a true story of beauty and obsession _ballantine by konhollow


									The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession
          (Ballantine Reader's Circle) review

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Product Description-The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and
            Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
 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.From Florida’s swamps to its courtrooms, the New Yorker writer
 follows one deeply eccentric and oddly attractive man’s possibly criminal pursuit of an endangered flower. Determined to clone
the rare ghost orchid, Polyrrhiza lindenii, John Laroche leads Orlean on an unforgettable tour of America’s strange flower-selling
   subculture, along with the Seminole Indians 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.Praise for The Orchid Thief:
  “Fascinating . . . tales of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing . . . an engrossing journey.”–Los Angeles
Times“Irresistible . . . a brilliantly reported account of an illicit scheme to housebreak Florida’s wild and endangered ghost orchid
  . . . Its central figure is John Laroche, the ‘oddball ultimate’ of a subculture whose members are so enthralled by orchids they
 ‘pursue them like lovers.’ ”–Minneapolis Star Tribune“Artful . . . in Ms. Orlean’s skillful handling, her orchid story turns out to be
   distinctly ‘something more.’ . . . [Her] portrait of her sometimes sad-making orchid thief allows the reader to discover acres of
    opportunity where intriguing things can be found.”–The New York Times“Zestful . . . a swashbuckling piece of reporting that
    celebrates some virtues that made America great.”–The Wall Street Journal“Deliciously weird . . . compelling.”–Detroit Free

 Orchidelirium is the name the Victorians gave to the flower madness that is for botanical collectors the equivalent of gold fever.
 Wealthy orchid fanatics of that era sent explorers (heavily armed, more to protect themselves against other orchid seekers than
   against hostile natives or wild animals) to unmapped territories in search of new varieties of Cattleya and Paphiopedilum. As
   knowledge of the family Orchidaceae grew to encompass the currently more than 60,000 species and over 100,000 hybrids,
orchidelirium might have been expected to go the way of Dutch tulip mania. Yet, as journalist Susan Orlean found out, there still
  exists a vein of orchid madness strong enough to inspire larceny among collectors. The Orchid Thief centers on south Florida
       and John Laroche, a quixotic, charismatic schemer once convicted of attempting to take endangered orchids from the
 Fakahatchee swamp, a state preserve. Laroche, a horticultural consultant who once ran an extensive nursery for the Seminole
   tribe, dreams of making a fortune for the Seminoles and himself by cloning the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii. Laroche
 sums up the obsession that drives him and so many others: I really have to watch myself, especially around plants. Even now,
just being here, I still get that collector feeling. You know what I mean. I'll see something and then suddenly I get that feeling. It's
 like I can't just have something--I have to have it and learn about it and grow it and sell it and master it and have a million of it.
    Even Orlean--so leery of orchid fever that she immediately gives away any plant that's pressed upon her by the growers in
   Laroche's circle--develops a desire to see a ghost orchid blooming and makes several ultimately unsuccessful treks into the
   Fakahatchee. Filled with Palm Beach socialites, Native Americans, English peers, smugglers, and naturalists as improbably
       colorful as the tropical blossoms that inspire them, this is a lyrical, funny, addictively entertaining read. --Barrie Trinkle

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Customer Reviews:
81 of 83 people found the following review helpful
An engaging PEEK..., January 27, 2000 By DAMwriter "David Moore" (Chicago, IL USA)
This review is from: The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (Paperback) First, a
few caveats (it's always best to be up-front about ones biases and assumptions): 1) I haven't read Ms. Orlean's 'New Yorker'
article, so I have no basis of comparison between it and this book. 2) I have never lived in South Florida, and have only visited
Miami Beach twice, so my ability to say what is "true" about Florida's history and culture is somewhat limited and I won't even
bother to attempt to verify any of Ms. Orlean's assertions. Fact - or slightly modified fact - I don't know...That being said, this
book is a very enjoyable, engaging read. No, it does not have a particularly suspenseful or intriguing STORYline, especially if
what you're looking for is an amazing-but-true mystery with high drama and a surprise ending. The author says, from the
beginning, that she can only deal in the facts of the case - if she wants to keep this a non-fiction book, she's limited by real
events. What she does, very successfully, however, is reveal the...

100 of 105 people found the following review helpful

An original, quirky and entertaining book., January 1, 2003 By E. Bukowsky "booklover10" (NY United States)
        This review is from: The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (Paperback)
Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Thief" is an intriguing look at people who are obsessed with collecting orchids. Originally, Ms.
Orlean's main focus was to write a profile of John Laroche in "The New Yorker" magazine. Laroche is an offbeat character who
spent a great deal of time and money amassing a huge orchid collection. When Laroche banded together with a group of
Seminole Indians to steal orchids from the Fakahatchee Strand, a 63,000-acre preserve in southwest Florida, he was arrested
and tried for his crime.Orlean eventually expanded her article on Laroche into this book. She widened the scope of her research
and came up with many interesting tidbits about orchids and those who collect them. For example, I learned that orchids often
outlive human beings. In fact, orchids can theoretically live forever, since they have no natural enemies. Some orchid owners
designate a person as an "orchid heir" in their wills, since the owners expect that their precious orchids will...

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful

Flower Power, August 25, 2002 By sweetmolly (RICHMOND, VA USA)
This review is from: The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (Paperback) "The
Orchid Thief" is an expansion of an article written for "The New Yorker." It is well worth your while to read the book. The author
enlarges on the history of collecting orchids, orchid hunters, and the flower itself. She is to be commended for her research on
all and the Seminole Indians as well. Did you know the Seminoles are technically still at war with the United States? They are
the only tribe that never signed a treaty.The title character, John LaRoche is almost-but-not-quite worth the focus he receives.
He has a quirky mindset, an enthusiasm that is catching; but his total self-absorption gets tiresome. His knowledge and
keenness for the art and science of plants is entertaining. But hey, the guy is a small time crook, a trail of unrealized dreams,
and a very poor friend. In spite of many denials, I think Susan had more than a mild crush on him; why else put up with all his
inconsiderate nonsense?The description of the various orchids is...
iption of the various orchids is...

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