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

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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 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.

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 Press

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.

Praise for The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession…


"Like the orchid, a small thing of grandeur, a passion with a pedigree . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean's] gifts in full bloom."
--The New York Times Book Review

"A LESSON IN THE DARK, DANGEROUS, SOMETIMES HILARIOUS NATURE OF OBSESSION . . . YOU SOMETIMES DON'T WANT TO READ ON, BUT FIND YOU CAN'T HELP IT."
--USA Today

"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

"FASCINATING . . . TALES OF THEFT, HATRED, GREED, JEALOUSY, MADNESS, AND BACK-STABBING . . . AN ENGROSSING JOURNEY."
--Los Angeles Times

"ARTFUL . . . In Ms. Orlean's skillful handling, her orchid story turns out to be distinctly 'something more.' . . . Orchids, Seminole history, the ecology of the Fakahatchee Strand, the fascination of Florida to con men. . . . All that she writes here fits together because it is grounded in her personal experience. . . . [Her] portrait of her sometimes sad-making orchid thief allows the reader to discover acres of opportunity where intriguing things can be found."
--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
   The New York Times

"DELICIOUSLY WEIRD . . . COMPELLING."
--Detroit Free Press

"ZESTFUL . . . A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great. Here are visionary passions and fierce obsessions; heroic feats accomplished in exotic settings; outsize characters, entrepreneurs at the edge of the frontier, adventurers. . . . Orlean, an intrepid sociologist among the orchid fanatics, is also a poetic observer."
--The Wall Street Journal

Product Details ISBN-10: 044900371X
ISBN-13: 9780449003718
Published: Ballantine Books, 01/04/2000
Pages: 320
Language: English


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