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The Orchid Thief
A True Story of Beauty and Obsessionav Susan Orlean125
Susan Orlean first met John Laroche when visiting Florida to write for the New Yorker about his arrest for stealing rare ghost orchids from a nature reserve. Fascinated both by Laroche and the world she uncovered of orchid collectors and growers, she stayed on, to write this magical exploration of obsession and the strange world both of the orchid obsessives and of Florida, that haunting and weird 'debatable land' of swamps and condos, retirement communities and real-estate scams. The world of the orchid hunters, breeders and showmen, their rivalries, vendettas and crimes, smuggling, thefts and worse provide the backdrop to a fascinating exploration of one of the byways of human nature, the obsessive world of the collector, and the haunting beauty of the flowers themselves.
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Like the orchid, a small thing of grandeur, a passion with a pedigree... The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean's] gifts in full bloom * 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 * Irresistable... 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 Tribute * 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 * New York Times *
Susan Orlean became a staff writer for the New Yorker in 1992 and has also written for Esquire, Vogue and Rolling Stone. She is the author of three other books of non-fiction.