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Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legendby Susan Orlean
Synopses & Reviews
One of the most acclaimed nonfiction books of 2011, Susan Orlean’s New York Times bestseller Rin Tin Tin is “an unforgettable book about the mutual devotion between one man and one dog” (The Wall Street Journal).
Rin Tin Tin’s journey from orphaned puppy to movie star and international icon begins on a World War I battlefield, when an American soldier, Lee Duncan, discovered the newborn German shepherd in the ruins of a bombed-out dog kennel. Back in California, the dog’s athleticism and acting ability drew the attention of Warner Bros and over the next ten years, Rinty starred in twenty-three blockbuster silent films that made him the most famous dog in the world. During the decades that followed, Rinty and his descendants rose and fell with the times, making a tumultuous journey from silent films to talkies, from black-and-white to color, from radio programs to one of the most popular television shows of the baby boom era, The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin.
Spanning ninety years, this “enormously satisfying story about a dog and the man who believed in him” (USA Today) is an irresistible blend of history, human interest, and masterful storytelling — a dazzling celebration of a great American dog by one of our most gifted writers.
“Fascinating....The sweeping story of the soulful German shepherd who was born on the battlefields of World War I, immigrated to America, conquered Hollywood, struggled in the transition to the talkies, helped mobilize thousands of dog volunteers against Hitler and himself emerged victorious as the perfect family-friendly icon of cold war gunslinging, thanks to the new medium of television....Do dogs deserve biographies? In Rin Tin Tin Susan Orlean answers that question resoundingly in the affirmative....By the end of this expertly told tale, she may persuade even the most hardened skeptic that Rin Tin Tin belongs on Mount Rushmore with George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt, or at least somewhere nearby with John Wayne and Seabiscuit.” The New York Times Book Review
“Remarkable...Orlean’s pursuit of detail is mind-boggling....The book is less about a dog than the prototypes he embodied and the people who surrounded him. It is about story-making itself, about devotion, luck and heroes....Ultimately, the reader is left well nourished and in awe of both Orlean’s reportorial devotion and at her magpie ability to find the tiniest sparkling detail." San Francisco Chronicle
“Deeply moving....An unforgettable book about the mutual devotion between one man and one dog.” The Wall Street Journal
“Dazzling....Susan Orlean has fashioned a masterpiece of reporting and storytelling, some of it quite personal and all of it compelling. Animal-related books have always peppered best-seller lists — Seabiscuit comes quickly to mind — and this one will top such lists. It deserves to, and also to work its way into millions of hearts and minds....[Carl] Sandburg called Rin Tin Tin ‘thrillingly intelligent’ and ‘phenomenal.’ The same can be said for this remarkable book....Spectacular.” Chicago Tribune
“Epic....Heartfelt....An enormously satisfying story about a dog and the man who believed in him.” USA Today
“Stunning....A book so moving it melted the heart of at least this one dogged Lassie lover....Don’t let the book’s title fool you. Calling Rin Tin Tin the story of a dog is like calling Moby-Dick the story of a whale. Orlean surfs the tide of time, pushing off in the 1900s and landing in the now, delivering a witty synopsis of nearly a century of Rin Tin Tins and American popular culture. The result is a truly exceptional book that marries historical journalism, memoir, and the technique of character-driven, psychologically astute, finely crafted fiction: a whole far greater than the sum of its parts.” The Boston Globe
“A story of magnificent obsession. Nearly a decade in the making, combining worldwide research with personal connection, it offers the kind of satisfactions you only get when an impeccable writer gets hold of one heck of a story.” Los Angeles Times
“Susan Orlean has written a book about how an orphaned dog became part of millions of households, and hearts, in a way that may reveal the changing bonds between humans and animals, too....One of the many pleasures of this book is the historical breadth of the story.” NPR’s Weekend Edition
“An improbably fascinating tale of one of the first canine celebrities, the times that catapulted him to fame, and the legacy that endures.” People
He believed the dog was immortal. So begins Susan Orlean’s sweeping, powerfully moving account of Rin Tin Tin’s journey from abandoned puppy to movie star and international icon. Spanning almost one hundred years of history, from the dog’s improbable discovery on a battlefield in 1918 to his tumultuous rise through Hollywood and beyond, Rin Tin Tin is a love story about "the mutual devotion between one man and one dog" (The Wall Street Journal) that is also a quintessentially American story of reinvention, a captivating exploration of our spiritual bond with animals, and a stirring meditation on mortality and immortality.
About the Author
Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including Rin Tin Tin, Saturday Night, and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award-winning film Adaptation. She lives with her family and her animals in upstate New York and may be reached at SusanOrlean.com and Twitter.com/SusanOrlean.
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