Synopses & Reviews
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 Press
The story of orchid thief and obsessive, John Laroche, and the bizarre world of the orchid fanciers of Florida. The world of the orchid hunters, breeders and showmen, their rivalries, vendettas and crimes, smuggling, thefts and worse provide the backdrop to an exploration of one of the byways of human nature, the obsessive world of the collector.
The story of one John Laroche, and the criminal world that surrounds the trade in rare Florida orchids. What started out as an article for Orlean's newspaper turned into what Anna Pavord of "The Independent" called "...this brilliantly conceived account of obsession".