Synopses & Reviews
He believed the dog was immortal.
So begins Susan Orlean's sweeping, powerfully moving story of Rin Tin Tin's journey from orphaned puppy to movie star and international icon. From the moment in 1918 when Corporal Lee Duncan discovers Rin Tin Tin on a World War I battlefield, he recognizes something in the pup that he needs to share with the world. Rin Tin Tin's improbable introduction to Hollywood leads to the dog's first blockbuster film and over time, the many radio programs, movies, and television shows that follow. The canine hero's legacy is cemented by Duncan and a small group of others who devote their lives to keeping him and his descendants alive.
At its heart, Rin Tin Tin is a poignant exploration of the enduring bond between humans and animals. But it is also a richly textured history of twentieth-century entertainment and entrepreneurship and the changing role of dogs in the American family and society. Almost ten years in the making, Susan Orlean's first original book since The Orchid Thief is a tour de force of history, human interest, and masterful storytelling — the ultimate must-read for anyone who loves great dogs or great yarns.
"With this stirring biographical history, Orlean follows up her bestselling The Orchid Thief with another tale of passion and dedication overcoming adversity and even common sense this one centering on Rin Tin Tin, the German shepherd who founded a film and TV dynasty. After spending a lonely childhood in an orphanage, the young soldier Lee Duncan discovers on the battlefield of WWI France the puppy that will make a name for him as one of Hollywood's top dog trainers, and become his life's guiding purpose. The book follows Rin Tin Tin's trajectory from early Hollywood's 'Poverty Row,' where Duncan sought the dog's first film deal, to international celebrity in silent films, radio shows, and TV programs. Though Rin Tin Tin's contracts began to lapse in later years, Duncan never ceased grooming canine successors and shopping around scripts, and producer Bert Leonard lived on friends' couches as he poured money into colorizing old episodes of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Orlean directs a sympathetic gaze toward these men so haunted by their memories of the dog that swept them into stardom. Even readers coming to Rin Tin Tin for the first time will find it difficult to refrain from joining Duncan in his hope that Rin Tin Tin's legacy will 'go on forever.' (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Rin Tin Tin was more than a dog. He embodied the core paradoxes of the American ideal: He was a loner who was also a faithful companion, a brave fighter who was also vulnerable. I was astonished to learn from this delightful book that he has existed for eleven generations over a century. By chronicling his amazing ups and downs, Susan Orlean has produced a hugely entertaining and unforgettable reading experience." Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin and Einstein
"Not only does Susan Orlean give us a fascinating and big-hearted account of all the many incarnations of Rin Tin Tin, she shows us the ever-changing role of American dogs in times of war and peace. This book is for anyone who has ever had a dog or loved a dog or watched a dog on television or thought their dog could be a movie star. In short — everyone." Ann Patchett, author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto
"I adored this book. It weaves history, war, show business, humanity, wit, and grace into an incredible story about America, the human-animal bond, and the countless ways we would be lost without dogs by our sides, on our screens, and in our books. This is the story Susan Orlean was born to tell — it's filled with amazing characters, reporting, and writing." Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
"[Orlean] combines all her skills and passions in this astonishing story...A terrific dog's tale that will make readers sit up and beg for more." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Stirring...A tale of passion and dedication overcoming adversity....Even readers coming to Rin Tin Tin for the first time will find it difficult to refrain from joining Duncan in his hope that Rin Tin Tin's legacy will 'go on forever.'" Publishers Weekly
"Move over Seabiscuit, Rin Tin Tin will be the most-talked-about animal hero of the year and beyond...A spectacularly compelling portrait...Engrossing, dynamic, and affecting." Booklist (Starred Review)
Acclaimed bestselling author of The Orchid Thief Susan Orleans traces the life and enduring legacy of canine hero Rin Tin Tin.
About the Author
Susan Orlean has been a staff writer at the New Yorker since 1992. She is the author of seven books, including Saturday Night and The Orchid Thief, which was made into the Academy Award.