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The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (Ballantine Reader's Circle) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 4. Januar 2000

3.3 von 5 Sternen 59 Kundenrezensionen

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Taschenbuch, 4. Januar 2000
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Orchidelirium is the name the Victorians gave to the flower madness that is for botanical collectors the equivalent of gold fever. Wealthy orchid fanatics of that era sent explorers (heavily armed, more to protect themselves against other orchid seekers than against hostile natives or wild animals) to unmapped territories in search of new varieties of Cattleya and Paphiopedilum. As knowledge of the family Orchidaceae grew to encompass the currently more than 60,000 species and over 100,000 hybrids, orchidelirium might have been expected to go the way of Dutch tulip mania. Yet, as journalist Susan Orlean found out, there still exists a vein of orchid madness strong enough to inspire larceny among collectors.

The Orchid Thief centers on south Florida and John Laroche, a quixotic, charismatic schemer once convicted of attempting to take endangered orchids from the Fakahatchee swamp, a state preserve. Laroche, a horticultural consultant who once ran an extensive nursery for the Seminole tribe, dreams of making a fortune for the Seminoles and himself by cloning the rare ghost orchid Polyrrhiza lindenii. Laroche sums up the obsession that drives him and so many others:

I really have to watch myself, especially around plants. Even now, just being here, I still get that collector feeling. You know what I mean. I'll see something and then suddenly I get that feeling. It's like I can't just have something--I have to have it and learn about it and grow it and sell it and master it and have a million of it.
Even Orlean--so leery of orchid fever that she immediately gives away any plant that's pressed upon her by the growers in Laroche's circle--develops a desire to see a ghost orchid blooming and makes several ultimately unsuccessful treks into the Fakahatchee. Filled with Palm Beach socialites, Native Americans, English peers, smugglers, and naturalists as improbably colorful as the tropical blossoms that inspire them, this is a lyrical, funny, addictively entertaining read. --Barrie Trinkle -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

Pressestimmen

“Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detailed and full of empathy . . . The Orchid Thief shows [Orlean’s] gifts in full bloom.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Fascinating . . . an engrossing journey [full] of theft, hatred, greed, jealousy, madness, and backstabbing.”Los Angeles Times
 
“Orlean’s snapshot-vivid, pitch-perfect prose . . . is fast becoming one of our national treasures.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“Orlean’s gifts [are] her ear for the self-skewing dialogue, her eye for the incongruous, convincing detail, and her Didion-like deftness in description.”Boston Sunday Globe
 
“A swashbuckling piece of reporting that celebrates some virtues that made America great.”The Wall Street Journal


From the Hardcover edition.

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Format: Taschenbuch
First, a few caveats (it's always best to be up-front about ones biases and assumptions): 1) I haven't read Ms. Orlean's 'New Yorker' article, so I have no basis of comparison between it and this book. 2) I have never lived in South Florida, and have only visited Miami Beach twice, so my ability to say what is "true" about Florida's history and culture is somewhat limited and I won't even bother to attempt to verify any of Ms. Orlean's assertions. Fact - or slightly modified fact - I don't know...
That being said, this book is a very enjoyable, engaging read. No, it does not have a particularly suspenseful or intriguing STORYline, especially if what you're looking for is an amazing-but-true mystery with high drama and a surprise ending. The author says, from the beginning, that she can only deal in the facts of the case - if she wants to keep this a non-fiction book, she's limited by real events. What she does, very successfully, however, is reveal the fascinating world of obsession and collecting - in this case, for a particular form of plant.
And she does this with amazing ease and grace. Like her guides in the swamps, Ms. Orlean takes us through lessons in history, evolution, geology and botany - subjects which could be incredibly dry in someone else's hands - and connects them neatly with her incredible descriptions of current orchid mania - the characters, the controversies, and the competition. Her ability to make those connections allows the reader to take a step further, and make their own, outside of what she has written. I constantly found myself saying, "Oh my, that's the (explorer/patron/flower) that (did this/went there/made that).
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I read Susan Orlean's excerpt in the NEW YORKER and rushed out to buy the book as I wanted to find out more about John Larouche "the orchid thief". I soon found out that all the "meat" of the story was in the NEW YORKER article and the book was nothing more than "bun". I wanted/hoped THE ORCHID THIEF to be a "juicy" tale of intrigue and adventure, but there's only a little of that in the book. Mostly we follow Ms. Orlean around Florida looking at orchids and talking to strange orchid growers. Many of her descriptions are breathtakingly beautiful and vivid, but as a STORY it really falls short. I was disappointed. (No wonder the writer who is adapting this for the screen struggled to adapt this work. I read he finally had to make up a story that really has nothing to do with the book because there isn't one within these pages.)
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Susan Orlean has really done it this time. She has written a book about, "passion itself, and the amazing lengths to which people will go to gratify it." Is it any wonder that her readers feel so passionately about this book. Many orchid experts find fault with the book's facts and criticize the lack of passion for orchids from Ms. Orlean while lovers of a good story and that crazy world known as south Florida rave about it. For my part, I enjoyed reading the Orchid Thief. It reads like a novel, so while I did notice a horticultural error or two myself, I was not reading it as a reference book, but for entertainment. I didn't find it to be quite the page turner I was expecting, but the characters are memorable, the stories are interesting and Ms. Orlean's writing is a pleasure. I am an amazon.com associate.
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Format: Taschenbuch
The Orchid Thief, by Susan Orleans, discusses the case of John Laroche, a Florida man who was obsessed with orchids. Laroche took protected orchids out of the Fakahatchee Strand, an area of swamp in Florida. Orleans got to know Laroche and other orchid obsessives, and it's an interesting account of their world. Various shonky companies were responsible for the Florida land booms (and busts) which were the prelude to the govt's acquisition of the land of the Fakahatchee Strand. Plots of land were neatly subdivided but never inhabited, and perhaps the most compelling description, for me, was of the curious occurence of desolate suburban streets, complete with street signs, that cut through the wild landscape: a town with neither inhabitants nor homes, but streets maintained by an anonymous individual dubbed the "ghost grader."
There was just a *little* too much detailed description of the "amazing" Florida landscape for my liking, and of Orleans' personal distate when confronted with swamp; you feel like she's just trying to capture how icky it is, but after a while there's a bit of a "so what? it's swamp" effect. Her disappointment that she couldn't buy a diet soda at one remote store fails to pluck at your heartstrings (or mine, anyway). But she does give a really compelling history of the so-called orchidelirium that gripped the Victorians, of rather astounding orchid-collecting expeditions across the tropics, and of the orchid subculture.
Orleans describes Florida as a state under siege -- from water,from plunderers, from wild foliage. I enjoyed this book -- Orleans writes for the New Yorker, and it's like a New Yorker article that never ends, which is my idea of reading heaven.
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