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The Orchid Thief Audiobook

The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession

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Publisher's Summary

The orchid thief in Susan Orlean's mesmerizing true story of beauty and obsession is John Laroche, a renegade plant dealer and sharply handsome guy, in spite of the fact that he is missing his front teeth and has the posture of al dente spaghetti. In 1994, Laroche and three Seminole Indians were arrested with rare orchids they had stolen from a wild swamp in south Florida that is filled with some of the world's most extraordinary plants and trees. Laroche had planned to clone the orchids and then sell them for a small fortune to impassioned collectors. After he was caught in the act, Laroche set off one of the oddest legal controversies in recent memory, which brought together environmentalists, Native American activists, and devoted orchid collectors. The result is a tale that is strange, compelling, and hilarious.

New Yorker writer Susan Orlean followed Laroche through swamps and into the eccentric world of Florida's orchid collectors, a subculture of aristocrats, fanatics, and smugglers whose obsession with plants is all-consuming. Along the way, Orlean learned the history of orchid collecting, discovered an odd pattern of plant crimes in Florida, and spent time with Laroche's partners, a tribe of Seminole Indians who are still at war with the United States.

There is something fascinating or funny or truly bizarre on every page of The Orchid Thief: the story of how the head of a famous Seminole chief came to be displayed in the front window of a local pharmacy; or how 700 iguanas were smuggled into Florida; or the case of the only known extraterrestrial plant crime. Ultimately, however, Susan Orlean's book is about passion itself, and the amazing lengths to which people will go to gratify it. That passion is captured with singular vision in The Orchid Thief, a once-in-a-lifetime story by a truly original journalist.

Executive Producer: Laura Wilson
Producer: Paul Ruben
Jacket design: Robbin Schiff
Jacket photograph: Lisa Charles Watson
©1998 Susan Orlean
(P)2001 Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Stylishly written, whimsical yet sophisticated, quirkily detached...It shows Orlean's gifts in full bloom." (New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.5 (208 )
5 star
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3.4 (77 )
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Story
3.4 (80 )
5 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Red Emma Seattle, WA USA 02-19-14
    Red Emma Seattle, WA USA 02-19-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    38
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    "I really wanted to like this book more"
    Any additional comments?

    After watching, "Adaptation" I wanted to read the book that was so hard to turn into a screenplay. I now know why. This was a really well researched, historically interesting book which I found well put together and funny at times. Maybe what was ultimately lacking, and that which the author freely admits to, is that she chose to write a book about being passionate about something having never really felt that way herself. And it is apparent in her writing. All the ingredients were there for an awesome book, but it just sort of fell flat. Even with all of the interesting people she met and wrote about. I'm not sad I listened to it (and I thought the narrator was spot on) but overall it was mediocre.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Los Angeles, CA, United States 11-28-13
    Nancy Los Angeles, CA, United States 11-28-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    Performance
    Story
    "IF YOU LIKE ORCHIDS"
    What did you love best about The Orchid Thief?

    This story is actually a true story about a person who was being prosecuted in Florida for stealing orchids from a state protected zone. But it is much more than that. The author has done her research. She tells a lot about the state, orchids in general and the love and passion that people have had for orchids throughout history. I recommend the book for people who love orchids and who would like to know a lot more about them and their history.


    What other book might you compare The Orchid Thief to and why?

    I don't really know any other book that is comparative to this one.


    Which character – as performed by Jennifer Meyers – was your favorite?

    The author narrates the book about her research into the person who was arrested and the circumstances and she does a great job. I liked the author.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No, it made me very interested as it is a subject that I have a lot of interest in.


    Any additional comments?

    It is actually very humorous though she definitely fills you in on a lot of detail about the subject the author makes it very enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    miles rose lake, fl, United States 04-19-13
    miles rose lake, fl, United States 04-19-13 Member Since 2013

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Carl haissen esc. liked it"

    carl haissen like mystery in florida. funny and interesteing. well worth it. word count time again

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Tucson, AZ, United States 02-04-13
    Linda Tucson, AZ, United States 02-04-13

    Sericulturalist and horticulturalist, mad scientist and earth oven baker.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    45
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    14
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    "Bad Execution, Full of Errors"

    Very bad edting made this a jarring read. Bits were cut off and the narraor read so fast I had to slow the replay to be able to tolerate lisening. The author does not know her botanical subject matter, and this part of the book is rife with error. There is also a marked underone of lack of respect for some of her subjects that in the end does her discredit, not the other way around. I don't think she cared about this book or the people she used , it was just a job, it could have been so much more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Sydney, Australia 02-13-12
    Amanda Sydney, Australia 02-13-12

    Literawesome

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Absolutely fascinating"
    Would you listen to The Orchid Thief again? Why?

    I am a big fan of the movie 'Adaptation' and always wanted to read the book it was based on. While the book is indeed


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie Surrey, British Columbia, Canada 12-01-11
    Natalie Surrey, British Columbia, Canada 12-01-11
    ratings
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    24
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    Story
    "Who knew their was so much to learn about orchids"

    Fascinating look at the orchid, from it's origin, reproduction, evolution .... the collectors, the dealers and the "thief" - John Laroche. The details are at times overwhelming but overall it was a great "listen".

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amanda Burke 06-20-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good story, badly read"

    That whiney, cutesy voice just isn’t right for telling this interesting tale. Who chooses the narrator, anyway? Doesn’t the author have any say? Especially when it’s a first-person narrative?

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cill 08-12-10
    Cill 08-12-10

    Retired systems analyst; Lover of music, art, travel, technology, birds, Caribbean, scuba; Favorite audiobook genres: mystery, biography, travel, humor, fiction

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Story, Bad Editing"

    I enjoyed this story but found the narrator tried too hard and read too fast giveing the listener the feeling of being pushed to listen. Also the editor of Format 4 cut words off when putting the chapters together (about 10 times in the first 48 minutes)..this is extremely annoying! Not a progessional production.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter Piedmont, CA, USA 01-27-10
    Peter Piedmont, CA, USA 01-27-10 Member Since 2015
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    "Great book, OK delivery"

    The reader's jaunty, affected delivery would be far more appropriate for a comic novel than a work of non-fiction. She is aided greatly by the quality of the text itself.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Madison, WI, USA 12-01-03
    Christopher Madison, WI, USA 12-01-03 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "See the movie,"

    Very boring; no real story, just bits here and there, kinda like reading a dictionary. It pushes you away. However, the movie Adaptation is great, and believe it or not, all of any story in the book is fitted into the movie.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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