We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession | [Susan Orlean]

The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession

There is something fascinating or funny or truly bizarre on every page of this true tale of floral obsession: 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.
Regular Price:$31.93
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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 (167 )
5 star
 (39)
4 star
 (51)
3 star
 (39)
2 star
 (24)
1 star
 (14)
Overall
3.5 (44 )
5 star
 (10)
4 star
 (15)
3 star
 (8)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (3)
Story
3.5 (47 )
5 star
 (13)
4 star
 (11)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
 (5)
1 star
 (4)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Robert Little Rock, AR, USA 02-09-03
    Robert Little Rock, AR, USA 02-09-03 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    49
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Orchids are just the vehicle."

    Yes, it's about orchids, but it's really about obsession, passion, collecting, and the meaning of life. Also theft, greed, bizarre collectors and explorers. This is the best book I've listened to in a couple of years.

    18 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-02-04
    03-02-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    568
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Would the real Susan Orlean please stand up"

    I listened to this in addition to reading the book in preparation for a book review. I was surprised at how sarcastic the narration came across in this audio version. It gave me a completely different view of the author and I can't help wondering what the book would have felt like if the author had preformed the audio herself and from which perspective she would present herself. As far as the writing went I appreciated the author's ability to share the diverse personalities, flaws and all, of her subjects and still present a friendly view of them. I learned a huge amount about florida, orchids, smuggling and the people attracted to all three. With so much detail to cover and many tangents to intigrate into the book Orlean's writing style is well suited to the material. The result is a very human view of a odd microcosim within our human family.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doggy Bird Glen Ridge, NJ USA 12-05-11
    Doggy Bird Glen Ridge, NJ USA 12-05-11 Member Since 2001

    Mes livres preferes sont les grands classiques, certains romans, la poésie, et l'histoire. J'aime écouter dans la voiture et au gym.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    479
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    134
    94
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    70
    9
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating story well told and narrated"

    I recently read this book after seeing the movie ADAPTATION which is exactly that, an adaptation of this book. It's a wonderful book about a man obsessed by orchids and it's about orchids, obsession, and also veers off into the history of Florida real estate to boot. I found it to be a fascinating 'journey' about things that don't usually interest me in the least. It's very well written and researched and it's also very unusual and hard to describe since it's not really a story but more of a quest to discover what motivates people. Highly recommended, it was exactly the kind of book that translates well into an audiobook, easy to follow and full of navigations off the beaten path. A real pleasure.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maarten oldenzaalNetherlands 04-15-04
    Maarten oldenzaalNetherlands 04-15-04 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    167
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Nice Cover, Nice Story, Nice Trip"

    I've visited Florida, as a European at an age of about 25. It's now 15 years ago. The images come back: The enormous amounts of mosquito's in the everglades the damp heat and the threat of crocodiles, the weird feeling of nature versus human (or should I say American spirit) and my feeling of displacement there.
    The story has a very realistic feel. I really love the narrator, I can see this astonished New York girl stomp through the swamp -Listen to HER say swomp- in her clean white shorts and sometimes be so very sweet in her astonishment. It's so honest. To me it was like a trip back, this time WITH well researched and well told background information AND guided by a lovely? girlfriend ? daughter?. Great!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph East Aurora, NY, USA 02-03-04
    Joseph East Aurora, NY, USA 02-03-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "A passionless look at passion"

    Driven by a desire to understand great passion, the author delves into a bizarre world where the right plant is worth more than life itself. And yet despite her best efforts, passion exceeds her grasp and she is left to provide only a cold listing of scientific facts, historical essays and bland social interactions.

    The most striking feature of this book is the absolute flatness of its narrative. Each fact is as important as the next and soon you realize that you have stopped listening and are thinking about what you might have for lunch. Fortunately, your lapse in concentration is without consequence as you can easily pick back up wherever in the story you find yourself.

    This endless torrent of meaningless information reminds me of those hundred-word essays you had to write in grade school. You know the one where you might have said, "There were many orchids to choose from, a red one, a blue one, one with stripes, a green one that looked as if it had been made from frog skin, another blue one a little lighter than the first blue one..." Of course your teacher was taking a hundred-word nap, but hey, you did your part!

    The best, and perhaps only, reason to listen to this book is so that you can more fully enjoy the movie "Adaptation".

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan BRIMFIELD, MA, United States 12-19-05
    Jonathan BRIMFIELD, MA, United States 12-19-05 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    84
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "great read"

    really good read.. quick and informative...well written and interesting even to someone like me who knew nothing about the subject

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander culpeper, VA, United States 07-28-14
    Alexander culpeper, VA, United States 07-28-14 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    67
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What happened here?"

    There are books that make me think that maybe I can write a book and it sell some copies. This is one of those. While it had some interesting factoids included, the rest fell very flat and the ending seemed as if she just gave up. This book was preceded by Bill Brysons "1927" so maybe that had something to do with my disappointment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Red Emma Seattle, WA USA 02-19-14
    Red Emma Seattle, WA USA 02-19-14 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    106
    45
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    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 2010

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    42
    40
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  • Showing: 1-10 of 17 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.