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Publisher's Summary

"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 20th-century entertainment and entrepreneurship and the changing role of dogs in the American family and society.

Almost 10 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-listen for anyone who loves great dogs or great yarns.

©2011 Susan Orlean (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“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)
"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Hire a narrator!

The story was compelling, but the narration was artless and dull. Even a long distance drive was better once I turned it off. I wish good authors would hire equally skilled narrators to bring their work to life!

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Pauline
  • Redlands, CA, United States
  • 12-08-11

Don't expect a Laura Hillenbrand quality story

I agree with the other reviews about the artless and flat narration. But the writing is not that much better. It should have been titled "My Life Researching and Obsessing over Rin Tin Tin." Far too much of the book is about the author's experiences in researching the story and her philosophical musings about the actual dog and his movie and TV persona. And her numerous digressions are pointless and tedious. Why did the author find it necessary to devote space to the man who impersonated the actor who had portrayed Rusty on the TV series.
The first part of the book dealing with the discovery of the "real" Rin Tin Tin on a WWI battlefield and his rise to stardom was interesting.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Different narrator would have made it better

Would you be willing to try another one of Susan Orlean’s performances?

I like Orlean's writing and the subject was great, but I totally agree with those who speak of her flat, nasal delivery. A different narrator would have done this book a world of good. It was a constant struggle for me to decide to wade through the book because of the great topic or chuck it because the narration was so irritating.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Performance was much better in movie 'Adaptation'

seriously, though, I don't mind Orlean's performance. True, she's not a pro, but there's nuance and wit to her reading.

This very detailed biography starts with a bang, but loses a bit of steam in the last third or so. I loved hearing about the origins of Rin Tin Tin, and I cried when (SPOILER ALERT, I guess) Rinty I dies.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Breanna
  • Alhambra, CA, United States
  • 12-11-11

Performance was much better in movie 'Adaptation'

seriously, though, I don't mind Orlean's performance. True, she's not a pro, but there's nuance and wit to her reading.

This very detailed biography starts with a bang, but loses a bit of steam in the last third or so. I loved hearing about the origins of Rin Tin Tin, and I cried when (SPOILER ALERT, I guess) Rinty I dies.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Hard to listen to her narration

Hire a pro - I've only got into it a few hours and don't think I can listen to her voice anymore.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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An Endearing, Delightful Read

For once, I did not want to get to the end of a book. The author/narrator rendered a wonderful story about a dog I grew up watching on TV. So much research was presented with style and interesting language. Learning about the dog, his devoted owner, and the cartel of other characters that surrounded Rin Tin Tin in his many lives was fascinating. An artful documentary of a beloved creature!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Not so legendary

If you are expecting a wonderful story about a dog, this isn't it. It's the bio of an antisocial man who loved dogs, followed by the people who made a dog story into a movie and television franchise. Rich in details, if you love Rin Tin Tin, it's everything you ever wanted to know and a lot more of what happened behind the curtain. It's not for those of us battling cynicism.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Peggy
  • United States
  • 10-28-11

Needed a Real Narrator

Please save me from authors who think they will be the best narrators for their books. Susan Orlean is clearly a very good author but her nasal voice and flat delivery detracted from her writing and the story of this otherwise enjoyable book. I had to listen with a split mind since her voice drove me a bit batty. Please, Ms Orlean, stick to writing.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Anne
  • United States
  • 04-26-12

Loved it

A wonderful story that combines the history of film and television with the tale of Rin Tin Tin and his descendents. I thought it got a little slow toward the end, but otherwise, I couldn't put it down. I love dogs, but I don't think you need to be a dog-lover to enjoy this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful