Rin Tin Tin

The Life and the Legend

Orlean, Susan

(Book Club Kit - 2012)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Rin Tin Tin
Allegedly found in the ruins of a bombed-out dog kennel in France during World War I, then brought to Los Angeles by Lee Duncan, the soldier who found and trained him, by 1927 Rin Tin Tin had become Hollywood's number one box-office star. Susan Orlean's book--about the dog and the legend--is a poignant exploration of the enduring bond between humans and animals. It is also a richly textured history of twentieth-century entertainment and entrepreneurship. It spans ninety years and explores everything from the shift in status of dogs from working farmhands to beloved family members, from the birth of obedience training to the evolution of dog breeding, from the rise of Hollywood to the past and present of dogs in war.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York :, Simon & Schuster Paperbacks,, 2012
Edition: First Simon & Schuster trade paperback edition
ISBN: 9781439190142
Characteristics: 11 identical volumes in tote bag ; 36 x 45 x 16 cm


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May 07, 2014
  • timbert rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Read only half, the dogs characters were not captured & that was my main interest

Oct 19, 2012
  • kakacurt rated this: 1 stars out of 5.

Disappointing. Talked a lot about other dogs. Would have liked a more detailed description of the original Rin Tin Tin and not the successors and the entertainment industry.Too impersonal. Almost like a textbook. Jumps around. I rarely don't read an entire book. This was easy to put down.

Dec 07, 2011
  • Nann rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

"Yo, Rinty!" cried Rusty, the boy on the on the old west army post. The TV Rin Tin Tin sprang to action. Yet before TV there were earlier Rin Tin Tins -- going back to the French battlefield in WWI when U.S. solider Lee Duncan found an orphaned pup. The first Rin Tin Tin became a silent movie star -- in fact, he won the Best Actor award in the very first Oscars but the judges changed their decision and gave the award to a human.

Susan Orlean not only retells Rin Tin Tin's story, but she also provides background on how our attitude towards dogs as pets (vs. working dogs) has changed, the evolution of obedience training, and on dog breeding.

Nov 14, 2011
  • LJHan rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

As someone lucky enough to have shared my life with German Shepherds--seven so far; my first Shepherd "owned" me when I was 12-- I enjoyed this book.
Some of the social commentary seemed a bit over wrought, but I cried more then once.
Whenever I've posed one of my dogs with their front feet on a tree trunk or rock, they were "doing Rin Tin Tin"
(I owned a Breyer German Shepherd.
Not a very good likeness of the breed. The Hartland Bullet-which I still have-is a much better sculpture!)

Every kid wanted a dog like Rin Tin Tin. Or Lassie.

Oct 21, 2011
  • athena14 rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

My take: Susan Orlean started off wanting to write a book about Rin Tin Tin and his role in our culture. She got distracted by Lee Duncan’s memoir and then by Bert Leonard’s saga. I wish there were more photos, especially of Rinty I and a filmography. Not a bad book, but a muddled manuscript.

Sep 14, 2011
  • Cdnbookworm rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book is the culmination of years of research by Orleans, and it shows.
The book describes the life of Lee Duncan, the original owner and trainer of the dog Rin Tin Tin. We see the life of the real dog Duncan brought back from France after World War I, and the on-screen persona in both film and television. Orleans gives a picture of the movie and television business over the years, and shows the various players involved from producers, screenwriters, and directors to co-stars.
She shows how the fame of Rin Tin Tin spread internationally, and how it grew to change the landscape of dogs as they moved to become pets more than working animals.
We see how the persona of Rin Tin Tin was embraced by generations and in different countries. We also are shown how the this love grew the popularity of German shepherds and a dynasty of Rin Tin Tin descendants.
Duncan was initially driven by pride in his dog and wanting others to recognize the uniqueness of Rin Tin Tin, but that grew to include encouraging others to train their own dogs. Duncan always connected with the love between children and their dogs, and this influenced his choices in film and television projects.
Orleans has taken an immense amount of research, both personal interviews and boxes and boxes of papers. She looked at artifacts from the commercialization of Rin Tin Tin, and most interestingly her own motivation to tell this story. From a child's love of a figurine, to this wonderful and extensively researched book, she acknowledges her own role in the Rin Tin Tin story.
From the personal to the legend, Orleans covers all aspects of this story over the course of almost a century. This is a book for dog lovers, those interested in social change, and those who just love a good story.


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Jun 16, 2013
  • josie3706 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This thoroughly researched book tells the story of an icon from his rescue in WWI , through silent flims, vaudeville, movies, tv and every imaginable means of marketing. The author follows the fortune and failures of several people loyal to the legend and is honest to admit she becomes as obsessed as they to tell his story. Great for dog lovers, film and history buffs


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