From the Publisher
He believed the dog was immortal.
So begins Susan Orlean's sweeping, powerfully moving account of Rin
Tin Tin's journey from orphaned puppy to movie star and
international icon. Orlean, a staff writer at The New
Yorker who has been hailed as "a national treasure" by The
Washington Post, spent nearly ten years researching and
reporting her most captivating book to date: the story of a dog who
was born in 1918 and never died.
It begins on a battlefield in France during World War I, when a
young American soldier, Lee Duncan, discovered a newborn German
shepherd in the ruins of a bombed-out dog kennel. To Duncan, who
came of age in an orphanage, the dog's survival was a miracle. He
saw something in Rin Tin Tin that he felt compelled to share with
the world. Duncan brought Rinty home to California, where the dog's
athleticism and acting ability drew the attention of Warner Bros.
Over the next ten years, Rinty starred in twenty-three blockbuster
silent films that saved the studio from bankruptcy and made him the
most famous dog in the world. At the height of his popularity, Rin
Tin Tin was Hollywood's number one box office star.
During the decades that followed, Rinty and his descendants rose
and fell with the times, making a tumultuous journey from silent
films to talkies, from black-and-white to color, from radio
programs to one of the most popular television shows of the baby
boom era, The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin. The canine hero's
legacy was cemented by Duncan and a small group of others-including
Bert Leonard, the producer of the TV series, and Daphne Hereford,
the owner of the current Rin Tin Tin-who have dedicated their lives
to making sure the dog's legend will never die.
At its core, Rin Tin Tin 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. Filled with humor and heart and moments
that will move you to tears, Susan Orlean's first original book
since The Orchid Thief is an irresistible blend of
history, human interest, and masterful storytelling-a dazzling
celebration of a great American dog by one of our most gifted