John Frazier's Reviews > Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend

Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
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's review
Nov 30, 2011

really liked it

This was more than the chronicle of an American icon and his impact on a country in need of one at the end of WWI. It was about author Susan Orlean's personal connection through her grandfather's plastic likeness of the canine movie star, a likeness that, though one of millions and of no particular monetary value, was so revered as to be virtually off limits to Orleans and her siblings. Her exploration of the dog's history and its place in her life is a revealing peek into a worldwide fascination with a German Shepherd and the ideals he (and subsequent offspring) came to represent: bravery, dedication, allegiance, faithfulness, skill and an almost human-like ability to communicate through facial expressions that took the place of words and connected with fans and followers of all ages.

Of course, along the way we learn how one man's dog became an industry franchise and a merchandising colossus, a star of screens large and small, which leads to the inevitable legal squabbles and wrangling that seem to punctuate all great "American" stories. And through no small amount of research Orleans manages to fill in the voids and answer the questions that each new discovery raises.

If you like dogs, if you like movie stars, if you enjoy stories of lifelong devotion and dedication, if you enjoy reading how a global hero and icon relates to one woman's quest to learn the significance of a plastic toy, "Rin Tin Tin" will not disappoint.
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