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The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  172 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Some people will do anything for beauty or fame

“FANTASTIC. If I did not know most of the main players I would have thought the author had a vivid and twisted imagination..”—Paul Martin Brown, author of Wild Orchids of Florida

“A fascinating true story of obsession, greed, and lust for the unobtainable. Reminds me a great deal of The Maltese Falcon. This rare flower is defin
...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 5th 2012 by University Press of Florida (first published March 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  172 ratings  ·  33 reviews


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Start your review of The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid
Deidre
Apr 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
What is it about orchids that provokes such obsession? This book details the egos, eccentricities and excesses that dominate the world of rare orchids. Verging on some of the same territory as The Orchid Thief, this book takes a less romanticized view of the people involved in orchid research. Pittman details the situation with a reporter's precision, juggling a large cast of eccentric characters. The story told is one that played out in the newspapers and media but what remains is a sense of sa ...more
Cynthia Barnett
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Pittman's best book yet and my favorite Florida book in some time. Fuses investigative reporting and true-crime writing to create the pace and tension of a great detective novel.
Olga Mirkina
Apr 05, 2017 rated it liked it
I like orchids, so I read it. Learned a lot about flowers, the book is not that great however
Larry Perez
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As a long-time south Florida naturalist, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to impress upon others the importance of taxonomy. Avoiding the confusion often associated with common names is an obvious advantage, but scientific nomenclature can often also provide a helpful mnemonic for identification, can help identify close ties among species, and—most interestingly—often provides a gateway to truly great stories. Craig Pittman does a masterful job of proving the latter point in the pages of his late ...more
Jim McClellan
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
You really can't make this stuff up. And if you did, nobody would believe you anyway. Can orchids really make people nuts? The answer, as Craig explains, is a very definite yes! Craig leads you down a path of international intrigue and deception, only to occasionally yank you back into the reality that all of it is over flowers -- not drugs or jewels or espionage.

Byzantine regulations, corrupt officials, arrogant collectors and (over)zealous prosecutors all play a role in creating the bizarre un
...more
Joe
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I review The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid


Pittman portrays Kovach, the Adventurer, Selby's staff and others as backstabbers who out of greed, jealousy, fear or egotism take sides and turn against each other. Two of the principals even planned to do reality TV shows about orchids. There's also courtroom drama and a mysterious death that may have been suicide, accident or murder. What more could you ask for?



Go to my blog:
Have Words Will Write ‘Em

and then
...more
Amy
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it
The first half of this book is fascinating, explaining the crazy world of orchid collecting, and telling about all of the main players in this orchid scandal. However, half way through is where I was feeling "okay, let's wrap it up already and give me some bullet points of how things played out", but there was still half a book left!! I did some serious skimming at that point. It was probably so incredibly detailed because it was part of a series about Florida history published by a university p ...more
Anne Leon
Jul 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just finished "Scent..." - holy smokes, what a cast of characters!! Only in real life--and especially in my home state of Florida-- can it get that crazy... KUDOS!! A larger-than-life look into the world of orchid lovers, collectors, and smugglers.
Craig Pittman guides you through a maze of international intrigue, jealousy, greed, and the magnificent obsession of acquiring elusive and rare orchids. This story begs for the big screen!
Karen
Aug 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Written by a newspaper reporter and reads like an extended news article. Interesting subject, learned a lot about orchids, import rules, smuggling.
Helen
Botany can be exciting! I loved Craig's tale of skulduggery in the orchid world. Truth can be stranger than fiction.
Grrlscientist
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
You can see them in windows of houses whilst driving along the road. Go to a florist or to a gardening store and there they are, and botanical gardens are positively lousy with them. I’m talking about orchids — it seems like everyone likes orchids. But some people like them a little too much. It’s these people who are the focus of Craig Pittman’s recent book, The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid [University Press of Florida; 2012].

Reading this book is like
...more
Dyan
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
I found this pretty boring, to be honest; though I've read a lot about orchids recently and that may be partly why. Certainly I think there are "better" books about orchids out there. This one read like a soap opera, with frequent cliffhangers and "shock" twists. It's meant to be humorous but mostly I just found it annoying. Plus, Pittman's writing style could do with a little... Narrative flair, I guess you could say. A lot of it read like: "This happened. And then this happened. And then this. ...more
Erica
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, orchids
I loved the first third of this book--profiles of different types of people in and around the orchid world. The trial that takes up about 2/3 of the book could have been edited down to less than half the length; the details were just not fascinating enough to watch every move. The epilogue was great, though, because it got back to the people and their relationships with orchids and how the Phrag. kovachii experience changed them. I'd recommend this book to any orchid lover, and anyone wanting to ...more
May
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Cautionary Tale;
If you ever love a subject, you already are obsessing over it.
This book unfortunately details what happens when your obsessions outweigh your
judgement. A very old story, but somehow it ruined the joy of it for me.
Good book, but for those already engaged in their pet subjects, the lesson would fall
on deaf ears. For the rest of us it is a lesson in how not to interfere in some fields.
Wrongness is a period of historical time, think Kew Gardens and what madness that
generated among c
...more
Silvio111
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Half way through this book (Why did it take me so long?) I decided there was no point reading about a bunch of obsessive, greedy, competitive orchid fanciers all trying to beat each other to fame for possessing an...orchid.

It seemed a waste of my precious time on earth. Sorry.
Fred Forbes
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Seventeen years ago while living in Orlando I picked up a photograph I was having enlarged and the store owner commented that it was a nice shot, maybe I should enter it at Selby. "What's a Selby?" I asked as he handed me an entry slip. Turns out it is a garden and research center in Sarasota with a specialty in orchids and they sponsor an annual photo contest so off went the picture. I got a call a few weeks later letting me know that I had won the landscape division and could I come over for t ...more
Jeanne
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Up until orchids could be propagated in quantity, they were searched for by the Indiana Jones' of the plant community, slogging through dense jungles for that prize orchid, the Holy Grail of orchids, that they could add to their precious collections, and would make them a packet. Then in 2002 the world's most exquisite orchid in over a century was found. Not wanting to be scooped, or to cause any kind of sensation before this orchid could be identified and named, it was illegally smuggled out of ...more
Jean
May 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The true story of an orchid. It doesn't sound like a very exciting story,but it was. Orchid people are nutty, I've concluded, but there are many nutty people in all kinds of professions. The story is about a new slipper orchid and its "discoverer" and a whole lot of orchid people who got into this mess. The basic "story" is about Michael Kovach, who brought this new orchid into the country, showed it to orchid people at Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota, and had it named after him. But a lot of ot ...more
Nora
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am the typical common orchid lover, who got her first Phalaenopsis, and when I managed to get it flower again I was over the moon and rushed to buy anther one. today I have 16 of them. Tried my luck with other types, but we did not click. However this does not prevent me from admiring other types, go to shows, visit botanical gardens and read about Orchids, and thus this book.

Although I did not have luck with Lady Slippers, looking at the pictures of the Kovachii I can understand why people wa
...more
M
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book quite a bit. The people who found, collected, studied, and/or named Phragmipedium kovachii had such amazingly bad luck!

My one (very) minor issue: this purportedly factual account perpetuates a myth about the discovery of Cattleya labiata. (See http://www.nybg.org/plant-talk/2013/0...). Part of that myth is that C. labiata is endemic to Rio de Janeiro. The fact that it is found in northeast Brazil around Pernambuco can be verified in the literature (see Almeida, P., et al. "Micr
...more
Catherine
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
In The Scent of Scandal, Craig Pittman takes a complex drama with numerous actors and manages to keep the reader interested and carried along the story's multiple twists and turns. Like being on a roller-coaster ride through a botanical garden--including the offices, laboratories, and greenhouses out back. The character-driven narrative includes just enough backstory on orchids, endangered species policy, South American jungles, and botanical science for context. There are no boring parts.

Anyone
...more
Mrs.Lady
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
If I had known I would have to keep track of 45 participants in this saga... overall amzing that all this came about from bring a flower(s)? from Peru - all those US tax dollars spent for investigating and prosecuting. Gue

I thought this book would be more fun Like Eric Hanson´s Orchid Fever which was an easy romp through the wild world of orchid collecting mania.

I had to keep referring to the 2 pages of names of the participants in the scandal --- who was that again?

I wouldn´t want to read this
...more
Roxy
Jul 24, 2012 rated it did not like it


This book got some great reviews and since I love my little orchid collection and botanical gardens such as the Selby, I thought I would enjoy this book. Wrong. I kept waiting,page after loathe some page, for it to get in the least bit interesting, I skimmed the last 10% just to make sure I had not missed something exciting; I didn't .
Margaret
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A terrific story well told about the orchid world and the local and international scandal at Marie Selby Gardens, Sarasota, Florida. The author is the St. Pete Times reporter who covered the story, so it is filled with facts and well researched information. I recommend to all readers and Floridians.
Hugh Stephens
Mar 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Knowing some of the people involved in this "drama" made it interesting reading for me. It's more like a novel and could be made into a movie or play. The characters are "characters" of various kinds and with various agendas all revealed as the story unfolds.
Debbie
Oct 30, 2012 rated it liked it
great start but dragged towards the end. interesting though, learned a little about the corrupt world of orchid's.
Marjoladue
Jan 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating how obsessed orchid collectors can be.
Resalo
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read but a bit tedious after about 75 pages---
It is amazing however to get a peak at the Orchid Underworld.
Although well researched, I did prefer the Orchid Thief over this
book.
Kathy
Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting story of how lust for an unusual orchid got a lot of folks in trouble. For the orchid enthusiast.
Carolyn Allaire
Oct 22, 2015 rated it liked it
If you enjoy raising orchids, you'll find it a good read.
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Key West Library: Cafe Con Libros: The Scent of Scandal 1 4 Nov 24, 2012 12:10PM  

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Craig Pittman is the author of "Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country," a timely and hilarious look at how the Sunshine State became the Punch Line State, and yet still manages to secretly influence people all across the country. He's also written "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid," (2012) which delves into the wild ...more

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