Off the Stacks: ‘Rin Tin Tin’ by Susan Orlean

by Kim on October 7, 2011 · 14 comments

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Off the Stacks is a weekly-ish feature where I highlight a nonfiction book I’m curious about but will probably run out of hours in the day to actually read. I’m hoping that by highlighting titles this way, I can encourage other people to give the book a try, and, if it’s great, consider nominating it later this year for the Indie Lit Awards. Consider these books stamped with the “Sophisticated Dorkiness Seal of Curious Approval.”

Rin Tin TinTitle: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend
Author: Susan Orlean
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Nonfiction Type: History
Topics Covered: Rin Tin Tin, television, canines, pop culture, America

What It’s About: “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” debuted on American television in 1954. However, the real-life story of Rin Tin Tin was not as glamorous as the perfect pup he played on the small screen. The real dog’s story begins on a World War I battlefield and leads to Hollywood and, eventually, the history books.

Why I Want to Read It: Susan Orlean writes beautifully and manages to find the extraordinary in everything she chooses to write about. While I’m not that into dogs, since I got my cat Hannah I am curious about books that explore the relationships between humans and animals, and I think this book will broach the topic in a fascinating way.

Who Else Might Like It: Dog lovers, tv fanatics, history nerds

Reviews: USA Today | Christian Science Monitor | NPR |

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

softdrink October 7, 2011 at 8:59 am

I’ve never even seen a Rin Tin Tin episode.


Kim October 9, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I haven’t either, but I’m curious about it.


Jeane October 7, 2011 at 10:19 am

I’ve never seen the show either, but I think I’d like to read the book regardless.


Kim October 9, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Yeah, I think so too — I love stories about the history of pop culture icons.


Meg October 7, 2011 at 11:12 am

Is it bad that I had no idea Rin Tin Tin was based on a real dog? This does sound like an interesting read, and I’m also curious about the relationship between humans and the beloved animals in their lives! I sometimes swear that my dog understands my random musings, limited English speaker that he is.


Kim October 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I feel the same way about my cat. I sometimes think she knows what I’m saying, but more often I just think she’s sort of dumb :)


Kailana October 7, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I actually received a review copy of this book the other day. I hadn’t heard anything about it, but it looks interesting.


Kim October 9, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Very cool, I can’t wait to hear what you think!


Pam October 8, 2011 at 12:17 pm

I have been too traumatized by animal books in the past to pick this one up, :) although I loved Orlean’s “The Orchid Thief”. I also have never seen an actual episode of Rin Tin Tin.


Kim October 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I liked The Orchid Thief too, which is one of the reasons I’m curious about this one — Orlean write so beautifully, I’d read a book by her on just about anything.


Stephanie Lunn October 9, 2011 at 9:17 am

Thank you. I will definitely give this book a read.


Kim October 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm



Christy (A Good Stopping Point) October 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

For whatever reason, though I really enjoyed “The Orchid Thief” I have not sought out Susan Orlean’s other works. I’m not sure how interested I am in this particular subject and may wait to read some bloggers’ reviews first. I have never seen the show but I do remember liking this “based on a true story” tv movie called “Chip, the War Dog” when I was a kid.


Kim October 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

I’ve only read one other Orlean book — a collection of New Yorker and other magazine pieces. She has one about live in America on Saturday night, I think maybe just called Saturday Night, that I’m excited to read sometime.


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