By Dawn Raffel, Reader's Digest Editor at Large, Books
Most of us remember seeing Rin Tin Tin on TV or in movies. Orlean’s fascinating book explores the stranger-than-fiction true story of the dog that captured a nation’s imagination. The real, flesh-and-blood Rinty was a war puppy, found in a bombed-out kennel on a WW1 battlefield by an American soldier named Lee Duncan. A loner who’d been abandoned by his father, Duncan communicated best with dogs and refused to leave this one behind. Against all odds (and Army regulations), Duncan not only brought Rinty home to California but also determined, while working in the basement of a sporting goods store, to make his dog a Hollywood star. (Offspring Rin Tin Tins went on to small screen fame; Rinty’s descendants are still being bred.) Orlean’s book is a penetrating, moving look at the making of an American icon.