Despite her sometimes-appalling ignorance of movie history, Susan Orlean has written a thoughtful and compulsively readable book called Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. (Simon & Schuster). It is more than a biography of the famous canine star; it’s a meditation on fame, success, loneliness and obsession. It’s also a highly personal book that traces Orlean’s longtime fascination with Rinty, fueled by the popular TV show that bore his name. It follows her journey as she pieces together the story of the man who discovered him and the odd assortment of people who have been part of his orbit ever since. She also follows the birth and development of the German shepherd breed in America, which was influenced—
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