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The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid (The Florida History and Culture Series) Hardcover – 15 Mar 2012

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813039746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813039749
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,617,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Craig Pittman is an award-winning journalist who writes about environmental issues for Florida s largest newspaper, the "St. Petersburg Times." He is the coauthor of "Paving Paradise "and author of "Manatee Insanity.""

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Top Customer Reviews

By Brida TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 Sept. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought I was going to love this book. I love orchids and books. Before coming to this, I have read THE ORCHID THIEF, ORCHID FEVER and THE ORCHID IN LORE AND LEGEND. All of these I enjoyed, finding in them things to interest, surprise and engage me. I was expecting the same when I began THE SCENT OF SCANDAL. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I was going to.

The book tells the story of a scandal which hit the orchid world. At the heart of this scandal was the Selby Gardens in America. What THE SCENT OF SCANDAL offers is a very detailed account of what happened and who the different characters at the heart of the scandal were and what role they played in it. Personally, I found it quite tedious at times but I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps it is down to the author's writing style - there were quite a few times when I felt that he was stretching out the story to make it last, or that he was going back over previously discussed events, interrupting the flow of the book. Or, perhaps it was because THE SCENT OF SCANDAL feels more like an 'academic' study of the scandal. By this, I do not mean that he writes in incomprehensible academic language, rather that there is so much detail into the characters and what happened that it makes you feel weighed down by facts.

Personally, I would only recommend this book to those who truly love orchids and who love to have all the facts before them. Although I have kept THE ORCHID THIEF and ORCHID FEVER, I won't be returning to this one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9123c840) out of 5 stars 48 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x915cc3d8) out of 5 stars Investigative reporting + true-crime writing = pace and tension of a great detective novel 1 April 2012
By Cynthia Barnett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Investigative journalist Craig Pittman had covered plenty of crazy people by the time he stepped onto the tranquil grounds of Sarasota's Marie Selby Botanical Gardens to report on a case of orchid smuggling in 2003.

There was the triple killer he interviewed on Death Row who took to writing him letters with smiley faces dotting the i's. There was the woman so in love with manatees she left a date to wade into the water with them fully clothed, then tackled a major political campaign on their behalf. Pittman's second book even had crazy in the name: "Manatee Insanity."

But none of that came close to the maniacal obsession to possess and name a new orchid discovered growing on a hillside in northern Peru. The petals of Phragmipedium kovachii stretch up like hot-pink fairy wings poised to soar away with the swollen pouch that makes it a "slipper orchid." The story of how it got to Selby, and how reputable scientists lost their minds in the race to be first to describe it, makes for incredible reading in "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid."

If it were fiction, "The Scent of Scandal" might be skewered for improbability: A Ph.D. taxonomist named Guido who punches out a cop. Not one but two collectors trying to pitch the idea of a wild-orchid-hunter reality show -- starring themselves as the macho leading man.

Pittman is on staff at the Tampa Bay Times, where he has established himself as one of the nation's top environmental reporters. He came to the beat more than 20 years ago on staff at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Local readers will appreciate his insights into the city's unique history and society scene. He recounts Selby's dazzling Orchid Ball, where in spring 2002, "real estate moguls and mortgage-rate gamblers rubbed shoulders with theater angels and gallery geeks." The revelers could not have imagined the resentments blooming among Selby's "orchid boys" who felt the institution had strayed too far from their showy obsession under then-director Meg Lowman.

Lowman, a renowned rainforest biologist, was out of town when collector Michael Kovach rushed to Selby from Miami International Airport with the prize that would soon be named for him. Those who were on duty at Selby's Orchid Identification Center on the day they now curse could seem to think only of fame. The Selby orchid illustrator's first thoughts: "... great publicity if handled correctly, which would stir the sleeping board members and demonstrate that we actually existed."

The one thing that didn't come to mind: Making absolutely sure that Kovach had legally brought the orchid home from the Peruvian wilds.

Pittman's two previous books are also about vanishing, vulnerable icons of nature -- first wetlands, then manatees -- and our failure to protect them. His incisive reporting leaves the reader astounded by the crass treatment of ecological resources, and taking little comfort in the ability of government to protect them. "The Scent of Scandal" is his best book yet, fusing investigative reporting and true-crime writing to create the pace and tension of a great detective novel.

The reader wishes only for more -- that Pittman would have completed Lowman's story (she landed as director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh), or that he would have traveled to Peru to write more on orchid history and ecology. "The Scent of Scandal" is not that sort of book because Pittman is a devoted daily newspaper reporter. Florida is lucky to have him as an environmental watchdog. One can only imagine the crazy tale he'll sniff up next.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9306c2b8) out of 5 stars A great stirrer up of passions. 18 Jun. 2012
By G. E Farr - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Back in 1960 when I turned sixteen a couple of friends and I headed out to explore Big Cypress. Part of our purpose was to experiment with cigarettes and bourbon. For me, at least, son of a hunting guide and nephew of the first biologist ever hired by the old Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, the appeal was even more (really!)the opportunity to explore and investigate the wild places and wildlife. I craved encounters with anything that ran, flew, or -- best of all -- slithered. But one of our number was intersted in the plants, in particular orchids. And they were profuse. The little Butterfly Orchids grew in such profusion that when they bloomed they perfumed the air downwind of the cypress domes they favored. Cigar Orchids and Ghost Orchids were also common, and even more captivating. I was smitten. I still am. We were all smitten. So we stole them. Stole them shamelessly and enthusiastically for parents, teachers, and girls. And on nearby Chevalier Loop (which the locals all called "Chevrolet") a retired Navy Chief had established his own orchid jungle, with boardwalks running out over the swamp waters. He was friendly and informative with us, but he hated "garden club ladies" with a bitter passion, expressed with the force and vocabulary honed in a former life at sea, on warships, in combat. The ladies arrived, according to him, in chauferred limosines and -- stole orchids. And so I learned, first hand and young, that orchids, as James II of England said of falconry, are "a great stirrer up of passions." "A Scent of Scandal" is a recounting of one more story of these most beautiful and erotic of flowers, and of the passionate, irrational, and often illegal actions they inspire. Our merry 1960 band of hormonally overloaded high school boys, a Popeye-double Navy Chief, and larcenous rich Miami ladies was far less varied and colorful than the cast of orchid fanatics Craig Pittman follows through the episode of discovery and intrigue he reports in " Scent...". Other reviews perfectly describe in accurate detail the plot and specific subject matter of this fascinating book. For me it was a return to and reminder of that first introduction to the perilous intoxication of orchids and wonder of encountering them in the wild places they inhabit and symbolize.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90e7cb58) out of 5 stars Wonderfully written exposé on the Orchid World.... 24 Feb. 2013
By JeffKnowsStuff - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though orchids are a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide, the true money lies with individuals who take advantage of new species for both hybridization and collectors value.

This book explains the grey area encompassing the legal ownership and naming rights of orchids, and the rush to be the first to market...

The importance of this flower lies in the large size and new color, never before seen in the Phragmipedium genus. This makes collectors and hybridizers salivate.

This being said, I am the owner of a legally obtained Phrag kovachii seedling, which by the way are down to about $100 for a two inch seedling from several hundred a few years ago.

Even the growers, whom I speak with personally, many mentioned in this book, speculate that thieves took several thousand of these plants from the wild to supply their illegal ventures and wealthy collectors.

A wonderful well written account!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x910827bc) out of 5 stars Great Book!! 24 April 2012
By Carol - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the best orchid book written yet - much better than the others. It is very fast paced - I could not put it down - and I'm buying it for my friends. The author does a great job of describing the events and how they fit together - I had heard bits and pieces but never the entire story. Congratulations on a very well written book.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x90e5257c) out of 5 stars Orchid Insanity 10 Jun. 2012
By Jim McClellan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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 universe in which this insanity is possible. By the time you're done reading, you wonder if anyone, including the US government personnel, cares about anything other than their own narrow interests.

In writing such a carefully researched piece, Craig himself may have done more for the future of rare orchids than any of his subjects.
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