1 November 2012 10:04 AM, PDT | Scott Feinberg | See recent Scott Feinberg news »

By Mark Pinkert

Literary Contributor


The most stimulating fragments of Susan Orlean’s book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, are the historical tangents about dogs in World War I and World War II.  The British, French, and Germans, as it turns out, utilized dogs frequently in 1918.

Some of these dog-soldiers carried medical supplies onto the field, while others were trained to sniff out barely-living soldiers amongst the mass of bloody corpses. Some less fortunate dogs were unleashed in battle with explosives strapped around their necks. And by World War II, the United States had established a program called “Dogs for Defense” in which American citizens donated their pets to fight in the war.

Unfortunately, Orlean offers only a few of these historical tidbits. Her main focus is the Hollywood success story of Rin Tin Tin and his devoted owner, Lee Duncan.

The story begins with Orlean »

- Mark Pinkert

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