The Feather Thief

The Feather Thief

Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Book - 2018
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"On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins--some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin's, Alfred Russel Wallace, who'd risked everything to gather them--and escaped into the darkness. Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man's destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature"--Jacket.
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, [2018]
ISBN: 9781101981610
110198161X
9780525559092
0525559094
Branch Call Number: 364.162859 R59J
Characteristics: x, 308 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm

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ArapahoeKirsten Sep 09, 2020

A non-violent true crime novel - about a heist to steal birds from a natural history museum to use their feathers for fly fishing. Super engaging, mind-opening, and an overall fun read!

b
brodgers22
Jul 05, 2020

I loved this book. I couldn't put it down, which was a total shock because it's literally a book about feathers and a dude who stole them. :) I was absolutely riveted from page one, and cannot recommend this book highly enough!

w
Warbler3
Feb 15, 2020

Good writing, but I couldn't stand reading about all those dead birds. :-(

FPL_AdamL Jan 17, 2020

This is an amazing narrative of science, beauty, and human emotions wrapped up as a light-heart and riveting heist story.

b
bluefoot43
Oct 21, 2019

Unlike most true crime, this is a book I really enjoyed! (I can't be entertained by books with horrible crimes that actually happened to someone, but this is about a heist of bird specimens.) From obsessive fly-tiers to the impact of fashion on bird extinction - this book dealt with things I'd never had occasion to even think about, and it did it while keeping me engaged and entertained!

m
MaryJoSchifsky
Sep 02, 2019

Aug 2019 Obsession, beginning w the naturalists risking life and limb to obtain the specimens in the MUS Natl History to the young thief, moving to the fly-tying purchasers of irreplaceable feathers to the author, who somehow thought he should make it is goal to find the remaining specimens after the their was caught. Interesting and wierd.

h
Heatherlee73
Aug 05, 2019

This is an amazing true crime book about the feather thief, obsession, collective hoarding, entitlement of the human race, and environmental preservation to list some of the themes. The writing is excellent and the story reads like a novel. The natural history of the colorful birds, their habitats, as well as their discovery and preservation was quite interesting. The exploitation for fashion and for fly-fishing is disheartening. Greed and entitlement persist.

I did learn more about fly-tying and fly tiers than I wished to know and found myself “power reading” through some descriptions.

n
nalahblueberry5
May 10, 2019

Rather odd story but it sucked me in. I did enjoy the second half maybe a bit better than the first. I was behind the author in his quest to at least try to find the missing birds. Good job. He is a good writer and I totally see why he wanted to write this book. It's odd and certainly not run of the mill. Shame on everyone involved except the author.

OPL_ErinD May 05, 2019

For fans who love intrigue, but also anyone who enjoys an inside look at a researchers path to storytelling.

l
laura_nicoara
Feb 20, 2019

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/654/the-feather-heist

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