Read The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk W. Johnson Online

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

A rollicking true-crime adventure and a thought-provoking exploration of the human drive to possess natural beauty for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The Lost City of Z, and The Orchid Thief.On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at Londons 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 Edwins obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skinssome collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwins, Alfred Russel Wallace, whod risked everything to gather themand 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 mans relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and mans destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature....

Title : The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
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Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 320 pages
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The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century Reviews

  • Larry Hamilton

    An interesting true crime story that also dealt with several obsessions; naturalists from the 1850’s who sacrificed their lives to discover and collect new species, fishing fly tiers who selfishly sought rare bird feathers and the author bent on discovering the truth. I was hoping for a better ending, but a worthy read.

  • Chris

    It’s hard to distinguish who is the more obsessive, the author in his quest for the truth or the fly tying thief. It’s nice to know that a fly fishing trip to Taos, New Mexico was the inspiration for this book.

    We castigate ourselves today for our lack of respect for the environment and nature but things were much worse in the 19th Century. Johnson re-educates us on our all but forgotten sordid past when entire species of birds were eradicated because their feathers were fashion. We also meet ano
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  • Bronwyn

    This was such a bizarre story, but super interesting!

    I've recently listened to this podcast about the Victorian bird market, which is super interesting too: https://www.dressedpodcast.com/podcas...

    Also, guys, Edwin Rist does flute covers of pop songs and tv music! https://youtu.be/CKnEp5qdANQ

  • Mary

    What a story! Who knew that were people so obsessed with the art of tying fishing flys that they would spend huge amounts of money and purchase feathers they should suspect were stolen. But then, who would have ever thought that we would elect a president with no respect for the environment or humanity.

    Edwin Rist thief, accomplished flautist, and Master Flytier is the subject of this book and his daring robbery of irreplaceable scientific bird specimens from the British Museum of Natural Histor
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  • Joann

    3 1/2 Stars really. The book has three parts. The story of early collector and scientist Alfred Russell Wallace which is fascinating. The story of the theft of hundreds of valuable bird skins from the British Museum and the detective work involved in solving the crime. Also fascinating. And an endless description of the history of fly-fishing lure tiers. Which was just too long.

    Glad I read it. Learned a lot. The book brings up interesting issues about collecting and obsession. Being obsessed wi
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  • Emily Goenner

    I flew through the first two sections. Johnson provides a history and tells the heist story in a way that makes feathers fascinating. The last section, though, which tells his story of his obsession, was less interesting to me and a shift from telling the story to personalizing the story; the end didn't work for me but the book is well worth the read.

  • Rebekah

    This book hooked me from the moment I read the description. True crime about a fly tier trying to earn money to buy a gold flute? I'm there.

    The book was a great mix of the author's obsession with this case, the history of 19th century naturalists and the quest for exotic birds, background on a young prodigy in both the flute playing and fly tying world, an unexpected museum heist, and the investigation and trial of this case in London courts.

    Excellent audiobook narrator.

  • Mac

    I'm fascinated by stories of obsession where people are all-in pursuing a goal. I'm intrigued by the combination of years-long focus, intensity, and dedication; and I want to know if the pursuit will end in success or failure. (My recent review of Cork Dork describes another obsession story.)

    The Feather Thief fits the "obsession genre" particularly well. Actually, two characters are obsessive here. First, Edwin Rist dedicates himself to stealing hundreds of rare bird skins for their beauty and u
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