- File Size: 31495 KB
- Print Length: 318 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 24, 2018)
- Publication Date: April 24, 2018
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B074DGMF88
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,067 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Print List Price:||$17.00|
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The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century Kindle Edition
|Length: 318 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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“Fascinating from the first page to the last—you won’t be able to put it down.”
“A fascinating book . . . the kind of intelligent reported account that alerts us to a threat and that, one hopes, will never itself be endangered.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“Thrilling . . . This book is The Orchid Thief for the fly-fishing and birding set.”
—Paris Review, “Staff Picks”
“Fascinating . . . a complex tale of greed, deception, and ornithological sabotage.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[A] true-crime caper recounted with relish.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine, “10 Titles to Pick Up Now”
“Vivid and arresting . . . Johnson [is] a wonderfully assured writer.”
—The Times (London)
“One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever. . . . Johnson is an intrepid journalist . . . [with] a fine knack for uncovering details that reveal, captivate, and disturb.”
—Christian Science Monitor
“An uncommon book . . . [that] informs and enlightens. . . A heist story that manages to underline the enduring and continuing importance of natural history collections and their incredible value to science. We need more books like this one.”
“The best compliment I can give a nonfiction writer is that they make me care deeply about an obscure topic I would otherwise never have been interested in. That’s the case with Kirk Wallace Johnson’s The Feather Thief.”
—Eva Holland, Outside, “The Best Summer Books”
“A fascinating account of a bizarre crime . . . The Feather Thief is one of the more peculiar and gripping crime stories in recent memory.”
—LitHub CrimeReads, “The Essential True Crime Books of Spring 2018”
“A riveting read.”
“A literary police sketch—part natural history yarn, part detective story, part the stuff of tragedy.”
“Within pages I was hooked. This is a weird and wonderful book . . . Johnson is a master of pacing and suspense . . . It’s a tribute to [his] storytelling gifts that when I turned the last page I felt bereft.” —Maggie Fergusson, The Spectator (London)
“A riveting story about mankind’s undeniable desire to own nature’s beauty and a spellbinding examination of obsession, greed, and justice . . .[told] in engrossing detail. . . . A gripping page-turner.”
“Richly informative, with handy illustrations, endlessly fascinating and crackingly entertaining, The Feather Thief is the kind of true-crime narrative that gives Erik Larson's much-lauded The Devil in the White City a run for the money.”
“Highly entertaining . . . journalism at its best . . . If you know nothing about fly-fishing or tying, it doesn’t matter, as long as you like a well-written story.”
—Karen Gallagher, The Baltimore Sun's Roughly Speaking podcast
“Reads like a whodunit . . . I could not put it down.”
—Tom Rosenbauer, The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast
“This is the type of book I absolutely love – one that takes a seemingly obscure topic and shines a brilliant and bizarre and endlessly fascinating light upon it. The crime itself is riveting, but Kirk Wallace Johnson’s portrayal of the crazy world of feather fanatics makes this an unforgettable read.”
—Michael Finkel, author of The Stranger in the Woods
“Captivating...Everything the author touches in this thoroughly engaging true-crime tale turns to storytelling gold. . . . Johnson's flair for telling an engrossing story is, like the beautiful birds he describes, exquisite. . . . A superb tale about obsession, nature, and man's ‘unrelenting desire to lay claim to its beauty, whatever the cost.’”
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“[An] enthralling account of a truly bizarre crime. . . . Johnson goes deep into the exotic bird and feather trade and concludes that though obsession and greed know no bounds, they certainly make for a fascinating tale. The result is a page-turner that will likely appeal to science, history, and true crime readers.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“A remarkably compelling story of obsession and history.”
—Booklist, Starred Review
“You'll never look at a feather the same way again after reading this riveting detective story . . . [The Feather Thief] brilliantly weaves together Alfred Russel Wallace, the surprisingly shadowy history of fly fishing, conservation and the plumage of the most beautiful birds on earth.”
—The Bookseller (UK)
“A true-crime tale that weaves seemingly unrelated threads—a museum break-in; the development of evolutionary theory; a case of post-Iraq PTSD; endangered birds; and (above all) the murky underworld of fly-tying obsessives—into a spellbinding narrative tapestry.”
—Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu
“A captivating tale of an unlikely thief and his even more unlikely crime, and a meditation on obsession, greed, and the sheer fascination in something as seemingly simple as a feather.”
—Paul Collins, author of The Murder of the Century
“A stirring examination of the devastating effects of human greed on endangered birds, a powerful argument for protecting our environment—and, above all, a captivating crime story.”
—Peter Wohlleben, author of The Hidden Life of Trees
“This gem of a book, about a heist of archival birds, is marvelous, moving, and transcendent. I can’t stop thinking about it.”
—Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara and The Feud
—Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs
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The book is a study in obsession as the author himself, an Iraqi war veteran, becomes fixated on the crime and the man who committed it. The story is immersive. Johnson, the author, has spent an incalculable amount of time researching the history of fly-tieing and the lure of exotic feathers to the point of even surreptitiously attending a fly-tiers convention undercover. He becomes a principal investigator in solving the details of Edwin's crime, identifying accomplices and tracking bird skins.
The book grabbed my interest from the first few pages. Johnson's book has all the pacing of a well-crafted mystery novel and manages to hold the suspense of exactly what happened and who was involved throughout the entire book. He covers this story with all the zeal of a professional investigative journalist. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes psychological character studies and true crime.
If you like odd stories of the strange things around us, you will enjoy this book.
As you read the book, you will want to see photos of these beautiful birds to better understand the obsession, he has photos at the end or just Google them.
Top international reviews
It tells the story of how musical prodigy Edwin Rist came to steal nearly 300 bird skins from the Natural History Museum. This isn’t some chancer thief. This is a bright, intelligent, charismatic and talented lad from New York who was studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London, when he formulated his plan to steal the birds. They were part of a collection assembled over some 350 years and in terms of replacement value were priceless. Rist wanted the feathers (rare, hard to find and expensive when you could) from the birds to tie salmon flies and to sell to other salmon tiers to do the same.
Kirk Wallace Johnson compiled this book over several years and it shows. The level of research is scientific in its detail. He does an admirable job writing the story of an incredibly unusual crime, with some equally unusual twists whilst interviewing some obsessive and secretive individuals. He is clearly a tenacious individual, which begs the question whether a book like this would have seen the light of day had he not heard about, and become interested in, the story itself.
If a writer had made up this story one would have thought it too fanciful, too far fetched for people to believe in. This genuinely is a strange story told very well. I strongly urge you to read this book
I confess I sometimes hope an incurable virus wipes us out after I read stories of how we treat the natural world.