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The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
— —
Kirk Wallace Johnson
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson at Abbey's Bookshop,

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

Kirk Wallace Johnson


9781101981610

Viking


True crime;
Mathematics & Sciences;
Wildlife: birds & birdwatching;
Travel & holiday guides


Hardback

320 pages

$49.95
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As heard on NPR's This American Life Absorbing . . . Though it's non-fiction, The Feather Thief contains many of the elements of a classic thriller. --Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever. --Christian Science Monitor A rollicking true-crime adventure and a captivating journey into an underground world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, 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 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.

By:   Kirk Wallace Johnson
Imprint:   Viking
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 160mm,  Spine: 36mm
Weight:   544g
ISBN:   9781101981610
ISBN 10:   110198161X
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   April 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Kirk W. Johnson is the author of To Be a Friend Is Fatal and the founder of the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. He is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the American Academy in Berlin, and the USC Annenberg Center.


[A] thrilling read. --Bustle 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 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) 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 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 This extraordinary book exposes an international underground that traffics in rare and precious natural resources, yet was previously unknown to all but a few. A page-turning read you won't soon forget, The Feather Thief tells us as much about our cultural priorities as it does about the crimes themselves. There's never been anything like it. --Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs [A] thrilling read. --Bustle Fascinating from the first page to the last--you won't be able to put it down. --Southern Living 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 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) 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 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 This extraordinary book exposes an international underground that traffics in rare and precious natural resources, yet was previously unknown to all but a few. A page-turning read you won't soon forget, The Feather Thief tells us as much about our cultural priorities as it does about the crimes themselves. There's never been anything like it. --Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs Praise for To Be a Friend is Fatal Beautifully written...A deeply personal and poignant story. --Azar Nafisi Riveting, darkly funny, heroic, and shaming. --George Packer I have long been an admirer of Kirk Johnson--for his humanitarian advocacy on behalf of forgotten Iraqis and for his honest and poetic writing. --David Finkel Devastating...To Be a Friend Is Fatal [tells the story of] interpreters and aid workers who risked their lives to work with the Americans, only to find themselves left behind as the United States pulled out. --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times A searing account. --The New Yorker Johnson's rage-inducing account of government indifference is a tale of lost innocence that, in our American twilight, feels devastatingly allegorical. --Vogue [A] truly incredible story. --Ira Glass, This American Life It is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this. --The Boston Globe This well-written book--the author is an honest, engaging, and indomitable guide--warrants a special place in nonfiction shelves. --The Daily Beast Harrowing. --Men's Journal A must-read memoir. --Philadelphia Inquirer A poignant story...a fascinating and intimate look at the inner workings of military occupation and its effects. --Los Angeles Review of Books A well-written account of one man's righteous quest to overcome government bureaucracy. --Kirkus Reviews An essential book. --Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War -- [A] thrilling read. --Bustle, The 9 Most Anticipated True Crime Books of 2018 [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 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 The Feather Thief is 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 This extraordinary book exposes an international underground that traffics in rare and precious natural resources, yet was previously unknown to all but a few. A page-turning read you won't soon forget, The Feather Thief tells us as much about our cultural priorities as it does about the crimes themselves. There's never been anything like it. --Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs Praise for To Be a Friend is Fatal Beautifully written...A deeply personal and poignant story. --Azar Nafisi Riveting, darkly funny, heroic, and shaming. --George Packer I have long been an admirer of Kirk Johnson--for his humanitarian advocacy on behalf of forgotten Iraqis and for his honest and poetic writing. --David Finkel Devastating...To Be a Friend Is Fatal [tells the story of] interpreters and aid workers who risked their lives to work with the Americans, only to find themselves left behind as the United States pulled out. --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times A searing account. --The New Yorker Johnson's rage-inducing account of government indifference is a tale of lost innocence that, in our American twilight, feels devastatingly allegorical. --Vogue [A] truly incredible story. --Ira Glass, This American Life It is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this. --The Boston Globe This well-written book--the author is an honest, engaging, and indomitable guide--warrants a special place in nonfiction shelves. --The Daily Beast Harrowing. --Men's Journal A must-read memoir. --Philadelphia Inquirer A poignant story...a fascinating and intimate look at the inner workings of military occupation and its effects. --Los Angeles Review of Books A well-written account of one man's righteous quest to overcome government bureaucracy. --Kirkus Reviews An essential book. --Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War [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 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 The Feather Thief is 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 This extraordinary book exposes an international underground that traffics in rare and precious natural resources, yet was previously unknown to all but a few. A page-turning read you won't soon forget, The Feather Thief tells us as much about our cultural priorities as it does about the crimes themselves. There's never been anything like it. --Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs Praise for To Be a Friend is Fatal Beautifully written...A deeply personal and poignant story. --Azar Nafisi Riveting, darkly funny, heroic, and shaming. --George Packer I have long been an admirer of Kirk Johnson--for his humanitarian advocacy on behalf of forgotten Iraqis and for his honest and poetic writing. --David Finkel Devastating...To Be a Friend Is Fatal [tells the story of] interpreters and aid workers who risked their lives to work with the Americans, only to find themselves left behind as the United States pulled out. --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times A searing account. --The New Yorker Johnson's rage-inducing account of government indifference is a tale of lost innocence that, in our American twilight, feels devastatingly allegorical. --Vogue [A] truly incredible story. --Ira Glass, This American Life It is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this. --The Boston Globe This well-written book--the author is an honest, engaging, and indomitable guide--warrants a special place in nonfiction shelves. --The Daily Beast Harrowing. --Men's Journal A must-read memoir. --Philadelphia Inquirer A poignant story...a fascinating and intimate look at the inner workings of military occupation and its effects. --Los Angeles Review of Books A well-written account of one man's righteous quest to overcome government bureaucracy. --Kirkus Reviews An essential book. --Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War Praise for To Be a Friend is Fatal Beautifully written...A deeply personal and poignant story. --Azar Nafisi Riveting, darkly funny, heroic, and shaming. --George Packer I have long been an admirer of Kirk Johnson--for his humanitarian advocacy on behalf of forgotten Iraqis and for his honest and poetic writing. --David Finkel Devastating...To Be a Friend Is Fatal [tells the story of] interpreters and aid workers who risked their lives to work with the Americans, only to find themselves left behind as the United States pulled out. --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times A searing account. --The New Yorker Johnson's rage-inducing account of government indifference is a tale of lost innocence that, in our American twilight, feels devastatingly allegorical. --Vogue [A] truly incredible story. --Ira Glass, This American Life It is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this. --The Boston Globe This well-written book--the author is an honest, engaging, and indomitable guide--warrants a special place in nonfiction shelves. --The Daily Beast Harrowing. --Men's Journal A must-read memoir. --Philadelphia Inquirer A poignant story...a fascinating and intimate look at the inner workings of military occupation and its effects. --Los Angeles Review of Books A well-written account of one man's righteous quest to overcome government bureaucracy. --Kirkus Reviews An essential book. --Dexter Filkins, author of The Forever War

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