Books  General Natural History 

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


By: Kirk Wallace Johnson(Author)


Hardback | 2018 | #239692 | ISBN-13: 9781786330130
Available for pre-order: Due Apr 2018 Details
Pre-pub offer: £16.99 £19.99 (Save £3.00) $24/€19 approx

About this book

Who is Edwin Rist? Genius? Narcissist? Felon? Mastermind? Pawn? Liar? One summer evening in 2009, twenty-year-old musical prodigy Edwin Rist broke into the British Museum of Natural History. Hours later, he slipped away with a suitcase full of rare bird specimens collected over the centuries from across the world, all featuring a dazzling array of priceless feathers.

Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-deep in a river in New Mexico when he first heard about the heist, from his fly-fishing guide. When he discovered that the thief evaded prison, and that half the birds were never recovered, Johnson embarked upon a years-long worldwide investigation which led him deep into the fiercely secretive underground community obsessed with the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying.

A page-turning story of a bizarre and shocking crime, The Feather Thief shines a light on our fraught relationship with the natural world's most beautiful and valuable wonders, and one man's relentless quest for justice.

"[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

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Kirk W. Johnson is an American author and founder of The List Project, a not-for-profit foundation that helps Iraqi refugees who previously worked for the U.S. government during the Iraq War. He lives in LA.

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