The Feather Thief
Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
“A fascinating true crime book, The Feather Thief recounts the theft of more than 200 bird skins from a museum in England. Along the way, Johnson also covers Darwin contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace's travels to acquire birds of paradise, the theory of evolution, and the decimation of bird species in the name of fashion. It is a book about obsession, from the fly-tying community's hunt for specific bird species to Johnson's own need for justice and closure after the case is resolved. This is a gripping, multifaceted book about our need to possess beauty in the name of historical authenticity.”Anton Bogomazov, Politics & Prose
“The Feather Thief is true crime at its best — a tale starting with the Amazonian explorations of Darwin-era naturalists, rooted in the eccentric sensibilities of Victorian collectors, fueled by the obscure cult of fly-fishing tying, and culminating with a shocking 2009 British Museum heist by a shy American flautist. All of these elements are deftly brought together at a thriller’s pace by author Kirk Johnson, a veteran of the Iraqi reconstruction effort suffering from PTSD, who stumbles across the story while fly-fishing in New Mexico in 2011. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.”Keltie, Parnassus Books
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