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The Feather Thief

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Feather Thief by Kirk Johnson

    What a story. Short, easy to read non-fiction, yet engrossing and feels like a true crime novel. I was captivated. Here is my Book Review The Feather Thief by Kirk Johnson

    Birds of a Feather

    Since I fancy myself an amateur birdwatcher, this book really captivated me with some of the history of the fashion rage of the 1800’s that made many birds extinct or nearly. This part of the story will make me even more keenly aware, as we bird watch endangered aviary around the world. Johnson takes the reader through historical accounts from Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s theory’s to climate change and extinction. This, side by side with a remarkable tale of one man’s obsession with feathers, fly-tying and obtaining rare and illegal bird skins.

    Who is Edwin Rist

    This is a true story, but so absurd it is hard to believe. Much of this book reminded me of The Art Thief by Michael Finkle which is also a true story of a brilliant yet deranged young man named Stephane Breitwieser who gets away with stealing art from museums for years.

    Edwin Rist, the young man in the Feather Thief, is a brilliant, flutist and champion fly-tyer. Rist decides to break into the British Natural History Museum in Tring, where he single handedly steals nearly 300 birds from the rare and priceless bird collection. All in one night.

    Why Steal Dead Birds?

    Rist had become deeply engaged in the obsessive world of salmon fly-tyers, an industry of men who will pay significant dollars to obtain the feathers they covet for their art of fly-tying. Rist shamelessly steals the birds, sells the feathers and the skins of some of the rarest and oldest specimens on the planet. With no remorse.

    Kirk W. Johnson will himself become obsessed with Rist and the heist and the pursuit of justice. Johnson will spend years researching the files, looking for the missing birds and eventually interviewing Rist himself. The culmination will be this bizarre story of this shocking crime and the man with singular obsession with feathers who gets away with the crime.

    *****Five stars for The Feather Thief by Kirk W. Johnson.

    Thank you for reading my Book Review The Feather Thief by Kirk Johnson

    See last week’s book review The Berry Pickers by Amanda Peters.

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