The Feather Thief: ~ by Kirk Wallace Johnson

I was really wanting something good to read and there seemed like so many to choose from until I got to actually picking one –  then I stalled.   Oh dear –   I wanted some good juicy nonfiction book –  not crime,  not politics,   what??? –

Aha!   I’d just recently added a new release to my wish list – kind of true crime,  in a quirky kind of way –  The Feather Thief  by Kirk Wallace Johnson.   The story of a young man who broke into a museum of natural history and stole a bunch,  a big bunch,  of stuffed birds.   Yeah?  Hmmmm….  got good reviews.  I gave it a try and I’m glad I did.


The Feather Thief:  Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
by Kirk Wallace Johnson
2018 / 320 pages
read by MacLeod Andrews – 8h 4m
rating –  8.5 / nonfiction

Edwin Rist, the thief,  wanted exotic birds with eye-catching, iridescent plumage.  He wanted to create flies but he needed materials which were expensive.   While in London on a visit from  the US,  he visited and then broke into the British Natural History Museum at Tring.   He took as many specialty birds  as his small suitcase and backpack would bear.  He went home and proceeded to sell the feathers and skins in the right places,  but fairly quickly,  the police caught up with him.   So then comes the trial and the aftermath.

Johnson goes through  all this with some energy and interest but the good stuff happens after the deal is done.   Trying to get all those specimens back was quite another problem..   At each level the reader thinks this must be the end of the story but … no… it goes on and it gets better.   Happy reading.   🙂


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2 Responses to The Feather Thief: ~ by Kirk Wallace Johnson

  1. Carmen says:

    Quirky indeed! What possessed him?! 😉


    • He needed the money – totally common – but bird bodies to sell the feathers? It’s amazing how pricy fly-tieing can be. And I think finding a place online to sell them had something to do with inspiring him. Sad.


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