The Feather Thief

The Feather Thief

Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
On a cool June evening in 2009, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist grabbed hundreds of bird skins - some collected 150 years earlier - and escaped into the darkness. Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? This is the gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice. Print run 50,000.
Publisher: New York :, Viking,, [2018]
ISBN: 9781101981610
Branch Call Number: 364.1628598 JO
Characteristics: x, 308 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Dec 12, 2018

I tend to agree with 'juniperwind' review. I skipped ahead frequently & didn't lose anything. What is remarkable is getting into the BHM for this theft - it is a wonderous section of the museum, one day cannot possibly cover the visit.

Oct 22, 2018

A gripping and fast-paced tale of true crime that takes the reader from the dark side of fly fishing and the feather black market to the site of a heist of rare bird skins from the Natural History Museum at Tring in 2009.

Oct 12, 2018

Loved this book! It's very fascinating!

Aug 10, 2018

I am impressed with the author's background and the synchronicity of events that led him down the path of bird feather whisperer. Johnson, former coordinator of reconstructing Fallujah for USAID, happens upon the story of Edwin Rist who managed to rob the Tring Museum of rare and endangered bird feathers in order to satiate the obsession of tie fliers world-wide. We get background stories of feather fashion fetish of the late 1800's, the unfathomable search, discovery, and collection of rare birds by Alfred Russel Wallace, and later legislation to stop the sale of these skins. However, the piece de resistance is Rist's heist and it's consequence worldwide in the underground of tie fliers and Johnson's obsession to bring closure to the mystery surrounding it.

DPLjennyp Jul 26, 2018

An interesting and enjoyable read.

JessicaGma Jun 26, 2018

An interesting look at a caper for endangered feathers - I never would have guessed there was a community looking to recreate authentic Victorian fish ties.... I am annoyed that he took apart a museum collection thinking no one would use it; that's some serious ignorance.

Jun 24, 2018

While the story of the heist and Rist is a strange tale and the author does his best to tell it from all sides, he interweaves too much of his own life into this book without convincing the reader that it is necessary.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at APL

To Top