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Archive: Other Books > The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson - 5 stars

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message 1: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 8361 comments Full title is The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century.

First drawn in by the cover, then the title, I just spent 2 nights staying up way too late to read this page turner, one about fly tying of all things! Johnson tells the fascinating tale of a young flautest, obsessed with "authentic" fly tying using exotic and protected feathers.

That's right. It is all about exotic feathers. Edwin Rist pulled off the biggest natural science museum heist in history. It is an extraordinary tale, and a true crime. It opens with a description of the heist as it occurs, then provides several chapters of history about exotic birds and their plumage, including some graphic descriptions of how scientists trap, kill and prep birds for study, which is then followed with the rest of the story about the heist itself and the aftermath.

I had no idea there was such a subculture of fly tying obsessives - men (and it seems to be only men) who are caught up in tying flies, not in fly fishing itself. In fact, most of them have never fished. And the incredible ease with which Rist was able to rob the museum, astonishing.

There are moral and scientific questions, and some questions remain about (view spoiler).

If there were more true crime books like this, rather than mostly about serial killers, I'd actually like the genre!


message 2: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments I really want to read this one! It sounds delightfully science-y and unique.


message 3: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 8361 comments Nicole R wrote: "I really want to read this one! It sounds delightfully science-y and unique."

There is a lot of science but not overwhelming. Author strikes a remarkable balance and truly writes an engaging story while educating and informing.


message 4: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Ann (auntie-nanuuq) | 753 comments Theresa wrote: "Nicole R wrote: "I really want to read this one! It sounds delightfully science-y and unique."

There is a lot of science but not overwhelming. Author strikes a remarkable balance and truly writes ..."


Sounds good, there is a waiting list, but I am on it!


message 5: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6864 comments This is one which has been on my radar for some time. Good to know that it is a worthy read.


message 6: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 8361 comments Booknblues wrote: "This is one which has been on my radar for some time. Good to know that it is a worthy read."

Definitely a worthy read. A friend read it as soon as it came out and found it "unexpectedly riveting." Another is on her local library wait list for it since June 26th -- She's in Alaska and the local library only has 2 copies!

I was first seduced by its cover, then seduced by the story and writing. Isn't it great when that happens?!


message 7: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6864 comments Theresa wrote: "I was first seduced by its cover, then seduced by the story and writing. Isn't it great when that happens?! "

It is great when it happens. The cover is very inviting. I think I may have heard a snippet of the author talking on NPR one day recently because I listened to a bit of conversation about fly tying and the rare bird feathers which they used.


message 8: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6864 comments I found what I was listening to and thought I would post it here if anyone is interested:

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/654/...

In my search I also found this article:

http://www.capradio.org/news/npr/stor...


message 9: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 8361 comments Booknblues wrote: "I found what I was listening to and thought I would post it here if anyone is interested:

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/654/...

In my search I also found this article:

http://ww..."


Thanks for the links!


message 10: by Amy N. (new)

Amy N. | 256 comments True crime that isn't about serial killers?! I didn't know that was a thing. This sounds kind of interesting.


message 11: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Ann (auntie-nanuuq) | 753 comments Amy N. wrote: "True crime that isn't about serial killers?! I didn't know that was a thing. This sounds kind of interesting."

Not always, have you read anything by Ann Rule? She wrote about actual people murdering their family members & their trials. Fascinating. in the 364s (True Crime Section)


message 12: by Theresa (new)

Theresa | 8361 comments Amy N. wrote: "True crime that isn't about serial killers?! I didn't know that was a thing. This sounds kind of interesting."

Oh yes...robberies, heists, counterfeiting, kudnappibg witnout murder and rape.... true crime books exist for all.


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