Review: The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the CenturyThe Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk W. Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

During almost the entire reading of this book I had to remind myself it was a true story. I think if the author had gone to his publisher with a story about a 20-year-old American student at the Royal Academy of Music in London who broke into a natural history museum to steal rare bird skins/feathers -- some collected by a colleague of Charles Darwin -- so he could sell them to Victorian salmon fly-tying enthusiasts.

The authorities do catch up with the thief, Edwin Rist, but his punishment is less-than-satisfying when you consider the enormity of the crime.

Johnson does explain the importance of these skins and feathers, and how/why he got personally involved, which is just as interesting as the weird crime.

You can hear my interview with Kirk Wallace Johnson here


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