The Feather Thief

By Kirk Wallace Johnson,

Book cover of The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

Book description

As heard on NPR's This American Life

"Absorbing . . . Though it's non-fiction, The Feather Thief contains many of the elements of a classic thriller." -Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air

"One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever." -Christian Science Monitor

A rollicking true-crime adventure and a…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Feather Thief as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book, by Kirk Wallace Johnson tells the story of a bizarre heist that took place at the British Museum of Natural History in 2009.

The thief, Edwin Rist, was a 20-year-old American flute student who broke into the museum to steal hundreds of priceless, exotic bird specimens, many of which were collected by the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in the 19th century.

What first drew me to the book was that I knew Edwin’s dad back when I was in grad school. But what kept me turning the pages was the writing and story. The book explores the world…

This book investigates the case of a British college student who, in 2009, broke into a suburban London museum and stole over 100 rare bird skins. The tale of how he pulled it off, the intrigue that ensued, the strange underground world of exotic fly fishing ties, and the implications for research and the loss to science of the violation of this collection, are absolutely riveting. How contemporary scientists are still learning new things from century-old bird specimens, the inner workings of museums, and the profound scope of bird extinction in the 20th century are just some of the things…

From Melissa's list on natural history.

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