Who Is Edwin Rist?
Genius? Narcissist? Felon? Mastermind? Pawn? Liar?
One summer evening in 2009, twenty-year-old musical prodigy Edwin Rist broke into the British Museum of Natural History. Hours later, he slipped away with a suitcase full of rare bird specimens collected over the centuries from across the world, all featuring a dazzling array of priceless feathers.
Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-deep in a river in New Mexico when he first heard about the heist, from his fly-fishing guide. When he discovered that the thief evaded prison, and that half the birds were never recovered, Johnson embarked upon a years-long worldwide investigation which led him deep into the fiercely secretive underground community obsessed with the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying.
A page-turning story of a bizarre and shocking crime, The Feather Thief shines a light on our fraught relationship with the natural world’s most beautiful and valuable wonders, and one man’s relentless quest for justice.
About the Author
Kirk Wallace Johnson served in Iraq with the US Agency for International Development in Baghdad and Fallujah as the Agency’s first co-ordinator for reconstruction in the war-torn city. He went on to found The List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. His work on behalf of Iraqi refugees was profiled by This American Life, 60 Minutes, the Today Show, the subject of a feature-length documentary, The List, and a memoir, To Be a Friend is Fatal.
"The Feather Thief truly is a tale of obsession ... A wonderfully assured writer, [Johnson] takes us on a curious journey into the past ... Vivid and arresting" * The Times *
"The Feather Thief is not only a thrilling account of the crime and its aftermath but also a potted history of our relationship with the natural world" * Daily Mail *
"The book is The Orchid Thief for the fly-fishing and birding set: worth its weight in exotic bird feathers, which you'll learn are very expensive" * The Paris Review *
"The Feather Thief is a riveting read. It also stands, I believe, as a reminder of how an obsession with the ornaments of nature - be they feathers, bird eggs or ivory - can wreak havoc on our scientific heritage" * Nature *
"Within pages I was hooked. This is a weird and wonderful book... Johnson is a master of pacing and suspense... it's a tribute to Johnson's storytelling gifts that when I turned the last page I felt bereft" * Spectator *