[download] The Feather Thief Author Kirk Wallace Johnson – Andy-palmer.co.uk

The Feather Thief Described as the pursuit of justice in the feather underground, Kirk Wallace Johnson s The Feather Thief Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century delivers Picking this book up, I wasn t sure what to expect One thing for sure is that this book is about so muchthan the crime Edwin Rist stealing somewhere in the range of 1M worth of rare feathers primarily collected during the Victorian era In a very accessible way, Johnson recounts the obsession of Victorians to Described as the pursuit of justice in the feather underground, Kirk Wallace Johnson s The Feather Thief Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century delivers Picking this book up, I wasn t sure what to expect One thing for sure is that this book is about so muchthan the crime Edwin Rist stealing somewhere in the range of 1M worth of rare feathers primarily collected during the Victorian era In a very accessible way, Johnson recounts the obsession of Victorians to collect things including rare bird feathers which pushed specific bird populations to extinction or the brink of extinction Enter present day fly tiers who are obsessed with creating ties with the those rare and exotic feathers and are not overly concerned where these feathers come from Insightful and compelling 4.25 stars Deciding to read The Feather Thief should really come down to how much you want to know about birds Birds are animals I m perfectly willing to appreciate at a distance but, barring a series of childhood budgies, they ve never been my particular thing All the same, I ve got mad respect for Darwin, Wallace, and their culture rupturing scientific discovery made possible by tropical birds, so I thought this book would be up my alley.The bad thing about this audiobook is that the first half seemed Deciding to read The Feather Thief should really come down to how much you want to know about birds Birds are animals I m perfectly willing to appreciate at a distance but, barring a series of childhood budgies, they ve never been my particular thing All the same, I ve got mad respect for Darwin, Wallace, and their culture rupturing scientific discovery made possible by tropical birds, so I thought this book would be up my alley.The bad thing about this audiobook is that the first half seemed endlessly dull to me I found myself trying the limits of my aural capacity, speeding up the narrator s voice to a comical clip as he talked about the history of bird collections and the fly tying community Some of the history was alright, but the chain of custody for Wallace s birds put me into a despondent state that was only deepened by the fly tiers I just didn t get it What s , when I wasn t sold on the fly tying, I couldn t get into Edwin Rist s obsession with the archaic practice that drove him to steal a suitcase full of birds.Luckily, by a little over the halfway mark, Kirk W Johnson begins to lay out his own obsession with the case of stolen bird feathers and heads out on what ends up being a pretty exciting investigation Even though I was often bored for the first half, I ended up being compelled by what turned out to be a less obvious crime than I d initially assumed Indeed, the later chapters when Johnson begins to interview the fly tying community, hunt down the lost feathers, and struggle to balance his personal life with the hunt for justice amount to a story that reminded me a bit of the podcast Serial.I don t know that I can give this a ringing endorsement, after all I almost considered giving up and moving on through most of the book What I can offer is a suggestion pick this one up if you have an interest in birds, but dodge it if you are coming for a true crime thriller alone An online forum recently posted a list of true crime without murder or violence The Feather Thief Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century would fit the bill as no murder nor physical harm befalls any person Yet is any crime without a victim Each reader would come up with a different list of who or what was affected by the events that are related in this book Perhaps not as disturbing as the loss of life or a brutal rape or abuse, but still a story of devastating loss An online forum recently posted a list of true crime without murder or violence The Feather Thief Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century would fit the bill as no murder nor physical harm befalls any person Yet is any crime without a victim Each reader would come up with a different list of who or what was affected by the events that are related in this book Perhaps not as disturbing as the loss of life or a brutal rape or abuse, but still a story of devastating loss I could not summarize what this book is about better than this quote from author, Kirk Wallace JohnsonInitially, the story of the Tring heist filled with quirky and obsessive individuals, strange birds, curio filled museums, archaic fly recipes, Victorian hats, plume smugglers, grave robbers, and, at the heart of it all, a flute playing thief had been a welcome diversion from the unrelenting pressure of my work with refugees It is always fascinating to hear where the idea of a book is born In the above quote Johnson refers to his work with refugees, this being his way of righting a wrong he saw first hand in his job reconstructing the Iraqi city of Fallujah Overtired, he walked out a window which he refers to as a PTSD triggered fugue state in which he nearly died While recovering he launched a non profit to help the refugees but when he needed a break it was trout fishing that provided relaxation Quietly fishing the Red River in Taos, New Mexico with fly fishing guide Spencer Seim, he first heard the name Edwin Rist, one of the best fly tiers on the planet who Seim went on to saybroke into the British Museum of Natural History just to get birds for these fliesThis one brief conversation soon became an obsession with Johnson to find out the true story, what really happened during the robbery at Tring where drawers of bird specimens came to be stored during World War II, in the mansion of Lord Walter Rothschild What motivated Rist an American talented musician and fly tier to commit this crime The outcome, the finished book, proved to be all that I love in narrative non fiction It is a detailed exploration of not only the history of the intricacy and craft of ties and their creators but also the background of the birds, their role in evolution, the beauty of their plumes which were used for fashion almost to the extinction of some species imagine a shawl made from 8,000 Hummingbird skins and the quest to ensure their continued existence My craving for adventure came in the story of Alfred Russell Wallace, a contemporary of Darwin, whose first expedition to collect specimens in exotic places ended with all being lost in a ship fire Eightyears of perseverance netted Wallace many species including 8,050 birds which were sold to the British Museum Extensive research and the interweaving of these themes by Johnson kept The Feather Thief from being mundane, instead it was thrillingly captivating It is bound to be one of my favorite books not only of 2018 but of all time I only wish there had beenphotos of the birds whose feathers were a primary picture of the story The many birding guides on my shelf satisfied my thirst for the splendor of these magnificent creatures The Feather Thief is a delightful read that successfully combines many genres biography, true crime, ornithology, history, travel and memoir to tell the story of an audacious heist of rare bird skins from the Natural History Museum at Tring in 2009 Somehow I managed not to hear about it at the time, but it was huge news in terms of museum collections and endangered species crime The tendrils of this thorny case wind around Victorian explorers, tycoons, and fashionistas through to modern ob The Feather Thief is a delightful read that successfully combines many genres biography, true crime, ornithology, history, travel and memoir to tell the story of an audacious heist of rare bird skins from the Natural History Museum at Tring in 2009 Somehow I managed not to hear about it at the time, but it was huge news in terms of museum collections and endangered species crime The tendrils of this thorny case wind around Victorian explorers, tycoons, and fashionistas through to modern obsessions with music, fly fishing and refugees.Author Kirk Wallace Johnson worked for USAID in Iraq, heading up the reconstruction of Fallujah, then founded a non profit organization rehoming refugees in America Plagued by PTSD, he turned to fly fishing as therapy, and this was how he heard about the curious case of Edwin Rist, who stole the bird specimens from Tring to sell the bright feathers to fellow hobbyists who tie elaborate Victorian style fishing flies.Rist, from upstate New York, was a 20 year old flautist studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London Since age 11 he d been fixated on fly tying, especially old fashioned salmon ties, which use exotic feathers or ordinary ones dyed to look like them An online friend told him he should check out Tring the museum Walter Rothschild s financier father built for him as a twenty first birthday present when he got to London In 2008 Rist scoped out the collection, pretending to be photographing the birds of paradise for a friend s book.A year later he took the train to Tring one summer night with an empty suitcase and a glass cutter, broke in through a window, stole 300 bird skins, and made it back to his flat without incident The museum only discovered the crime a month later, by accident Rist sold many feathers and whole birds via a fly tying forum and on eBay It was nearly another year and a half before the police knocked on his door, having been alerted by a former law enforcement officer who encountered a museum grade bird skin at the Dutch Fly Fair and asked where it came from.Here is where things get really interesting, at least for me Rist confessed immediately, but a psychological evaluation diagnosed him with Asperger s on the strength of that mental health defense he was given a suspension and a large fine, but no jail time, so he graduated from the Royal Academy as normal and auditioned for jobs The precedent was a case from 2000 in which a young man with Asperger s who stole human remains from a Bristol graveyard was exonerated.The book is in three parts the first gives historical context about specimen collection and the early feather trade the second is a blow by blow of Rist s crime and the aftermath, including the trial and the third goes into Wallace s own investigation process He started by attending a fly tying symposium, where he felt like an outsider and even received vague threats Rist was now a no go subject for this community But Wallace wasn t going to be deterred Sixty four bird skins were still missing, and his quest was to track them down He started by contacting Rist s confirmed customers, then interviewed Rist himself in Germany and traveled to Norway to meet someone who might have been Rist s accomplice or fall guy.I happened to be a bit too familiar with the related history I ve read a lot of books that touch on Alfred Russel Wallace, whose specimens formed the core of the Tring collection, as well as a whole book on the feather trade for women s hats and the movement against the extermination, which led to the formation of the Audubon Society Kris Radish s The Year of Necessary Lies This meant that I was a little impatient with the first few chapters, but if you are new to these subjects you shouldn t have that problem For me the highlights were the reconstruction of the crime itself and Wallace s inquiry into whether the Asperger s diagnosis was accurate and a fair excuse for Rist s behavior.This whole story is stranger than fiction, which would make it a great selection for readers who don t often pick up nonfiction, perhaps expecting it to be dry or taxing Far from it This is the very best sort of nonfiction wide ranging, intelligent and gripping.Originally published, with images, on my blog, Bookish Beck Haven t read something so engrossing all year What a fascinating and exciting book FLY A fishhook dressed as with feathers or tinsel to suggest an insect While not a fly fisherman, I myself am an avid fisherman The author Kirk Johnson was fly fishing with a friend several years ago when he learned the fascinating and bizarre story of a young American man named Edwin Rist At the age of 20, Edwin broke into the British Museum of Natural History s ornithological building and stole 299 rare bird specimens skins Many of these birds had been collected by the famous natural FLY A fishhook dressed as with feathers or tinsel to suggest an insect While not a fly fisherman, I myself am an avid fisherman The author Kirk Johnson was fly fishing with a friend several years ago when he learned the fascinating and bizarre story of a young American man named Edwin Rist At the age of 20, Edwin broke into the British Museum of Natural History s ornithological building and stole 299 rare bird specimens skins Many of these birds had been collected by the famous naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who was a contemporary of Charles Darwin Edwin was a music student in England and was an accomplished flautist, with a bright future ahead of him playing professionally in Berlin upon graduation Why on earth would a gifted flute player commit such an odd crime as specimen theft from a museum In THE FEATHER THIEF, Kirk Wallace Johnson superbly weaves history, art, fishing, and colorful personalities into a completely engrossing true crime adventure I knew of course about trout flies used for fishing, and how they are tied and crafted with materials to resemble various kinds of insects However, I had never heard of the art of Victorian Salmon Fly tying This type of fly tying is really seen as an intricate art form, and most salmon fly tiers do not even fish And while trout flies are quite small, Salmon flies are much larger and when completed can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars There is also a great salmon fly tiers fraternity featuring shows and competitions At an early age, Edwin Rist was not only obsessed with becoming a master flautist, but also becoming the greatest salmon fly tier in the world Both he and his brother Anton had discovered this hobby as boys, were given lessons, and worked voraciously to perfect their craft Of course the main component of salmon fly tying is bird feathers And historically, not just any old feathers will do The earliest salmon fly tiers used feathers form the Birds of Paradise, the Resplendent Quetzel, the Blue Chatterer, and the Indian Crow among many others At the end of the 19th century, bird populations world wide dropped so dramatically from over harvesting mostly for ladies hats that conservation groups were finally formed and helped to put an end to the mass slaughter and import export of certain birds Flash forward to the 21st century when salmon fly tying was still popular, but it was very difficult to obtain exotic bird skins Naturally, many tiers substitutedcommon species, or used dyed feathers from domestic fowl But there was still an open market to buy the feathers of rarer birds, and packets of Indian Crow or Blue Chatterer feathers could sell for hundreds of dollars on the internet So, in his obsession to possess the finest bird skins in the world, Edwin Rist visited the Tring museum north of London and began devising a plan to steal rare bird skins for himself, as well as to sell to others At the time, Edwin had worked very hard to indeed become one of the greatest fly tiers in the world Would his plan be successful, or an ultimate failure Read THE FEATHER THIEF to discover for yourself What a mesmerizing and absorbing story I look forward to the next book by Kirk Wallace Johnson What an adventure centered around the dedication of the author to try to rectify a theft from the Natural History Museum in Tring England The thief had an obsession with obtaining rare bird feathers for making fishing lures, but not necessarily to fish with Apparently there is a group of people who will pay tons of money for the rarest of bird feathers to create these lures despite the fact that these birds are killed for this very purpose There is a lot of history in this book on the destr What an adventure centered around the dedication of the author to try to rectify a theft from the Natural History Museum in Tring England The thief had an obsession with obtaining rare bird feathers for making fishing lures, but not necessarily to fish with Apparently there is a group of people who will pay tons of money for the rarest of bird feathers to create these lures despite the fact that these birds are killed for this very purpose There is a lot of history in this book on the destruction of animals, especially birds especially for fashion and the exclusivity of ownership This is a true crime, fascinating journey to attempt to bring to justice the feather thief who manages to manipulate and evade the consequences that he deserved On A Cool June Evening In , After Performing A Concert At London S Royal Academy Of Music, Twenty Year Old American Flautist Edwin Rist Boarded A Train For A Suburban Outpost Of The British Museum Of Natural History Home To One Of The Largest Ornithological Collections In The World, The Tring Museum Was Full Of Rare Bird Specimens Whose Gorgeous Feathers Were Worth Staggering Amounts Of Money To The Men Who Shared Edwin S Obsession The Victorian Art Of Salmon Fly Tying Once Inside The Museum, The Champion Fly Tier Grabbed Hundreds Of Bird Skins Some Collected Years Earlier By A Contemporary Of Darwin S, Alfred Russel Wallace, Who D Risked Everything To Gather Them And Escaped Into The Darkness Two Years Later, Kirk Wallace Johnson Was Waist High In A River In Northern New Mexico When His Fly Fishing Guide Told Him About The Heist He Was Soon Consumed By The Strange Case Of The Feather Thief What Would Possess A Person To Steal Dead Birds Had Edwin Paid The Price For His Crime What Became Of The Missing Skins In His Search For Answers, Johnson Was Catapulted Into A Years Long, Worldwide Investigation The Gripping Story Of A Bizarre And Shocking Crime, And One Man S Relentless Pursuit Of Justice, The Feather Thief Is Also A Fascinating Exploration Of Obsession, And Man S Destructive Instinct To Harvest The Beauty Of Nature This is the truly amazing story of how a twenty year old American flute prodigy pulled off an unbelievable museum heist of rare and exotic bird skins and feathers Edwin Risk loved music but also was quite enthralled in the world of fly fish tying He spent hours perfecting his craft and while still a young teenager, became a master tier within the competitive and elusive world In 2009 while studying at London s Royal Academy of Music, Edwin began to put forth a plan to steal rare bird specimen This is the truly amazing story of how a twenty year old American flute prodigy pulled off an unbelievable museum heist of rare and exotic bird skins and feathers Edwin Risk loved music but also was quite enthralled in the world of fly fish tying He spent hours perfecting his craft and while still a young teenager, became a master tier within the competitive and elusive world In 2009 while studying at London s Royal Academy of Music, Edwin began to put forth a plan to steal rare bird specimens from the British Museum of Natural History in hopes to sell to wealthy tiers so he may be able to purchase himself a new flute Kirk Wallace Johnson painstakingly unfolded this crime which was both peculiar and scandalous This telling explored Edwin s consuming passion and fascination His greed and lust forced him to ignore the devastating consequences of his actions resulting in a major blow to the nature community An outstanding page turner Seabiscuit The River of Doubt The Devil and the White City Into the Wild The Perfect Storm If you re a fan of these fascinating works of non fiction, then grab hold of this story of the feather thief before he gets away with it The book was recommended to me by a friend who is not known for reading much, and his thrilled response to it had me intrigued.There is a theft involved, of course, but Kirk Wallace Johnson does a fine job enough to make me wince repeatedly of bringing into focu Seabiscuit The River of Doubt The Devil and the White City Into the Wild The Perfect Storm If you re a fan of these fascinating works of non fiction, then grab hold of this story of the feather thief before he gets away with it The book was recommended to me by a friend who is not known for reading much, and his thrilled response to it had me intrigued.There is a theft involved, of course, but Kirk Wallace Johnson does a fine job enough to make me wince repeatedly of bringing into focus the massacre of millions of birds simply because they re pretty In the 1800s, wildly ostentatious plumed hats were the rage Collecting beautiful and dead animals was en vogue But today Today I m not telling you why these beautiful feathers were stolen Read the book When I started this account which opens with the theft itself , I kept ignoring that the suitcase used for the heist had wheels I repressed the fact that the glass cutter had been bought online The whole museum break in for FEATHERS felt like something out of an Agatha Christie or Ian Fleming story But no here, we learn about illegal eBay sales, feel safer when the author drops a pin on his phone when meeting a shady character, and uses screenshots of Facebook pics for evidence this massive theft just happened, like ten years ago Oooo, do I have opinions about the talented teenager involved Man, am I feeling compelled to discuss this crazy heist But most of all, I am floored over the worldwide obsession that fed the entire thing This book did not leave me feeling happy or touched, just agog and a bit angry If you re up for it, I highly recommend it.PS If you re curious about the stolen goods, all of which were antique zoological specimens that were labeled to show precisely where each specimen came from, the date, andTake a peek at something similar to what was stolen follow the link below This actual seller s handle was mentioned in the book, so of course, I had to look But I d neither buy or steal


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