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The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and…
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The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the… (original 2018; udgave 2019)

af Kirk Wallace Johnson (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
6253628,010 (4.04)61
"On a cool June evening in 2009, 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 150 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."--Page [2] of cover.… (mere)
Medlem:AlexaYM
Titel:The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
Forfattere:Kirk Wallace Johnson (Forfatter)
Info:Penguin Books (2019), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Vurdering:
Nøgleord:Ingen

Detaljer om værket

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century af Kirk Wallace Johnson (2018)

  1. 00
    The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History af Elizabeth Kolbert (schmootc)
    schmootc: This is another non-fiction book about natural history. It basically sketches out how a lot of those birds ended up being so scarce/extinct to begin with and scared the crap out of me at least about what's going to happen next.
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Viser 1-5 af 36 (næste | vis alle)
As a birder and someone lost in admiration of Alfred Russell Wallace, I'm a captive audience right off the shelf. Throw in a wonderful, funny, heartbreaking cameo appearance by Richard Prum (ornithologist, evolutionary scholar, and author of the lovely and important "Evolution of Beauty"), and I'm sold. And even as the daughter of a lifelong trout fisherman, I had no clue about the existence of the obsessive-to-the-point-of-menacing underworld of salmon fly-tiers, so I learned (gulp) a lot.

Johnson writes briskly, vividly and skillfully in his tale of a strange, brilliant young man, Edwin Rist. Rist is a gifted flautist, studying at London's Royal Academy of Music. He has also been a rock star in the fly-tying world since he was in his teens. The world, it would seem, lay open before him. But he wants money to buy a $20,000 gold flute. So he takes a rock and a suitcase, busts through a window at the Tring Museum, home to one of the finest and most important ornithology collections in the world, walks out with nearly 300 bird skins (a number of which had been collected by Wallace himself - which made me nearly weep with helpless fury), gets on a train and goes home. And proceeds to start cutting up and selling feathers from these irreplaceable, rare, endangered and stunningly beautiful birds on eBay. To these amoral jerks for whom dyed turkey feathers aren't good enough to tie flies... which salmon will either bite on or not, depending on their mood and the weather... but it doesn't really matter because these guys (and it does seem they are all guys) don't fish anyway. They just tie flies. Admittedly, the flies themselves are absolutely beautiful: works of art, really - see some of photos in the book or a few samples at http://ronnlucassr.com/fly-gallaries/edwin-anton-rist/.

Edwin is caught quite quickly. He still has many of the specimens he stole, and almost immediately admits what he's done. A handful of his buyers return the skins they bought from him, but damaged and unlabeled, so are a total loss in the context of scientific knowledge and analysis. Edwin has good lawyers. And a hired psychologist who says he has Asperger's syndrome. [SPOILER ALERT!] So he walks on a suspended sentence and a fine. He goes home, his life as a musician resumes and that's it.

It's infuriating. In the remainder of the book, Johnson focuses more on his own obsession: he wants to find the rest of the missing skins. He doesn't. He does get to spend most of a day in a German hotel room, interviewing Rist, an unrepentant, clever, charming bullshitter. After years of hunting and brooding and interviewing and more trolling the internet than most people could bear, Johnson has to let it go. And returns to a cold New Mexican trout stream to cleanse his spirit. This is perhaps the less successful part of the book (except for the Prum interview) and could have been a summary chapter instead of nearly 100 pages.

Fascinating, fast-moving, weird, colorful, and disturbing. Definitely recommended. ( )
  JulieStielstra | May 17, 2021 |
Really interesting and enjoyable, but unsatisfying ending. ( )
  suedutton | Feb 7, 2021 |
Within an hour of hearing about this book on This American Life, I was listening to the excellently narrated audio version. Though some reviewers' ratings were influenced by their level of interest in birds, I never considered that because that was just one piece of the story. The audaciousness of the heist itself, then the ensuing missteps by the museum, left me shaking my head. Then there's the flytying community that, while feigning indignation over the theft, was actually hostile toward natural history. And Edwin Rist himself, whom I originally thought a bungling simpleton, but I ultimately found cunning, self-absorbed, and unremorseful. (I supposed he could be all that.) And all this while learning new things about the natural history of birds and the great Alfred Russel Wallace, who's been so largely underappreciated by history. ( )
  GiGiGo | Feb 5, 2021 |
More interesting than you think it would be. ( )
  tduvally | Sep 16, 2020 |
More interesting than you think it would be. ( )
  tduvally | Sep 16, 2020 |
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"On a cool June evening in 2009, 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 150 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."--Page [2] of cover.

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