The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century Audiobook, by Kirk Wallace Johnson Play Audiobook Sample

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

The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century Audiobook, by Kirk Wallace Johnson Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: MacLeod Andrews Publisher: Penguin Audio Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 5.33 hours at 1.5x Speed 4.00 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: April 2018 Format: Unabridged Audiobook ISBN: 9780525530060

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

55:21 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

15 seconds

Average Chapter Length:

16:42 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Other Audiobooks Written by Kirk Wallace Johnson: > View All...

Publisher 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 captivating journey into an underground world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, for readers of The Stranger in the WoodsThe Lost City of Z, and The Orchid Thief. 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.

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“A heist story that manages to underline the enduring and continuing importance of natural history collections and their incredible value to science. We need more books like this one.”

— Science 


  • “A riveting read.”

    — Nature
  • “Fascinating from the first page to the last—you won’t be able to put it down.”

    — Southern Living
  • “One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever…Johnson is an intrepid journalist…[with] a fine knack for uncovering details that reveal, captivate, and disturb.”

    — Christian Science Monitor
  • “A literary police sketch—part natural history yarn, part detective story, part the stuff of tragedy.”

    — Smithsonian
  • “Nonfiction that reads like fiction, with plenty of surprising moments.”

    — Outside


  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month
  • An Oprah Pick of 10 Titles to Pick Up Now
  • A Paris Review Selection 
  • A Bustle Pick for Mystery Lovers Who Don't Want to Read about Murder
  • A Literary Hub Pick of True Crime Books for Spring
  • Finalist for the 2019 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime Book
  • On the ALA Listen List for Outstanding Audiobook Narration
  • Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Nonfiction

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About Kirk Wallace Johnson

Kirk W. Johnson is the author of The Feather Thief and To Be a Friend Is Fatal and the founder of the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies. His writing has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. He is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the American Academy in Berlin, and the USC Annenberg Center.

About MacLeod Andrews

MacLeod Andrews is an actor, voice actor, and Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator who earned the prestigious Audie Award for best narration in 2018. He has starred in a number of independent short and feature films and is a member of the Rising Phoenix Repertory Company in New York City.