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

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A rollicking true-crime adventure and a thought-provoking exploration of the human drive to possess natural beauty for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The 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 outpos A rollicking true-crime adventure and a thought-provoking exploration of the human drive to possess natural beauty for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The 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 rollicking true-crime adventure and a thought-provoking exploration of the human drive to possess natural beauty for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The 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 outpos A rollicking true-crime adventure and a thought-provoking exploration of the human drive to possess natural beauty for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The 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.

30 review for The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson is a 2019 Penguin publication. This is another book that has sat on my TBR list for an entire year. I added it because it was labeled as true crime and because the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. However, every time I thought about reading it, I changed my mind, because I wasn’t sure if I would fully understand the premise, for one thing, and for another, I was afraid it would bore me silly. It just didn’t sound like a topic that would interest me The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson is a 2019 Penguin publication. This is another book that has sat on my TBR list for an entire year. I added it because it was labeled as true crime and because the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. However, every time I thought about reading it, I changed my mind, because I wasn’t sure if I would fully understand the premise, for one thing, and for another, I was afraid it would bore me silly. It just didn’t sound like a topic that would interest me in the least. I decided I should at least give it a try, because all those positive reviews had to mean something, right? I admit I still don’t fully understand fly fishing, or the obsession with Salmon fliers. I still don’t have any interest in the sport, and I never will- but one thing is for sure- I was never bored while reading this book! It seems there is nothing out there in this world that doesn’t have a dark underbelly… The author of this book first learned of Edwin Rist while fly fishing in Mexico, and quickly became as obsessed with this crime as Edwin Rist was with rare bird skins and Salmon fliers. What are Salmon fliers? Apparently, they are a brightly colored lure, made with bird feathers that mimics small fish, which Salmon will snap at. Victorian, exotic, or rare feathers are highly sought after by collectors and expert ‘tyers’. Edwin Rist, a musician, also happened to be an expert Salmon tyer. To that end, in 2009, Edwin broke into the British Natural History Museum and stole 299 rare bird skins, including 37 Birds of Paradise. Once Kirk Wallace Johnson heard about this most unusual heist, he jumped down the rabbit hole with both feet, beginning a long journey for the truth, which culminated in this book. I don’t understand the concept of being an expert ‘tyer’ if you don’t even fly fish. Not only that, it is my understanding that the salmon can’t tell the difference anyway. It all seemed like such a tremendous waste. The history, however, that sets these events in motion is utterly fascinating, if a bit peculiar. The author traces the origins of the feathers and how they came to be in the museum, which is far more interesting than one might think. From there the book builds into a detective story, then a legal drama, then finally a personal quest for the whole truth and maybe some modicum of justice. Not to give too much away, but evidently, Rist earned some money from his daring heist, selling some of the feathers/ skins on the black market. Yes, there really is a black market for these feathers and a lucrative one at that. I knew one could find all manner of things for sale on eBay but – vintage bird feathers? While Rist was eventually caught, his legal troubles didn’t turn out the way I had anticipated,which is one of the reasons why Johnson felt compelled to draw out as much of the truth as possible. Some mysteries remain unsolved, but one can take a few educated guesses about what happened and why, though that knowledge doesn’t bring about much satisfaction. Today, Rist uses a different name, and has carved out a unique niche for himself by playing heavy metal music with his flute- perhaps the flute he bought with his eBay profits. (Johnson didn’t reveal Rist's assumed name, but a simple Google search brought up his infamous Metallica cover of ‘Master of Puppets’ right away-you have to see it to believe it.) Rist, who claims to suffer from Asperger's syndrome is clever, educated, talented and skilled, and while his crime is not a violent one, he still did a horrible thing- and based on Johnson's exclusive interviews with Rist, he comes off as a greedy, little sociopath who never expressed the proper amount of remorse for his crimes. I’m afraid I did not find him to be sympathetic character at all- sorry, not sorry... As to the writing and organization of the book- the presentation is very well done. However, the author does take an interesting stance here. He took a risk, in my opinion, by inserting himself into the saga by calling out the fly-fishing community for their role in helping to create the atmosphere within in this sub-culture that makes this crime, and others like it, so alluring- and lucrative. He seems to feel they, too are responsible- although his words have probably fallen on deaf ears. I usually become exasperated if an author refuses to maintain strict neutrality when writing nonfiction. I want the facts, not the author's interpretation of them, or his or her opinion. In this case, however, I can understand why Johnson felt compelled to make such a bold move and he was right in doing so. Ultimately, this is a fascinating True Crime saga. I found myself immersed in it, more than I ever imagined possible. I learned some interesting history, and a lot about bird feathers/skins, salmon fliers and expert tiers, as well the strange obsessions of men. The greed that results from these obsessions, of course, is a story as old as man. While this may not sound like a book that would appeal to a broad audience, it should. Those familiar with the sport of fly-fishing will understand aspects and nuances many of us never will, about this case, but historians, true crime readers, mystery fans and even fans of legal dramas, will find this to be a very compelling story. 4 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    “Little did I know, my pursuit of justice would mean journeying deep into the feather underground, a world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, cokeheads and big game hunters, ex-detectives and shady dentists." 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 muc “Little did I know, my pursuit of justice would mean journeying deep into the feather underground, a world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, cokeheads and big game hunters, ex-detectives and shady dentists." 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 much more than 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) that 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.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    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 Johnson. ”Initially, 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 say ”broke into the British Museum of Natural History just to get birds for these flies.”. This 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. Eight more years 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 been more photos 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jon Grice

    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 substituted more common 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt Quann

    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 more, 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Haven't read something so engrossing all year. What a fascinating and exciting book! Haven't read something so engrossing all year. What a fascinating and exciting book!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Ray

    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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    LA Cantrell

    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, and more? Take 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. https://www.ebay.com/itm/Golden-Pheas...

  10. 4 out of 5

    KC

    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!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yun

    The Feather Thief tells the true-crime tale of Edwin Rist robbing the British Museum of Natural History of hundreds of irreplaceable bird skins, and the greed, obsession, and twisted logic that had compelled him to do so. For me, the most interesting part of this book was the discussion on birds and how knowledge about them led to scientific breakthroughs around sexual selection. I also enjoyed learning about what museums do with old bird specimens, and how they contribute to scientific progress The Feather Thief tells the true-crime tale of Edwin Rist robbing the British Museum of Natural History of hundreds of irreplaceable bird skins, and the greed, obsession, and twisted logic that had compelled him to do so. For me, the most interesting part of this book was the discussion on birds and how knowledge about them led to scientific breakthroughs around sexual selection. I also enjoyed learning about what museums do with old bird specimens, and how they contribute to scientific progress. The book also spends a lot of time covering Edwin's hobby of fly-tying and its community of hobbyists, and I didn't find that very interesting or palatable. The fact that people would pluck feathers from near extinct or protected birds just to tie a fly that they don't even use to fish (many of them don't know how to fish) is wasteful and silly. It was especially hard to read about their cavalier attitudes towards the robbery, explaining away the disappearance of irreplaceable artifacts by asking why museums needed so many of these bird specimens in the first place. In the end, this book is an interesting tale of an unusual robbery, but my enjoyment of it was curtailed by the greed and attitude of Edwin and his like-minded fly-tying community. I find birds to be fascinating and scientific advancement to be of paramount importance, so it was really hard for me to read about people actively working against that just so they can make trinkets.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily Goenner

    I flew through the first two sections. Johnson provides a history and tells the heist story in a way that makes feathers fascinating. The last section, though, which tells his story of his obsession, was less interesting to me and a shift from telling the story to personalizing the story; the end didn't work for me but the book is well worth the read. I flew through the first two sections. Johnson provides a history and tells the heist story in a way that makes feathers fascinating. The last section, though, which tells his story of his obsession, was less interesting to me and a shift from telling the story to personalizing the story; the end didn't work for me but the book is well worth the read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    I found the first third of this book hyper-exciting, probably because I love reading about 19th century naturalists. The feather trade for fly-fishermen was interesting. But eventually my attention wandered and frankly I wanted the feather thief of the story to get a boulder dropped on his head. Good book, but in the movie adaptation maybe we can have him eaten by a giant bird.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    This fascinating study of obsession begins by exploring the history of nineteenth-century British natural history collecting, the Anglo-American trade in feathers for women's hats, and Victorian salmon fly-tying, providing important context for the central, incredible tale of the 2009 theft of a million dollars worth of rare bird skins from the British Natural History Museum by Edwin Rist, an American student of the flute at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A third section of the book relat This fascinating study of obsession begins by exploring the history of nineteenth-century British natural history collecting, the Anglo-American trade in feathers for women's hats, and Victorian salmon fly-tying, providing important context for the central, incredible tale of the 2009 theft of a million dollars worth of rare bird skins from the British Natural History Museum by Edwin Rist, an American student of the flute at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A third section of the book relates the author's quest to recover skins not confiscated by police during Rist's arrest in 2010. I highly recommend. The Feather Thief was the first audiobook I downloaded to my phone from my public library's OverDrive service. It was smooth to use and the reading by MacLeod Andrews was excellent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ilana

    Not reviewed, sadly, but I plan on rereading it. Have upgraded my rating to 5 stars this February 2021 because I find myself recommending this book to everyone. Rating: ★★★★½ - Favourites of the year; hope to revisit! I have a very thorough tagging system on LibraryThing. These serve as memory aids. Tags: 19th Century, 21st Century Literature, Nonfiction, Biography, Alfred Russel Wallace, Crime, True Crime, Heist, History, Natural History, Science, Biology, Animals, Birds, Ornithology, Bird Feat Not reviewed, sadly, but I plan on rereading it. Have upgraded my rating to 5 stars this February 2021 because I find myself recommending this book to everyone. Rating: ★★★★½ - Favourites of the year; hope to revisit! I have a very thorough tagging system on LibraryThing. These serve as memory aids. Tags: 19th Century, 21st Century Literature, Nonfiction, Biography, Alfred Russel Wallace, Crime, True Crime, Heist, History, Natural History, Science, Biology, Animals, Birds, Ornithology, Bird Feathers, Exotic Birds, Birds of Paradise, Fishing, Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, Obsession, Specimens, Online Community, Museums, British Museum of Natural History, Mystery, Thriller, Victorian, England, Court Cases, Aspergers, Audiobook, Narrated by MacLeod Andrews, Library Book (National), OverDrive, Acquired in 2019, Read in 2019, Completed June 2019

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jerrie

    I was absolutely captivated by this book! Who knew there was this obsessive group who made salmon fishing ties using the feathers of endangered birds? Amazingly, they often don’t even fish with them and the salmon themselves don’t really care what’s on the tie. For many, it is an art form and an obsession so strong they commit burglary to feed it. This was a great look at wildlife research and a strange subculture at odds with it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Reminds me of The Orchid Thief in its readability and theme.

  18. 4 out of 5

    DeB

    I fortuitously happened upon this title in fellow Goodread’s reviews, and am so delighted for that chance! This is where GR is so invaluable to those of us seeking reading material- perhaps less mainstream- less visible on “bestseller lists”- yet so very, very excellent, and notable in this case as a finalist for the Edgar Award, and a BEST BOOK of the year on many lists- including a semi-finalist for GR Choice Awards. Author Kirk Wallace Johnson found his subject matter quite circuitously, as h I fortuitously happened upon this title in fellow Goodread’s reviews, and am so delighted for that chance! This is where GR is so invaluable to those of us seeking reading material- perhaps less mainstream- less visible on “bestseller lists”- yet so very, very excellent, and notable in this case as a finalist for the Edgar Award, and a BEST BOOK of the year on many lists- including a semi-finalist for GR Choice Awards. Author Kirk Wallace Johnson found his subject matter quite circuitously, as he was recovering from burnout; his efforts to resettle homeless Iraqis had resulted in a case of PTSD, and led to a fishing trip, and a quasi interest in fly fishing. There, he heard about Edwin Rist, a young flautist who had plundered one of the most revered collections of preserved birds, over a hundred years old - to tear apart to sell for the purpose of making fishing flies. In this era, when we are sickened to see Donald Trump’s son Eric flaunt photos of his kill in Africa, and have a stronger sense of conservation, the concerns regarding extinction and the value in maintaining historical scientific data, The Feather Thief provides even greater context regarding what the unimpeded slaughter of birds and animals by the wealthy, as an industry, has sorrowfully cast upon the world. The fashion of feathers, first begun by Marie-Antoinette in 1775, a century later led to two hundred million North American birds being killed every year. Underlying the belief that God would refresh all that was removed, and give back to the entitled, as a blessing from God, “their manifest destiny”, Americans, as, Johnson writes, took the commands literally: ‘ “to fill the earth and subdue it”, and “rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”’ Passenger pigeons were hunted to extinction, bison reduced from millions to three hundred, old growth forests exterminated... The invention of the automobile put the huge hat industry to an end, since women were unable to hold their heads up with these atrocities. But in Britain, streams and rivers became inaccessible to any but the very rich, who owned the rights to the estates. And a fanciful product was created, by the imagination of one man and his book - the aristocratic George Kelson- which insisted upon outlandish bird feathers from lands afar. The “art of fly tying”, notably salmon ties, is one exotic, so rare and esoteric to be unheard of unless you have either read this book or indulged in this obsessive hobby. The heist which Edwin Rist performed was audacious, and devastating... An outstanding narrative. I felt alternatively appalled, indignant, furious and at times, I must admit was a bit squeamish... All of those lovely birds; I simply don’t understand the desire to kill a living being for DECORATION alone. Yes, we wear shoes, use wool, live lives using resources but... trophy hunting is another thing. And despoiling history... Much to think about. The Feather Thief will educate, titillate, frustrate.... and keep you in suspense. Five stars.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Judith E

    Three quarters of this book was fantastic beginning with the author’s in depth study of Alfred Russell Wallace’s search for birds of paradise, his meticulous documentation of species in the Galapagos, and the theories of the origin of the species/survival of the fittest. Then onto the manic collection and destruction of birds in order to make womens’ hats fashionable. And finally the story of Edwin Rist and the theft from the Tring museum, all made a very enjoyable read. Then a downhill slide wh Three quarters of this book was fantastic beginning with the author’s in depth study of Alfred Russell Wallace’s search for birds of paradise, his meticulous documentation of species in the Galapagos, and the theories of the origin of the species/survival of the fittest. Then onto the manic collection and destruction of birds in order to make womens’ hats fashionable. And finally the story of Edwin Rist and the theft from the Tring museum, all made a very enjoyable read. Then a downhill slide when the author inserted himself into the investigation and which lead to no new information. But, I’m still glad I listened to this to learn about all the above and about the wild and crazy obsession of fly-tying.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Canaves

    FANTASTIC Nonviolent True Crime I had wanted to read this one for the nonviolent true crime roundup I’d done but hadn’t been able to get a copy until now. Now if you’re thinking “But really how interesting can bird specimen theft be?” let me just tell you this book was super interesting from beginning to end, and read like a thriller that I couldn’t put down. Just 10% into the book I felt as if I’d read 10 books worth of information and adventure. You start with a museum heist by a 20-year-old flu FANTASTIC Nonviolent True Crime I had wanted to read this one for the nonviolent true crime roundup I’d done but hadn’t been able to get a copy until now. Now if you’re thinking “But really how interesting can bird specimen theft be?” let me just tell you this book was super interesting from beginning to end, and read like a thriller that I couldn’t put down. Just 10% into the book I felt as if I’d read 10 books worth of information and adventure. You start with a museum heist by a 20-year-old flutist, and then go on historical expeditions with everything from thieving ants, to Charles Darwin, and blackmail. And that’s just the very beginning of this very banana pants true story because why would a university student steal HUNDREDS of rare bird specimens? Well, you see, there is a community of fly tiers which uses, and obsessively covet, the rarest bird feathers. And there’s also the author, a refugee advocate, who got involved in this story and needed to know after the trial what was still unknown and began to investigate himself–because of course this book had plot twists! It’s a fascinating look at a crime (which not only stole property but potential knowledge from the museum), obsession, and man’s destructive need to conquer and own nature. --from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: http://link.bookriot.com/view/56a8200...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Umut

    I absolutely loved this book. It was so fascinating. It's one of those non-fiction books that makes you reach out for Google countless times, or buy other books because you discovered things you didn't know existed, or you didn't know you were interested. That's why I find this book so accomplished. It's about a guy who was obsessed about fly-tying, and eventually broke into Natural History museum to steal irreplaceable bird species and feathers to use for this purpose. The story takes us to the I absolutely loved this book. It was so fascinating. It's one of those non-fiction books that makes you reach out for Google countless times, or buy other books because you discovered things you didn't know existed, or you didn't know you were interested. That's why I find this book so accomplished. It's about a guy who was obsessed about fly-tying, and eventually broke into Natural History museum to steal irreplaceable bird species and feathers to use for this purpose. The story takes us to the times where explorers first started to travel overseas to discover and collect bird species for scientific research. It then explores how these discoveries lead bird feathers to be used brutally in fashion and hobbies like fly-tying. There's a lot of research and information without dumping it on us in a boring way. The book is written in a very engaging language, making the subject matter interesting somehow. I was definitely fascinated with this crime, as well as reading once more about the limitless human cruelty towards nature. Even if you think you're not interested in this, I'd urge you to pick it up because you will be interested when you start reading it :) It made me buy other books for sure. Very well written, very engaging, accomplished look at this crime and history of it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Rubenstein

    Kirk Johnson is known as the founder of the List Project, for resettling Iraqi allies. After some successes, he became despondent, and found this interesting story. In 2009, the flutist Edwin Rist burgled the Natural History Museum at Tring, and stole 399 bird skins. Why? It turns out that these were valuable bird skins, with beautiful ornamental feathers. These feathers receive high prices from collectors who practice the obscure hobby of Victorian fly-tying. And why are these bird skins in the Kirk Johnson is known as the founder of the List Project, for resettling Iraqi allies. After some successes, he became despondent, and found this interesting story. In 2009, the flutist Edwin Rist burgled the Natural History Museum at Tring, and stole 399 bird skins. Why? It turns out that these were valuable bird skins, with beautiful ornamental feathers. These feathers receive high prices from collectors who practice the obscure hobby of Victorian fly-tying. And why are these bird skins in the museum in the first place? Many of them were originally collected by Alfred Russell Wallace, the naturalist who independently of Charles Darwin developed the theory of evolution by natural selection. Such bird skins are used by scientists to study historical evolution, DNA, and other areas of biology. For me, the chapter on Wallace is the most fascinating portion of this book. I had no idea about the tribulations that Wallace went through--twice--in order to collect his specimens. The author describes his investigations into the case of the feather thief. It is a detective story, with one major thrust; according to Edwin Rist, he packed the bird skins into a single suitcase. But how could so many fit into a suitcase? Didn't he have a collaborator? There are a few other mysteries that I won't spoil in this review. This is a fascinating book, connecting multiple topics of natural history, scientific endeavors, the hobby of fly-tying and mental illness. But I didn't read the book--I listened to the audiobook, narrated very nicely by MacLeod Andrews.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Randal White

    As a fly fisherman, fly tier, and former policeman, I found this book to be an absolute home run! A young "savant", Edwin Rist, had everything going for him. A brilliant flautist, he and his brother (also a savant), discovered the art of tying Atlantic Salmon flies. Throwing themselves into the hobby, they soon discovered the extreme costs and rarity of some of the required feathers. These feathers come from some of the rarest birds in the world, such as the Resplendent Quetzal, the King Bird of As a fly fisherman, fly tier, and former policeman, I found this book to be an absolute home run! A young "savant", Edwin Rist, had everything going for him. A brilliant flautist, he and his brother (also a savant), discovered the art of tying Atlantic Salmon flies. Throwing themselves into the hobby, they soon discovered the extreme costs and rarity of some of the required feathers. These feathers come from some of the rarest birds in the world, such as the Resplendent Quetzal, the King Bird of Paradise, the Flame Bowerbird, and the Blue Chatterer. Due to the rarity of the birds, the world came together and enacted a treaty to protect them, and other rare and endangered species. It became known as the "CITES" treaty (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). It's the basis for the laws prohibiting trade in ivory, for example, as well as many other animals and plants. Rather than simply using substitute feathers (which the majority of us make do with), Edwin concocts a scheme to break into the British Natural History Museum. The museum housed a vast collection of the birds that Rist needed feathers from. The bird carcasses were collected over hundreds of years, and were being stored for scientific purposes. To not give the entire book away, Rist burglarizes the museum, and makes away with hundreds of the rare birds. It seems that he has committed the perfect crime, as he gets away with it for quite a while. Eventually, people become suspicious of Rist, as he seems to have an unending suppy of the feathers for sale (the feathers can be sold, if it can be proven that they were obtained before the CITES treaty went into effect). He is arrested, but is given a slap on the wrist and released. Along comes the author. A fascinating man in his own right, Johnson is a modern day Sherlock Holmes. He personifies the word persistent. Through an unending, multi-year investigation, Johnson uncovers much more information. The investigation, and it's revelations, really is quite a fascinating story in itself. Again, I don't want to spoil the book for any readers, so I will stop here! Not only a story of Rist and his exploits, the book covers many other subjects. Early explorers searching for unknown species, the whole phenomenon of "feather fashion", the history of salmon fly tying, and the fly tying community itself. The author melds these subjects into the story seamlessly. The entire book flows along very well. You cannot help but learn a great deal about many, varied subjects, painlessly. You will find yourself at times pulling for Rist, and yet at times disgusted by his greed. You wonder how the author found the willpower to keep going on in his investigation, when he hits so many dead ends. All in all, I highly recommend this book. To sportsmen, to crime buffs, to pyschology students, and to anyone else who loves a good mystery. Thank you to Edelweiss, who provided me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    I don't very often read non-fiction and when I do it's usually of the true crime variety involving a serial killer/murder/missing person, etc., but after reading the description of this book I was very intrigued. There was a lot more history involved than I was expecting but it was quite interesting and I feel like I learned a lot about the reason many birds are extinct or nearing extinction and also more than I ever wanted to know about fly tying. Who knew it was such an addictive pastime! It's I don't very often read non-fiction and when I do it's usually of the true crime variety involving a serial killer/murder/missing person, etc., but after reading the description of this book I was very intrigued. There was a lot more history involved than I was expecting but it was quite interesting and I feel like I learned a lot about the reason many birds are extinct or nearing extinction and also more than I ever wanted to know about fly tying. Who knew it was such an addictive pastime! It's just astonishing to read the numbers of birds that were collected over the years, many for frivolous reasons. It seems that the author did a lot of painstaking research and yet set it out in this book so that the timeline and occurrences were crystal clear. The pictures were a real bonus. I'd recommend this book to certain friends, but not everyone.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Beverly

    This is such a weird but fantastic book. I can’t tell you how many times I thought, i mean, we’re talking about feathers, right? Feathers? Aren’t there bigger issues going on in the world right now? But it sucks you in & somehow you find yourself thinking, what happened to those feathers? Where did they go? What did Edwin do with them? So crazy how it twists your mind into actually caring about some feathers and what happened to them. :)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joy D

    In 2009, a twenty-year-old gifted American flautist breaks into the British Natural History Museum at Tring, 30 miles northwest of London, and steals three hundred rare birds whose exotic feathers are in demand in the fly-tying community. This young man does not fish. He ties flies as a hobby and an art form. Exotic feathers are used by fly tiers to replicate 19th century designs. These feathers are increasingly rare and, thus, extremely valuable. It sounds like outlandish fiction, but this is a In 2009, a twenty-year-old gifted American flautist breaks into the British Natural History Museum at Tring, 30 miles northwest of London, and steals three hundred rare birds whose exotic feathers are in demand in the fly-tying community. This young man does not fish. He ties flies as a hobby and an art form. Exotic feathers are used by fly tiers to replicate 19th century designs. These feathers are increasingly rare and, thus, extremely valuable. It sounds like outlandish fiction, but this is a true crime. The author, a journalist, hears about the theft from his fly-fishing guide and decides to find out more. “But the more I found out, the greater the mystery grew, and with it, my own compulsion to solve it. Little did I know, my pursuit of justice would mean journeying deep into the feather underground, a world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, cokeheads and big game hunters, ex-detectives and shady dentists. From the lies and threats, rumors and half-truths, revelations and frustrations, I came to understand something about the devilish relationship between man and nature and his unrelenting desire to lay claim to its beauty, whatever the cost. It would be five consuming years before I finally discovered what happened to the lost birds of Tring.” What a bizarre story! In equal parts history, science, law, and environmentalism, this book is a riveting detective story and a tale of obsession. It is told in three sections. In the first, we hear about Alfred Russel Wallace’s adventures in collecting specimens of these beautiful birds from the jungles of New Guinea and Malaysia in the mid-19th century, the fashion industry’s lavish use of feathers that nearly resulted in several bird species' extinction, and the origins of the craft of fly tying. In the second, we find out how the robbery was accomplished and what transpired in the aftermath. In the third, we hear about the author’s further pursuit of the missing bird skins. The author makes a case for the ongoing value of natural history collections to ecology and scientific inquiry. I found this intriguing mystery both absorbing and educational.

  27. 4 out of 5

    K.

    Trigger warnings: animal death, blood, a lot of bullshit around autism. I've been hearing really good things about this book for the past couple of months, so when I stumbled across it in the true crime section of my library, I picked it up. I found it a struggle to get into, to be perfectly honest, and I can't quite pinpoint why. Maybe it's the fact that so much of the story revolves around making fishing flies and I genuinely cannot imagine being even vaguely interested in making fishing flies Trigger warnings: animal death, blood, a lot of bullshit around autism. I've been hearing really good things about this book for the past couple of months, so when I stumbled across it in the true crime section of my library, I picked it up. I found it a struggle to get into, to be perfectly honest, and I can't quite pinpoint why. Maybe it's the fact that so much of the story revolves around making fishing flies and I genuinely cannot imagine being even vaguely interested in making fishing flies. That said, once I settled down and pushed through the first few chapters, this was a WILD RIDE. I don't know what's more ripped-from-a-Hollywood-heist-movie: the fact that he broke into a museum to steal tens of thousands of dollars worth of taxidermied birds to sell online to fly fishing enthusiasts or the fact that he was doing it so he could buy a solid gold flute. There were twists and turns aplenty, although I have to say I really could have done without the twist where he was diagnosed as autistic and in a later interview he reveals that he basically copied what he knew were traits of autism because he knew he'd basically get off with no jail time if he were diagnosed as autistic. That...was pretty gross, tbh. But that's 100% on him and not the author. That aside, this was honestly one of the most peculiar and compelling books I think I've ever read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    April Cote

    I read this nonstop, completely drawn into this bizarre true crime. Who knew a crime about a man stealing a historical collection and thousands of dollars worth of dead birds from a museum so he could use the feathers to make salmon fly catchers could be so fascinating!

  29. 5 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there mateys! This be one a true crime book about one of the greatest naturalist thefts of all time – of bird skins from the British Museum of Natural History. The reason – their feathers for use in fishing lures. Aye matey, ye did read that correctly. Fishing lures that aren’t even used to fish. Who would think that that would be a big business? Well this book looks into the theft of the birds by a 20 year old flutist studying in London. That part ended unsatisfactorily by me standards. Bu Ahoy there mateys! This be one a true crime book about one of the greatest naturalist thefts of all time – of bird skins from the British Museum of Natural History. The reason – their feathers for use in fishing lures. Aye matey, ye did read that correctly. Fishing lures that aren’t even used to fish. Who would think that that would be a big business? Well this book looks into the theft of the birds by a 20 year old flutist studying in London. That part ended unsatisfactorily by me standards. But this is more than just about that crime. This also looks into the history of the feather trade – like how women’s fashion almost decimated song birds. It discusses the theory of evolution and how Darwin had a competitor in Alfred Russel Wallace, the bird collector of many of those stolen skins. It talks about the history of fly fishing – which is weirder beyond belief. Such historical forays were interesting. While the poor handling of the crime angered me beyond belief (through no fault of the author), the book kept me interested in topics that, before this book, I would have found boring. Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeanette

    Rarely am I the outlier for non-fiction reads in this category. I sure am this time. 2.5 stars to be fair, but I cannot round it up. The last section, is overlong and as tedious as trying to explain one person's obsession in a sport or hobby that is for most humans not even a "known" for its process/method. It's told too in a way that made me seem to have to pick the pieces of the whole together myself somehow. Others seem not to feel that aspect at all. I did. And there also is a kind of "eyes" Rarely am I the outlier for non-fiction reads in this category. I sure am this time. 2.5 stars to be fair, but I cannot round it up. The last section, is overlong and as tedious as trying to explain one person's obsession in a sport or hobby that is for most humans not even a "known" for its process/method. It's told too in a way that made me seem to have to pick the pieces of the whole together myself somehow. Others seem not to feel that aspect at all. I did. And there also is a kind of "eyes" rationalization going on here. Maybe I'm wrong. I hate it when any science labeling and care for record is obliterated in just these kinds of ways. So I thought I'd be a good audience for this non-fiction. Not really. Pretentious hobby knowledge gone amok. Sorry and despicable reasoning all around, IMHO, put into a classy frame.

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