Book Review, Nonfiction

Review: The Feather Thief

The Feather Thief Book Cover The Feather Thief
Kirk Wallace Johnson
True Crime
Penguin Books
April 23, 2019

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 Woods, The Lost City of Z, and The Orchid Thief. - Goodreads

First a warning.  This review might dissolve into a rant. Not about the book. The book was a descent read. Well written and to the brim with information. But I found the subject matter really upsetting. 

The book is about a heist that took place in a natural history museum. No spoilers there. Says so on the cover.

The book starts of a little slow. Especially if you were expecting an exciting heist. Instead it delves into a full history lesson about the stolen birds. Where they came from. Who found them. Stories about Wallace and Darwin and their adventures. 

Although it is a nonviolent crime book, there are masses of victims in the form of endangered species. If you feel strongly about cruelty to animals and poaching, then even this first part might be quite upsetting.

And then it goes on to the details of the heist and the thief. His life story etc. A lot of information.

As also stated on the cover, this book is about obsession. The fly tying community’s obsession with rare feathers of endangered birds and the author’s obsession in tracking down the lost stolen birds.
I found the author sleuthing the most enjoyable part of this book. A real life amateur detective on the hunt. 

Now comes the rant. Also spoiler warning.

 I get being obsessed with an hobby. I have a few myself. I am a collector. I now the painful longing to make a collection complete, but I can not find any relatability to these particular fly-tiers. 

I confess, I love museums and will always be on the side of the scientists. But having to break into a museum and destroy scientific valuable samples so that you can make a ridiculous fishing hook is unforgivable to me. Sickening even. Especially with all the elitist reasons Edwin did it for. 

I watch LARPers and hobby creators make one thing look like another. People would make realistic looking armor out of foam. But these people can’t elevate there hobby by making common feathers look like the originals. No, because it “Does not feel the same.” Well, we’ve heard that excuse before.

I don’t know how that can still be a legitimate excuse in some peoples minds. Control yourself, damn it, and suck it up. And these fly-tiers takes fly tying way to seriously. Have passion for what you do, but don’t threaten people. Worse that internet trolls. 

So yeah, this book really upset me, but it was a good read. Not enjoyable, but good.

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