Library Author Series: Kirk Wallace Johnson
- Library Hall
The Feather Thief is a rollicking true-crime adventure and a captivating journey into an underground world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers. 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.
About the Author
Kirk W. Johnson is the founder of the List Project to Resettle Iraqi Allies, and the author of To Be a Friend is Fatal: the Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind and The Feather Thief. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post Magazine, the Wall Street Journal and Foreign Policy, among others.
Prior to the List Project, Johnson served in Iraq with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Baghdad and then Fallujah as the Agency’s first coordinator for reconstruction in the war-torn city.
He is a Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, and the recipient of fellowships from the American Academy in Berlin, Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Wurlitzer Foundation. Prior to his work in Iraq, he conducted research on political Islamism as a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt. Johnson received his BA from the University of Chicago in 2002. Born in West Chicago, he lives with his wife and son in Los Angeles.
This community talk is free.
About the Library Author Series
Bud Werner Memorial Library presents an ongoing program of author talks throughout the year. These are free community events held in Library Hall, where a diverse award-winning range of visiting authors speak about their literary works and their writing processes. Each talk is followed by a Q&A and an opportunity to have authors sign copies of their books.
Books will be available for sale and author signing courtesy of Off the Beaten Path Bookstore.