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

“Everything the author touches in this thoroughly engaging true-crime tale turns to storytelling gold…Johnson’s flair for telling an engrossing story is, like the beautiful birds he describes, exquisite.  A superb tale about obsession, nature, and man’s ‘unrelenting desire to lay claim to its beauty, whatever the cost.'” Kirkus (Starred Review)

“[An] enthralling account of a truly bizarre crime…a page-turner”  Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

“You’ll never look at a feather in the same way again after reading this riveting detective story…[a] fantastical narrative which brilliantly weaves together Alfred Russel Wallace, the surprisingly shadowy history of fly fishing, conservation and the plumage of the most beautiful birds on Earth.” Bookseller (“Editor’s Choice, April 2018”)

“[A] thrilling read.”  Bustle (“The 9 Most Anticipated True Crime Books of 2018“)

“An adventure caper, a dose of true crime, and an obsession with the natural world fill this exciting spring release…fascinating from the first page to the last—you won’t be able to put it down.”  Southern Living (“Our Bookshelves Can’t Wait for these 2018 Spring Releases“)

“[A] batshit insane story”  Chicago Reader (“Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2018“)

“Riveting.” Goodreads (“40 of the Hottest Mysteries & Thrillers of 2018“)

“This gem of a book, about a heist of archival birds, is marvelous, moving, and transcendent. I can’t stop thinking about it.”

Dean King, bestselling author of Skeletons on the Zahara and The Feud

“A true-crime tale that weaves seemingly unrelated threads—a museum break-in; the development of evolutionary theory; a case of post-Iraq PTSD; endangered birds; and (above all) the murky underworld of fly-tying obsessives—into a spellbinding narrative tapestry.”

Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu

“This extraordinary book exposes an international underground that traffics in rare and precious natural resources, yet was previously unknown to all but a few. A page-turning read you won’t soon forget, The Feather Thief tells us as much about our cultural priorities as it does about the crimes themselves. There’s never been anything like it.”

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs

“The Feather Thief is a captivating tale of an unlikely thief and his even more unlikely crime, and a meditation on obsession, greed, and the sheer fascination in something as seemingly simple as a feather.”

Paul Collins, author of The Murder of the Century

“A stirring examination of the devastating effects of human greed on endangered birds, a powerful argument for protecting our environment—and, above all, a captivating crime story.”

Peter Wohlleben, Author of The Hidden Life of Trees

“This is the type of book I absolutely love – one that takes a seemingly obscure topic and shines a brilliant and bizarre and endlessly fascinating light upon it. The crime itself is riveting, but Kirk Wallace Johnson’s portrayal of the crazy world of feather fanatics makes this an unforgettable read.”

Michael Finkel, Author of The Stranger in the Woods

Praise for To Be a Friend is Fatal: The Fight to Save the Iraqis America Left Behind:



























–Michiko Kakutani


“A truly incredible story.”

–Ira Glass








“A searing account.”

–George Packer



“It is difficult to imagine a book more urgent than this.”

–Rayyan al-Shawaf


“Kirk W. Johnson’s rage-inducing account of government indifference is a tale of lost innocence that, in our American twilight, feels devastatingly allegorical.”

–Megan O’Grady



“This authentic patriot has written a must-read memoir.”

— Trudy Rubin


The well-written book—the author is an honest, engaging and indomitable guide—warrants a special place in nonfiction shelves. He captures the tragicomedy of Iraq better than anyone else’s chronicle I have read so far .

–John Kael Weston

“From the ruins of the war in Iraq and his own broken body, Kirk Johnson made it his cause to redeem the one American promise to Iraqis that honor required us to keep. He tirelessly fought the political resistance and bureaucratic indifference of two administrations. His account is riveting, darkly funny, heroic, and shaming.”


Author of The Assassins’ Gate and The Unwinding


“Kirk Johnson is one of the few genuine heroes of America’s war in Iraq… Johnson’s story is about America’s shame, and also its honor. This is an essential book.”


New Yorker staff writer and author of The Forever War


 Kirk W. Johnson’s TO BE A FRIEND IS FATAL is a heartbreaking reminder of the wreckage we’ve left behind in Iraq.  And it is unafraid to ask some of the most essential questions regarding our involvement there: Are we who we say we are? A nd if we are, why haven’t we kept our word?  I urge everyone to read it.


Author of The Yellow Birds


“What is so intriguing about this beautifully written book is that while it is a scathing critique of America’s policy toward Iraq, it is not one of your usual policy books. To Be a Friend is Fatal is a deeply personal and poignant story about how one young American’s passion and curiosity lead him to a distant and troubled land, where his empathy and sense of justice prevent him from giving up on the people abandoned by the U.S. government.”


New York Times-bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran


“I have long been an admirer of Kirk Johnson–for his humanitarian advocacy on behalf of forgotten Iraqis and for his honest and poetic writing… His is a story that arcs from charity to futility to pain to charity again, and how much he needs to tell it equals how much it deserves to be read.”


Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of The Good Soldiers