The Map Thief

The Map Thief

Kobo ebook | May 29, 2014

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The story of an infamous crime, a revered map dealer with an unsavory secret, and the ruthless subculture that consumed him

Maps have long exerted a special fascination on viewers—both as beautiful works of art and as practical tools to navigate the world. But to those who collect them, the map trade can be a cutthroat business, inhabited by quirky and sometimes disreputable characters in search of a finite number of extremely rare objects.

Once considered a respectable antiquarian map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley spent years doubling as a map thief —until he was finally arrested slipping maps out of books in the Yale University library. The Map Thief delves into the untold history of this fascinating high-stakes criminal and the inside story of the industry that consumed him.

Acclaimed reporter Michael Blanding has interviewed all the key players in this stranger-than-fiction story, and shares the fascinating histories of maps that charted the New World, and how they went from being practical instruments to quirky heirlooms to highly coveted objects. Though pieces of the map theft story have been written before, Blanding is the first reporter to explore the story in full—and had the rare privilege of having access to Smiley himself after he’d gone silent in the wake of his crimes. Moreover, although Smiley swears he has admitted to all of the maps he stole, libraries claim he stole hundreds more—and offer intriguing clues to prove it. Now, through a series of exclusive interviews with Smiley and other key individuals, Blanding teases out an astonishing tale of destruction and redemption.

The Map Thief interweaves Smiley’s escapades with the stories of the explorers and mapmakers he knew better than anyone. Tracking a series of thefts as brazen as the art heists in Provenance and a subculture as obsessive as the oenophiles in The Billionaire’s Vinegar, Blanding has pieced together an unforgettable story of high-stakes crime.

Title:The Map ThiefFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:May 29, 2014Publisher:Penguin Group USLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN:9990044740110

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from More interesting than I thought it would be The book is divided into two parts. Part One focuses on maps, the art and science of map making, cartography and the history of map theft. Part Two is mostly a biography of the infamous map thief, E. Forbes Smiley III. Like all biographies, it is a construct and we of course can't know just how accurate it is, but it was a good read either way. I particularly enjoyed reading about how the development and publication of detailed maps of the American colonies was key to the French and Indian Wars as well as the Revolutionary War.
Date published: 2018-05-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from More interesting than I thought it would be The book is divided into two parts. Part One focuses on maps, the art and science of map making, cartography and the history of map theft. Part Two is mostly a biography of the infamous map thief, E. Forbes Smiley III. Like all biographies, it is a construct and we of course can't know just how accurate it is, but it was a good read either way. I particularly enjoyed reading about how the development and publication of detailed maps of the American colonies was key to the French and Indian Wars as well as the Revolutionary War.
Date published: 2018-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from non-fiction so much better than fiction The criminal's name is...wait for it...E. Forbes Smiley III. C'mon, you can't even make that up if you tried. Yet it's not all unintentional comedy with names as we learn how insane these antique map collectors are and how willingly they seem to believe any story just to get their hands on these historical treasures. The steps along the way make the journey to catch Smiley just as fascinating.
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A well woven story It's a mind-boggling but true story. I think that the author does an exceptional job weaving in the history of maps to help the reader appreciate their significance (inset with colour pictures included)- all while maintaining the pace and intrigue of the story. It's a relatively short but enjoyable read.
Date published: 2016-08-26