The Map Thief

The Map Thief free text

Author:

Hardcover, Pages: 222

Genres: Nonfiction, History, Crime, True Crime

Language: English

Reads: 85

Downloads: 5342

Rating: Rated: 2792 timesRate It

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Book Summary

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.

Reader Reviews
  •    Mezikazahn Nawabit
    2020
    Excellent research and fluent style make this non-fiction book the perfect doorway into the world of cartography and the love of maps. I've always loved maps, but now I feel that I know a lot more about them and how they are appraised. This is also a thriller-like story of a master-thief who has managed to steal many cultural treasures before he was finally caught (not a spoiler - it's in the first pages of the book). Blanding does a good job (I think) of trying to understand the mind of the man behind the thefts, and how he has come to do what he did. I couldn't put it down.
    Reply
  •    Doll Crennon
    2020
    Forbes Smiley is a dealer in expensive, antique maps. He is an expert, a connoisseur, and a family man; a generous friend and a civic-minded citizen. Oh, and he's a thief. Welcome to the true story of a map dealer who got lost and violated the trust of the very industry and institutions that once made him a success. Journalist Michael Blanding tells the story as equal parts narrative and history of map-making, so by the end of the book the reader not only knows the very surprising story of Smiley's rise and fall but has also received an education in cartography. The book is an excellent read, a strange tale deftly told. Highly recommended.
    Reply

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