Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime

Miles Harvey

Published by Random House (NY)
ISBN 10: 0756792770 / ISBN 13: 9780756792770
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Very Good copy, cover and pages show some wear from reading and storage. Binding may have light creases. Lots of life left in these pages. Bookseller Inventory #

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Synopsis: Just like the most elegant of the maps at the center of this intricate tale, Miles Harvey s impeccably written guide to the extraordinary & unsung obsession of the cartomaniac is intriguing, beguiling, & refined. He tells an intriguing literary adventure story, written with flair, imagination & precision. By re-creating the journey of a strange & remarkable map thief, Harvey takes readers on a compelling exploration of the weird world of maps. And as with the best of maps, the more one looks, the more fascinating & intriguing it all becomes.

Review: In 1995, a watchful patron alerted a librarian at Johns Hopkins University that another patron, a middle-aged and well-dressed man, was behaving suspiciously. The librarian called the police, who discovered that the man, a Floridian named Gilbert Bland, had cut four maps from a set of rare books. On investigation, the police were able to attribute dozens of similar thefts to Bland, thefts that had taken place at a score of the country's best-regarded--and, presumably, best-protected--scholarly institutions.

Like countless other readers, Miles Harvey, a writer for Outside magazine, encountered the news of Bland's arrest as a brief item in the back pages of the morning newspaper. The story stayed with Harvey, who wondered why otherwise law-abiding people behave so badly around antiquities. In The Island of Lost Maps, a wonderfully rich excursion into the demimonde of what might be called cartographomania, Harvey follows Bland's tracks from library to library, reconstructing the crimes of the man he deems the Al Capone of map theft, following the contours of Bland's complex, sinister character. Along the way, Harvey examines the history of cartography generally, and the ravenous market for old maps--once the quiet province of a few knowing collectors, now invaded by speculators. These maps are just another corner of the overpriced status-symbol commodity market--and one that richly rewarded Bland's nefarious work.

Harvey's winding narrative, full of learned detours, adds up to a superbly rendered tale of true crime (and, many readers might object, of insufficient punishment), one that will appeal to book lovers and mystery buffs in equal measure. --Gregory McNamee

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Title: Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of ...
Publisher: Random House (NY)
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: VERY GOOD

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Published by Random House (NY)
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