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The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of…

The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime (2000)

by Miles Harvey (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Reading this book currently. So far I am finding it very interesting but scattered. I love maps and cartographic history, when I picked this book up I was thinking it would be more along those lines, but so far I am fairly entertained. Will update when I am done reading. UPDATE: Lost interest quickly. Was not really about maps at all. Actually, it's hard to know what this book is about. It is kind of about book dealers, which I am, (not on these guys' level!) so that is mildly interesting, but overall the author's inability to pick a thread and stick with it was too distracting to really glean any useful info or even a storyline to follow. Wasn't terrible, but wasn't good enough to finish. Read half of it and decided to spend my time more wisely and pick another book. Meh. ( )
  jspringbrinkley | Mar 15, 2014 |
An entertaining and cautionary book about a very vicious criminal. As a devotee of old maps this kind of crime should have very serious consequences. I have to deal with the aftermath of Gilbert Bland's (the subject of this this book) visit to one of my favourite libraries. Never cut the maps out of old atlases or books of travel!!!. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 16, 2014 |
Ridiculously tedious. Basic rule of journalism: reporters should not insert themselves into stories. In case you needed it, here's proof of that. ( )
  Eliz12 | Dec 29, 2013 |
The Island of Lost Maps is sort of a true crime story. But not really. What got the author started down this road was the theft of maps from various libraries by Gilbert Bland. The author becomes fascinated with the story and ends up on a rather broader journey than expected. Harvey does go into the details of Bland's crimes and the history of the man himself (he also does some supposing about why Bland did what he did) but the book is not just about Bland. I wouldn't even say it is mostly about Bland. It isn't even just about maps. There is a lot of interesting (at least to me) information here about the history of mapmaking and the history of map thievery. It goes into the politics of maps and why they were so well guarded through history. It talks about why people today have such an interest in old maps and why people feel the need to collect them. It goes into the issues that libraries have with making rare books available to the public without making them vulnerable to theft and vandalism and how libraries can keep the books together and whole when there are no funds. Harvey's quest to find Bland led him all over the place and you have to be prepared to follow him there. Even when he goes on little detours. The book does tend to meander around a bit and follows Harvey's movements instead of having some, maybe, more cohesive style. I didn't mind because I found all his detours and musings interesting. Just beware that this book covers almost as much ground as the maps he's talking about ( )
1 vote bedda | Nov 21, 2013 |
This book tells the story of the map thief who stole maps from rare book and documents collections at many libraries and institutions in North America in the 1990s. Remarkably, his modus operandi was painfully simple - present false ID at registration and just cut the desired page out of the priceless books and walk out with it stuffed down his shirt.
The book is written by a journalist who covered the case for a magazine. While it is a well written book with some catching turns of phrase, it is too long. There is too much padding out of the story, reflections on all things that could possibly be called upon in reference to maps, exploration, psychology etc etc. A shorter, tighter book would have been better.
Read July 2013 ( )
  mbmackay | Aug 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harvey, MilesAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chueca, FabiánTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Made, Aafke van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is not down in any map; true places never are.
To Bob, Tinker, and Matthew/ The Maps / To Rengia and Azize/ The Destinations
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Explorers pin maps to their walls; journalists tape stories to theirs.
Of what use is eternity without the past?
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0767908260, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:28 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"The Island of Lost Maps" tells the story of a curious crime spree: the theft of scores of valuable, centuries-old maps from some of the most prominent research libraries in the United States and Canada. When all was said and done, Gilbert Joseph Bland, Jr., had become the Al Capone of cartography, the most prolific American map thief in history.… (more)

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