The Map Thief

The Map Thief

The Gripping Story of An Esteemed Rare-map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
5
Rate this:
"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."-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, New York : Gotham Books, [2014]
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781592408177
1592408176
Branch Call Number: 364.16289 B6424m 2014
Characteristics: xvi, 300 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Join the discussion on February 21, 2018.

Join the discussion on July 14, 2018.

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 insid... Read More »


From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

AL_KATI Jun 28, 2017

Who would have thought the world of antique map dealing could be so lucrative? If you liked "The Monuments Men" try this.

m
MelatSCPL
Sep 04, 2016

Here's a peek into the mind of a man who's massive ego and colossal sense of entitlement, strips him of moral and ethical standards and permits him to justify his headlong pursuit of the almighty dollar.

t
tocch101
Nov 15, 2015

Interesting, but occasionally dry. It makes you instantly curious about maps, and both frustrated and understanding of the final outcome.

z
zipread
Aug 06, 2015

The Map Thief --- by --- Michael Blanding.
Paintings by Modigliani and Monet; rare manuscript folios perhaps by Shakespeare or an original copy of Goethe’s “Goetz von Berlichingen” ; jewellery and rare stones like the Koh-i-noor Diamond or the Liberty Bell Ruby: what do they all have in common? They are rare; very valuable; relatively small; and much sought after. And to someone with the right connections, easily converted into cash. Add rare maps to this list of things targeted by thieves. Much in demand by unscrupulous collectors; difficult to trace and lamentable easy to steal for library collections often lacking in even the most primitive of security systems.
The story of map thief E. Forbes Smiley III reads like a novel but be assured, this book is no work of fiction. It tells the tale of a map dealer gone rogue who, before he was finally trapped, had stolen millions of dollars of rare maps from unsuspecting rare map libraries and collections.
Michael Blanding certainly knows how to turn a tale that could be less than interesting and turn it into a story that will spellbind you all the way to its conclusion.
The book contains an annotated twenty-five page list of maps stolen by Smiley; an extensive bibliography; as well as pages of explanatory notes.
So after acknowledging to having stolen over eighty rare and valuable maps, how much jail time did Smiley have to face?
I guess you’ll have to read the book.

admartin861 Mar 03, 2015

This was a very enjoyable book. I really enjoy a great story and this is a gripping true story that teaches a great amount of history.

Age

Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at MCL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top