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.
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by Michael D'Orso
by Michael McGarrity
by Michael Robotham
by Michael Farquhar
by Michael Buckley
by Michael Useem
by Michael Veltri
by Eric Dezenhall
by Keith Cameron Smith
by Gary Hamel, Bill Breen
"E. Forbes Smiley is an almost larger-than-life character. Fusty, genuinely captivated by old maps, and cavalier about his spending, he cynically steals maps from libraries and museums for the money. Narrator Sean Runnette wholly grasps SmileyÕs contradictions and quirks with a narration that is accessible and charming. For the complicated history of some of the maps, Runnette slightly slows his pace to ease listening digestion. HeÕs more conversational when recounting SmileyÕs financial overextension as he bounces checks and lives a grander lifestyle than he can afford. Perhaps most fitting of all is RunnetteÕs hint of (deserved) incredulousness at the lax security of the institutions that Smiley steals from. It really shouldnÕt be so easy to steal such rare and valuable things. A.B. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine"
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