The Map Thief
The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Reception to follow
Otto G. Richter Library, 8th floor
University of Miami | 1300 Memorial Drive | Coral Gables, FL 33146
Presented in partnership with Books & Books.
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Maps have long exerted a special fascination on viewers—both as beautiful works of art and practical tools to navigate the world. For those that collect them, however, the map trade can be a cutthroat business, inhabited by quirky and in some cases disreputable characters in search of a finite number of extremely rare objects. Michael Blanding’s The Map Thief delves into the untold history E. Forbes Smiley III, esteemed and respectable antiquarian map dealer, who spent years doubling as a map thief until he was finally arrested while delicately tearing maps out of books in the Yale University Library in 2005. He would later confess to the theft of 97 maps valued at over $3m total, and serve 42 months in prison for his crimes.
Praised by Publishers Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, and many others, the book includes the results of an exclusive interview with Smiley before he went quiet, as well as the other individuals involved; from the dealers he worked with to the librarians affected by Smiley’s theft. Though Smiley swears he has admitted to all of the maps he stole, the libraries he victimized have uncovered hundreds more they accuse him of taking—along with some intriguing clues to prove it.
About the Author
Michael Blanding is the author of The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink (Avery, 2010), and a journalist with more than 15 years of experience writing long-form narrative and investigative journalism. Previously a staff writer and editor at Boston magazine, Blanding has since freelanced for publications including WIRED, Slate, The Nation, The New Republic, Consumers Digest, and the Boston Globe Magazine, where he has focused on investigative stories involving intensive research and interviews. Blanding has been named a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, and a network fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. An amateur map lover, Blanding has a collection of international subway maps and bought his first antiquarian map while reporting this book.
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