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The island of lost maps : a true story of cartographic crime
Miles Harvey
Adult Nonfiction Z702 .H37 2000

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Harvey himself sometimes seems obsessed as he explores the obsession of those who collect maps. Still, this is a challenging and erudite exploration of the explosion in "map culture" and the damage wrought by one determined con man with cartographic passions. Harvey's primary narrative (which originated as an article for Outside magazine) concerns the exploits of Gilbert Bland, a man who on the surface, according to Harvey, did indeed seem bland but who stole approximately $500,000 in antique maps from poorly secured rare-book libraries. Bland was apprehended in 1995 at Baltimore's Peabody Library; he was ultimately charged in several jurisdictions after numerous universities discovered extensive losses, but he plea-bargained for a light sentence. Harvey painstakingly reconstructs the map thief's various identitiesÄfor Bland, a "chameleon," had abandoned a number of spouses and children and had engaged in questionable business ventures. Thus is Harvey launched into a larger meditation on the lure of "terra incognita," both literal and metaphoric, whether of Bland's enigmatic life or of undiscovered continents. Harvey uses the Bland case to explore both cartographic history and the dangers of obsession. One collector he examines is controversial map megadealer Graham Arader, considered responsible for cartography's newfound commercialism. Harvey's pursuit of all possible tangents (he even visits a map factory) causes his narrative to become unwieldy at times. But he offers dry wit and a fine sense of the dark places in our contemporary landscape, and he successfully captures both the story of Bland's bizarre "map crime spree" and the underexamined history and politics of contemporary cartography. Agent, Sloan Harris. 50,ooo first printing; 8-city author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Harvey, a book-review columnist for Outside and a person whom "maps spoke to," embarks here upon an exploration not only of cartographic crime but also of the terra incognito of that strange subculture of obsessive collectors driven "to transgress laws or moral codes-in part because overcoming the obstacles?between the collector and the desired object is exactly what makes the experience so rewarding." The crime spree of Gilbert Joseph Bland Jr.-who stole scores of valuable maps from some of the most prominent research libraries in the United States and Canada-is the major story of this rambling if well-documented study, but Harvey's real focus is the metaphor of the map, which "provides no answers. It only suggests where to look: discover this, re-examine that, put one thing in relation to another, orient yourself, begin here." While completing the biography of the elusive Bland, Harvey fleshes out this metaphor with side-excursions into the early world of map-making, the never-ending struggle of map-makers to keep their products from being purloined by other map-makers, and the interesting behavior and symptoms of those afflicted with what map-collectors call "Cartomania." An intriguing book; recommended for public and academic libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ5/1/00; for more on Harvey, see "BEA Reveals Emergence of E-Book?," p.12-13.-Ed.]-Robert C. Jones, Central Missouri State Univ. Warrensburg (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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