The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime

The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime

by Miles Harvey
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The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime by Miles Harvey

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. The perpetrator was Gilbert Joseph Bland, Jr., an enigmatic antiques dealer from South Florida, whose cross-country slash-and-dash operation had gone virtually undetected until he was caught in 1995–and was unmasked as the most prolific American map thief in history. As Miles Harvey unravels the mystery of Bland’s life, he maps out the world of cartography and cartographic crime, weaving together a fascinating story of exploration, craftsmanship, villainy, and the lure of the unknown.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767908269
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/04/2001
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 5.19(w) x 8.01(h) x 1.04(d)

About the Author

Miles Harvey began reporting on Gilbert Bland in 1996 for Outside magazine. He has worked for UPI and In These Times, and he was the book-review columnist for Outside. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and the University of Michigan, he has had a lifelong fascination with maps. He can be reached via the Internet at

From the Hardcover edition.

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Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This text was required for my art history class. The information is extremely interesting, but the author has the tendency to elaborate on topics that don't need to be written in detail about. He also jumps around a lot in the book, so it's hard to follow the story. I lost interest about 50 pages in, but I have to read 250 more...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Each chapter of Island of Lost Maps is an excellent model for writing the historical essay. The author weaves the story of a modern map thief with the history of map thieves. This is an excellent book to building reading and writing skills for AP students in the American system and A-Level Students in the British system. It is a great book to be used for English, history and geography -- or just for entertaining, informative reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book not because I am interested in maps, but because I enjoy reading true crime books. If I had known that the author never actually interviewed Bland, I would have never bought it. That said, I did learn a lot about maps and found some of it interesting. But, the other reviews are correct in their descriptions of the writing style. It is all over the place! If you love maps, then you will probably enjoy this book. If you are buying it for the story of the crime, don't do it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Miles Harvey's book, THE ISLAND OF LOST MAPS, is a journey to find the motivation of one Gilbert Bland as he carefully cut out valuable maps from libraries in the United States, Canada and possibly Britain, and then sold them to map collectors who often did not concern themselves with where Bland had found these valuables. Harvey's task is finally insurmountable. Comparing Bland to other thieves and explorers, Harvey can merely poke at Bland's brain from a distance, and Bland never allows his motivations to be discovered. Harvey notes Bland's name as being a symbol of his personality, yet Harvey notices a touch of resolute fire in Bland's eye as Harvey is warned to stay away. Backed into a corner, Bland once refused to explain himself to the FBI. Harvey is much easier to put off. If Harvey has helped us at all with his book, it must be through his excellent description of the history of mapping, and his personal discovery that we all are on a search, whether it be for a Northwest Passage or a Way to Heaven. What Bland was searching for, we may never know. But if we take a recent comment from the actor Jim Carrey for guidance, it might be that Bland was just trying to fill up an emptiness inside, a loneliness he was trying to fill with stolen goods, not a way to give much satisfaction in the end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you are not a map collector, cartographer, or even a voracious reader like myself, then I think this book falls short of 'outstanding'. The author puts forth intelligent observations about maps, explorers, mapmakers, map collecting, and himself along the journey. I was fascinated with the names of these libraries/library collections that house priceless maps and books. It was poignant when he mentioned a tragedy from his family's past. However, I agree with some of the negative reviews regarding fluidity and structure of the story. When the subject got interesting, he 'changed gears' and ruminated about the criminal, who was not that interesting. Towards the end of the book, I was ready for it to be over.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read dealing with the collecting world in general and the upstart community that incupses the world of collecting. Miles Harvey really puts together the world of collecting with an individual like Bland who wanted to be accepted with these people. Not until this book did I realize how significant a specific map can make a person, an institution do the things they do. Wonderful reading couldnt put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is a great introduction into the arcane world of antique map collecting, the history of cartography and the crimes of Mr. Bland. It's an entertaining, quick read but I did find the staccato style of the author rather disconcerting. One chapter has you fascinated with the criminal history of Mr Bland, but then - BAM! - just as you want to find out more, he starts the next chapter with some character he met in his research or it's a wild divergence into some historical event totally unrelated to what he had previously written about. It was as if I were reading magazine artcles on related subjects. You enjoy them, but you are struck by the lack of fluidity and interconnectedness between chapters that most books possess. Writing style aside, it was an interesting and worth the money just not as great as some reviewers would have you believe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is so well crafted, so informative, intriguing, and entertaining at once, it is a joy to see its narrative unfold. As a bonus, the publisher created a presentation worthy of the contents, with all the splendor of an ancient tome. Crack the cover open, peek in, and let your self be coaxed onto the meandering path. A gem!
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the most impressive works of nonfiction I've read in years, Miles Harvey's book is both a brilliant act of journalism and a probing act of self-examination. Harvey brings to life the endlessly fascinating (really!) world of cartography, as well as the appalling crime spree of map thief Gilbert Bland. This book most reminds me of Jon Krakauer's 'Into Thin Air' in its exploration of a remarkable true-life story and its attempts to journey far into the author's own soul.