This book had been languishing on my I ve started so I ll finish shelf since forever, with the bookmark on page 289.The first part had been really interesting, the part that had been all about the map thief Gilbert Bland and his eventual arrest But then the author, who had become quite obsessed, went off on a quest of his own, and the rest of the book turned into a rambling mess.When I finally picked it up again last night, I discovered that of the ca 120 pages left, only 60 pages were text The rest were acknowledgements, notes that I hadn t even known were there they weren t marked in the text, which makes them rather pointless in my view , and an index I skimmed the rest of the text and am very relieved that I can now remove it from my shelves.For a much better worded review, and one I heartily agree with, see the one by Lori. Now In Paperback, This USA Today Best Book Of 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 When All Was Said And Done, Gilbert Joseph Bland, Jr Had Become The Al Capone Of Cartography Illustrations Throughout I bought the book for a few reasons I liked the cover I like Islands I like maps I like some true stories It seemed totally random.Highly recommended because even if you like none of the above reasons, you will still love reading it Yay cartography I can t believe I finally finished reading this book I never thought I d make it Even Jake said he felt relieved when I was finally done So I suppose it s not hard to guess that I thought this book was pretty boring and way longer than it needed to be I would repeatedly find myself at the bottom of a paragraph and realize I had no clue what I had just read Or I would suddenly come to with a jolt and a major crick in my neck Oy The author took what was a mildly interesting case a man who stole hundreds of valuable old maps from rare book rooms at libraries around the nation and researched it to death He spent 4 years interviewing anyone even remotely connected to the case or rare maps collecting, he gathered all kinds of court documents, police records, military records, etc and he dumped all of that information into this book The info wasn t well organized to begin with, but then he intersperses it with all kinds of tidbits on the history of maps, the history of map collecting, the history of explorers and it was mostly a jumbled mess.It starts to get weird when he author admits that he became obsessed with this case and the criminal involved, Gilbert Bland He continually delved into Bland s psyche, trying to get to the bottom of his motivations in committing this type of crime He constantly wrestled with his obsession, trying to figure out throughout the book why he was so obsessed with this case and doing such extensive research into it While I appreciated his candor and typically enjoy trying to get to the psychological heart of things, it got awkward to sit there and read about his inner struggle At one point the author even talks about how he was beginning to take on traits of the map thief He even compares his search for Gilbert Bland to that of Stanely s immortal search for Dr Livingstone and then goes on to remind us of what kind of a person Stanley turned into he ended up working as a Belgian mercenary and was involved in the oppression and torture of thousands of people in the Congo.Even after all that, I won t say that this book was totally worthless As I mentioned, the case itself was mildly interesting and as with any non fiction work there was information to be gleaned that I can take away with me Whether I like or dislike a book is not the most important thing to me I care whether a book provides food for thought and for interesting discussion If it provides me an outlet for expressing my strong opinions in a fairly safe and neutral forum I think this book has done those things for me and I look forward to the discussion at book club Thanks for hanging in there with me if you ve made it this far If you feel so inclined, leave a comment so I can give you due gratitude This was certainly an interesting take on a cartographic criminal, namely one who steals maps from libraries I have to admit I became a bit riled upon reading that rare books were destroyed in the guilty one s greed, so I didn t have much sympathy for him But the author kept my attention by taking paths into the days of Columbus and Magellan and the great explorers, thus illuminating the constant crimes in search of rare maps.Librarians do not come off well here They allowed their books to be torn apart and then either didn t know about it or were too embarrassed to admit it The author is mildly kind to them, but his frustration shows, and I like his emotion coming through the pages We rarely reach our destinations, at least not the ones we set out to find.Book Season Year Round Very interesting story of a branch of literary theft specializing in taking maps, sometimes cutting desirable maps out of special collection edition books As well as the hunters who track these thieves down Interestingly, the thieves appear addicted to their pursuits, unable to stop even when they know they are close to being caught. This is one of those popular history current affairs books which takes a theme, in this case the career of a antique map thief, and supplements it with excurses into other, related subthemes and topics The thief in question here is one Gilbert Bland The text begins with his arrest at the Peabody Library, an arrest which began the investigation revealing a whole series of thefts, spanning North America This and the efforts of the author to retrace not only Bland s criminal career but also his entire life is punctuated by brief biographies of other such thiefs and of other map collectors as well as by histories of various map collections In addition, author Harvey discusses, occasionally, portions of the history of map making, of the lives of some map makers and of the business of map making and of map collecting And that s not all but you get the idea.Reading this is effortless fun and one does pick up some interesting information, but sometimes the author gets carried away with his metaphors, filling pages with relatively contentless lyricism, padding what is otherwise an engaging text.This book was recommended to me by an old friend, credited in its Acknowledgements, the reading of which also turned up another local acquaintance Indeed, Harvey states in the Introduction that he did much of his writing at the Kopi Cafe, just a couple of miles south of here on Clark Street. As a cartomaniac, a librarian, and a history lover myself, this book seemed to be just the ticket for me I loved the digressions into the science of maps, notable historic maps, mapmakers, historic map thieves, explorers, map collectors and the map trade However, I found the story of the map thief to be about as bland as the thief s own name In fact, the author takes pains to illustrate that thief is a personification of his own name His is a story not worthy of telling, except as a cautionary tale for all archivists, librarians, collectors and the like who might fall prey to low life vandals such as Bland His story becomes even tedious by the end, and then turns into a sentimental author s introspective I grew tired of the way the author always tries to tie the story of maps into the story of the map thief, as if everything about maps is somehow analogous to this repugnant protagnist I also thought that the author s attempt to make the entire story applicable to himself, even to the point of drawing an analogy between his own life and that of the thief, as if his whole experience of researching the story of the map thief was actually a journey of self disovery, was pretty weak and contrived I think I would have rather read this book as two separate works one a collection of newspaper clippings detailing the arrest of Mr Bland and the subsequent crime investigation, and another as a brief history of all the varied aspects of the world of maps, including map crimes, of which this map thief s story would merely figure in as one egregious example, rather than as the focus of the entire work. In June 2002, I arrived in Worcester, Massachusetts, where the courteous natives felt impelled to tell me that it was pronounced Wooster as though it would be anything else We Australians know and use the English pronunciation of such places There I entered the Goddard Library to get my paws on Robert Goddard s papers, and I was given firm instructions as to how I would sit, in relation to the librarian s desk So I said brightly You ve read The Island of Lost Maps , haven t you The librarian confirmed that he had I indicated that I had also done so, and undertook not to behave in any manner that would in any way approach the concealing actions used by Gilbert Bland or any of the others described there, in order that he, the librarian, could be a little comfortable.I get furious enough when I see prints that are obviously taken from old books to be framed, on sale on market stalls The idea of anybody stealing scholarship is even anathematic to me It makes my blood run cold.Still, people who go into libraries need to know how the Blands of this world operate, if only so that they can flush them out And librarians MUST read it.One need not set a thief to catch a thief, but one needs to set somebody who is versed in the ways of thieves This book prepares us well.