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.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Island of Lost Maps|
|Release Date: 10-06-2010|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Crown Publishing Group|
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The Island of Lost Maps
Explorers pin maps to their walls; journalists tape stories to theirs. For both, doing so is a way of getting their bearings. As I sit down to write this book, the wall behind my computer is unadorned except for two photocopied articles, each of which helps me set the course for the journey ahead. The first one, which I ponder now while sipping coffee, is from a reference book called Who Was Who in World Exploration:
Houtman, Cornelius (Cornelis de Houtman). (ca. 1540-1599). Dutch navigator and trader in the East Indies. Brother of Frederik Houtman.... In 1592, the Houtman brothers were commissioned by a group of nine Amsterdam merchants to journey to Portugal to learn what they could about newly developed sea routes to the East Indies.... In Lisbon that year, Houtman and his brother attempted to acquire classified Portuguese navigational charts detailing the sailing routes to the Indies. They were arrested and briefly held in a Portuguese jail when they were caught trying to smuggle the charts back to Holland.
The coffee I am drinking comes from a Chicago establishment called the Kopi café, a place where my life was transformed one day and this book was born. As it happens, the story of how the Houtman brothers wound up in jail is also the story of how the Kopi got its name. That, however, is not the primary reason this article hangs on my wall. I keep it there to serve as a constant reminder of the extraordinary power of maps-and the lengths to which human beings will go in obtaining them.
Shakespeare once used the term mappery to describe the passionate study of a map or chart. I am n...