Well-researched… A highly readable profile of a narcissist who got in over his head and lost it all
— Publishers Weekly
A fascinating story of ambitions high and low, the ancient yearning to chart a new world and the eternal lure of a quick buck.
— Kirkus Reviews

The Map Thief

The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps

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. E. Forbes Smiley III, esteemed and respectable antiquarian map dealer, 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 $3 million total, and serve 3 years in prison for his crimes.

THE MAP THIEF: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps by Michael Blanding (Gotham Books, June 2014, Hardcover, eBook) 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. Blanding expertly reports a tale of personal destruction and redemption played out against the dog-eat-dog world of a secretive subculture. THE MAP THIEF delves into the untold history of this fascinating high-stakes criminal, interweaving it with the stories of the explorers and mapmakers he knew better than anyone, and the inside story of the industry that consumed him. Moreover, though Smiley swears he has admitted to all of the maps he stole, the libraries he victimized have uncovered over a hundred more they accuse him of taking—along with some intriguing clues to prove it.                                               

While uncovering the roots of Smiley's crimes, THE MAP THIEF follows those clues in an effort to determine the truth and divulge the implications of Smiley’s crimes on dealers, libraries, collectors, and map lovers alike.

Gotham Books | June 2014 | Hardcover | eBook

8-Page color insert, B&W photos throughout

Read an excerpt from The Map Thief here.

Read a Q&A with Michael about The Map Thief here.

The setting and the character belong in a novel, and this engrossing book reads like fiction.
— Nina Burleigh, New York Times bestselling author of The Fatal Gift of Beauty: The Italian Trials of Amanda Knox
A tribute to the beautiful old maps that ... shaped our modern world.
— Ken Jennings, Jeopard champion and author of Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks