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Book Review: 'The Island of Lost Maps'

Posted on

The Island of Lost Maps

Current Status:
In Season
Miles Harvey
Random House

We gave it a B-

The Island of Lost Maps, a true-crime tale set in the eccentric world of antique maps, details the heists of Gilbert Bland, first observed pilfering a couple of rare paper antiquities from Maryland’s Peabody Library in 1995. But before anyone can possibly become engaged by his misdeeds — the man stole more than 200 maps in one year — Miles Harvey, a likable writer and dogged researcher with a snoozy sense of narrative, undercuts the crime, burying Bland beneath detail about the Peabody, previous thefts, and his own directionless map reveries. There are nice historical nuggets here, as well as a few diverting side trips. But most readers would probably be more satisfied by Harvey’s 1997 article in Outside magazine, on which Island is based. At book length, his account gets a little musty. B-