(Winner of the 2015 New England Society Book Award for History and Biography) Affable and deeply knowledgeable, E. Forbes Smiley III was well-liked and well-trusted in the reading rooms and auction houses he frequented, until the day he unknowingly dropped his hidden knife blade on the floor of Yale University Library. Investigative journalist Michael Blanding explores our particular fascination for maps—both as works of art and as practical tools to navigate the world—in this account of an infamous crime and a charming map dealer with a shameful secret. He also reveals the often cutthroat trade in antique maps, taking us into a world peopled by quirky and sometimes disreputable characters in search of a finite number of extremely rare objects.
"A gripping, suspenseful tale, told by a veteran investigative reporter. And yes, it comes with maps."—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Blanding juxtaposes the story of Smiley's high earnings career and subsequent fall from grace into theft with the history of the map creators themselves. His book is as much a riveting true-crime tale as it is a fascinating peek inside the little-seen world of mapmaking and collecting."—Booklist