On February 18th, the Friends of the Library will be sponsoring a lecture by Michael Blanding, author of The Map Thief in the Charles Chu Asian Art Reading Room. The lecture will begin at 4:30 and be followed by a reception and a book signing.
In The Map Thief, Blanding tells the true-life story of a map dealer–turned-criminal E. Forbes Smiley III, who stole more than $3 million worth of antique maps from rare-book libraries around the country. Smiley was ultimately caught in 2005 when a librarian spotted a razor blade he dropped on the floor at Yale University, leading to the unraveling of his deceptions. Blanding will discuss exclusive new information about the case -- including some gleaned through the first-ever interview with Smiley himself -- that paints a psychological portrait of a man driven by desperation to betray his friends and colleagues. In addition to talking about Smiley’s thefts, Blanding will also talk about the history behind the maps he stole, and the continuing implications for library security.
Michael Blanding is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute of Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. His work has appeared in WIRED, Slate, The Nation, The New Republic, The Boston Globe Magazine, and Boston, among other publications. His first book, The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World's Favorite Soft Drink, was published by Avery/Penguin in 2010. His latest, The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps, was published by Gotham Books in June 2014, and released in paperback in June 2015. The book has been named a New York Times bestseller, an NPR Book of the Year, a New England Society Book Award winner, and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize and the Massachusetts Book Awards.