Book about map thief has JP ties

May 23, 2014
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A new nonfiction book about an infamous thief of rare maps has some Jamaica Plain ties.

“The Map Thief,” due out May 29, follows the strange crimes of Edward Forbes Smiley III, who stole maps from the Boston Public Library and Harvard University, among other places, until he was caught in the act at Yale in 2005.

Author Michael Blanding is a former JP resident who told the Gazette he began writing the book while he was still living in Hyde Square. In 2010, Blanding spoke at the Jamaica Plain Forum about his previous book, the Coca-Cola corporation exposé “The Coke Machine.”

JP resident and Harvard professor Alex Krieger has a role in the story. Krieger and Smiley were key supporters of Boston map collector Normal Leventhal, whose collection is now a highlight of the Boston Public Library—and became, ironically, a target of Smiley’s thefts. In the book, Krieger is described as an early skeptic about Smiley’s morals and behavior.

“The Map Thief” will be published by Gotham Books. For more information, see michaelblanding.com.

The cover of “The Map Thief” by Michael Blanding. (Courtesy Image)

The cover of “The Map Thief” by Michael Blanding. (Courtesy Image)