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The Island of Lost Maps

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Letter From Mies Harvey
(Sept. 4th, 2001)

 

 


"The Island of Lost Maps is an intriguing literary adventure story, written with flair, imagination, and precision. By recreating the journey of a strange and remarkable map thief, author Miles Harvey takes readers on a compelling exploration of the weird world of maps."

--Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief

"Every once in a blue moon you read a book that leaves you absolutely breathless, reminding you of the bright, hidden worlds within our world. This is that book, a glimmering, supersonic journey into terra incognita where Miles Harvey, acting as writer and sleuth, peruses America's greatest map thief. This is a riveting book of twists and turns, unexpected confessions and deep human truths."

--Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain

"Just like the most elegant of the maps at the center of this intricate tale, Miles Harvey's impeccably-written guide to the extraordinary and unsung obsessions of the cartomaniac is intriguing, beguiling and refined. And as with the best of maps, the more one looks, the more fascinating and intriguing it all becomes."

--Simon Winchester, author of The Professor and the Madman
"Miles Harvey embarks on a journey, at once circuitous and compelling, into the dark heart of a map thief. ... "The Island of Lost Maps is not so much an island as an archipelago, comprising dozens of seductive stories, by turns intriguing, amusing and erudite."
--Smithsonian Magazine, Oct. 2001

"[Harvey] has delved, chased, interviewed, telephoned, persuaded, and at last computerized a mass of fascinating information which he unloads with engaging honesty and a light hand."

--The Scotsman (Edinburgh), Feb. 11, 2001

"[Harvey] tells the story in clear, bite-size chunks that advance the narrative at an engaging pace. ... A rather gripping detective yarn."

--Financial Times (London), Feb. 11, 2001

"Fabulous ... a vast, rambling shaggy dog story of a book that constantly digresses into the weird and the wonderful. ... In Bland, one senses, [Harvey] has discovered an unknown country. What a fascinating place it is."

--The Daily Mail (London), Feb. 9, 2001

"In this elegantly written book, the American journalist Miles Harvey has cleverly tapped into our collective fascination with maps and produced a quirky chronicle of cartographical development disguised as a literary crime story."

--The Daily Telegraph (London), Jan 29, 2001
"Skillfully constructed, with repeated shifts of focus and variety of tone, pace and subject."
--The Sunday Times (London), Jan. 14, 2001
"A riveting and hilarious book of twists and turns."
--Global Adventure, Jan./Feb. 2001
"This small gem of a book seems to break nearly every rule of non-fiction writing, but nevertheless comes up shining like buried treasure."
--January Magazine, Jan. 2001
"Indefatigably researched and elegantly written ... The Island Of Lost Maps offers a wonderfully accessible history of cartography for an audience new to the subject."
--The Toronto Star, Dec. 3, 2000
"Miles Harvey turns out to be an ideal narrator for this story. Harvey's enthusiasm toward his subject ...enlivens his insightful and informative storytelling."
--The Daily Yomiuri (Tokyo), Nov. 26, 2000
"[An] absorbing tour through the history of mapmaking, map collecting, and map stealing ... a remarkable voyage of discovery."
--Maclean's, Nov. 20, 2000
"Layer upon layer of rich lore about maps: the explorers who make them, the artists and printers who publish them, the collectors who covet them, the visionaries who see in them the blueprints of their dreams. .... As with every happy explorer, Mr. Harvey's journey matters more than his destination."
--The Dallas Morning News, Nov. 12, 2000
"The story is a treasure hunt and ... the book itself turns out to be the treasure."
--The Columbus Dispatch, Nov. 5, 2000
"The Island of Lost Maps is hard to put down."
--The Providence Journal, Nov. 5, 2000
"The Island of Lost Maps fits into the impossible-to-put-down category. ... Harvey is as meticulous as the antique mapmakers he writes about."
--New City (Chicago), Oct. 29, 2000
"A remarkable new book."
--The Palm Beach Post, Oct. 25, 2000

"A gem ... The rich world contained within surely is worth the price of admission."

--GlobalTV.com, Oct. 17, 2000
"Reads like a true-crime thriller."
--San Antonio Express-News, Oct. 15, 2000

"A fascinating account ... well-written, entertaining and should give pleasure to many."

--Publishing News (London), Oct. 13, 2000

"The Island of Lost Maps is a captivating read."

--The Gazette (Montreal), Oct. 7, 2000

"Erudite and literary ... As maps go, this one is engagingly artistic and detailed, as fanciful and decorated as some of the collectible antiquities mentioned between the covers."

--The Austin Chronicle, Oct. 6, 2000
"Elegant and enticing. ... Harvey tells the enthralling story with relish, and with equal parts admiration and admonition, as he himself maps the obsessions that can drive one through the uncharted territories of their own psyche."
--ABCNews.com, Oct. 3, 2000
"Careful reporter that he is, Harvey gracefully provides an enormous amount of interesting detail about the world of maps. ... The real virtue of The Island of Lost Maps isn't ultimately the story of Bland, but the rich story of the eternal human urge to quest, journey, voyage and tell tales thereof."
--The Oregonian, Oct. 1, 2000

"Miles Harvey's first book [is] not a novel, though its story is so strange and imaginatively constructed that it might well be. ... Fascinating and disturbing ... a consummate success."

--The Globe and Mail (Toronto), Sept. 30, 2000

"A terrific look into one of the world's million startling subcultures."

--Newsday, Sept. 28, 2000

"A fascinating and, to book lovers, an ultimately horrifying tale."

--National Public Radio's "Fresh Air," Sept. 28, 2000

"A ripping yarn that will send any self-respecting map enthusiast in many new directions."

--The Hartford Courant, Sept. 24, 2000

"[E]very bit as compelling and strange as any suspense or mystery novel."

        --Chicago Tribune, Sept. 17, 2000

"By blending just the right amount of varied detail into his work, it is as if Miles Harvey has become an excellent mapmaker himself."

--The Baltimore Sun, Sept. 17, 2000

"The Island of Lost Maps is a treat. It's part history, part detective story and part journey of self-discovery all rolled up into one. The scholarship behind the work is exemplary, and the presentation a joy."

--Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Sept. 17, 2000

"Meticulously researched and passionately written."

--The Vancouver Sun, Sept. 11, 2000

"A compelling account. ... It is the process of discovery that is important here, and Harvey is a wonderful guide for that particular destination."

--San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 10, 2000

"The Island of Lost Maps takes us through some intriguing biways of discovery."

--National Post (Canada), Sept. 9, 2000

"A literary treasure ... a fascinating intellectual adventure story ... an astonishingly imaginative book.

--USA Today, Sept. 7, 2000

"[A] fascinating world ... Like a good map, the book's myriad rewards lie in its details."

-- Forbes magazine, Sept. 4, 2000
"Harvey writes well, with a passion for people and especially maps."
--St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 3, 2000

"Brisk and humorous. ... In Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson concocted a strange tale of what happens when people follow a map to buried treasure. Now, in The Island of Lost Maps, we can follow an even more strange, true story of what happens when the map itself is the treasure."

--Miami Herald, Sept. 3, 2000

"Harvey ... has immensely entertained us."

--St. Petersburg Times, Sept. 3, 2000
"As entertaining as the most fancifully illustrated old map you could find."
--San Francisco Magazine, Sept. 2000

"Reads like a good detective novel. It is packed with literary allusions, but without literary snobbery."

--Associated Press, Sept. 2000
 
"The Island of Lost Maps is more than a tale of true crime. ... [T]his is a fascinating work--a successful cross between The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester and The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.
--National Review, Sept. 2000
"This year that break-out book might just be The Island of Lost Maps. . ."
--from "Handicapping the Fall Titles," Publishers Weekly, May 28, 2000

"Harvey's method is to paint the background so meticulously that the foreground will somehow appear. It works. ... [He] has drawn a lovely map of an exotic world."

--Kirkus Reviews, [starred review] July 1, 2000

"An all-consuming read that is impossible to put down."

--Booklist, July 2000

"A challenging and erudite exploration of the explosion in 'map culture' and the damage wrought by one determined con man with cartographic passions.  ... [Harvey] offers dry wit and a fine sense of the dark places in our contemporary landscape, and he successfully captures both the story of Bland's bizarre 'map crime spree' and the underexamined history and politics of contemporary cartography."

--Publishers Weekly, July 24, 2000

"[Harvey's] narrative is straightforward, informative and even amusing."

--Washington Post, August 24, 2000

"Instead of writing a simple true-crime story, he has constructed around it a chronicle of discovery, an exploration of the fascinating world of maps and their deep meaning in human endeavor.  ... [Harvey] has charted a magical, endlessly engrossing map of a world most of us probably have thought fusty and uninteresting. The Island of Lost Maps may well be the great breakout nonfiction book of the year, as Dava Sobel's Longitude was in 1995."

--Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2000

"Highly descriptive and well-paced prose ... an entertaining advenenture in history, humanity, and the role cartography plays in it all.

--BookPage, September 2000

"In following the trail of the aptly named Gilbert Bland ... intrepid explorer Harvey displays his genius for making known the world of maps and its enormous influence on human events. ... Even with the astonishing breadth and depth of information that Harvey conveys, The Island of Lost Maps is smartly paced, with an engaging cast of characters." 

--Book magazine, September/October 2000