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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:four moon gifBroadway Books (Paperback), ISBN 0767908260
As kids, we fantasized about finding a hidden map where "X" marked the spot. We hoped and prayed that the spot hidden under the "X" overflowed with gold, silver, jewels and happily-ever-after. Treasure maps, pirates and gold doubloons spiced up our childhood dreams, compliments of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic adventure novel Treasure Island.

Book: Miles Harvey, the island of loast mapsMiles Harvey explains in his nonfiction book The Island of Lost Maps how Stevenson himself garnered inspiration for his literary pirate adventure from the treasure map he drew for the book's cover. This anecdote joins a host of other tales of maps and the espionage, crime, passion and history that surround them. The author reveals not only the historic and geometric significance, but also the social, economic, even metaphysical aspects of maps while divulging the mapmakers' secrets.

So much information told in such an interesting format! Miles (what a great name for a man with an interest in cartography) Harvey transforms the book into a treasure map. He leads readers on a journey fraught with detours, hidden trails and unexpected turns until the reader realizes that the journey and the treasure are one. Harvey divulges the truth about Gilbert Bland and his late razor blade rampage through rare book sections of U.S and Canadian libraries. Bland's crimes form the basis for Harvey's investigation of the intrigue surrounding maps and their elevation to treasure status.

Map thieves haunted the cartography trade centuries ago when man began venturing to the other side of the mountain -- and the world. Did Christopher Columbus steal maps? Certainly, the obsession to be the first to find the path, make the journey, discover the truths and collect the treasure created a seller's market for mapmakers. Charts showing the route to the New World became priceless. In the late 20th century, as Gilbert Bland stole maps from libraries and sold them to collectors, antique maps regained their former status. But now collectors sought and stole in the name of historic significance.

Harvey possesses the knack of making his subject significant to his readers too, even if those readers don't know what "cartography" means when they open the book. In hardcover, The Island of Lost Maps qualified as a worthy addition to any library. As a paperback, it becomes an attainable treasure, something everyone can afford -- and should.

Dawn Goldsmith

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