Impressions of “The Island of Lost Maps” by Miles Harvey

Today I finished The Island of Lost Maps by Miles Harvey. This book was loaned to me some time ago by a very close friend. In truth, I was hesitant to read it because of the ghastly nature of the crime. The description of taking an X-acto knife to library books to rip out maps made me physically ill.

islandoflostmaps

However, the book was a great read. The meandering narrative gave it a hallucinogenic feel, as did the attempts by the author to understand the map thief, one Gilbert Bland. While Harvey can be quite opinionated on historical questions — his denunciation of cartographic “lies” could be tempered by reading Phantom Islands of the Atlantic or even Lands Beyond — I learned a lot about John C. Fremont, and many other characters besides. Harvey clearly enjoys the world of reading maps, and has a list of cool map links on his personal website.

I love maps, and this story of someone who destroyed them for profit was a fascinating read. Like anything with maps and the unknown, it leaves a sad feeling at the end, because after the last page there is no more of this book to read.

Recommended.

3 thoughts on “Impressions of “The Island of Lost Maps” by Miles Harvey”

  1. The book focus on maps and history attracted me. The disgusting crime made me delay reading the book for more than a year. I’m glad I read it, but the first discussion of how a razor blade is taken to an old book almost made me stop.

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