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The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime
by Miles Harvey
Miles Harvey is an American journalist and author. He is best known for his 2000 book, The Island of Lost Maps, which recounted the strange story of a Floridian named Gilbert Bland, who stole many old and precious maps from various libraries across America.
Harvey graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1984 with a B.S. degree in journalism and earned an M.F.A. degree in English from the University of Michigan in 1991. He worked for United Press International, In These Times and Outside on a variety of topics and issues. While at Outside he wrote a 1997 story on Gilbert Bland, which was the origin for The Island of Lost Maps.
Harvey states that he has had a lifelong fascination with maps, which he partially attributes to his father's similar interest. The Island of Lost Maps doesn't just tell the story of Bland's crimes, but also relates much cartographic lore and legend and even includes material on Harvey's own life and family. The various strands of narrative occasionally make the book "unwieldy" in the words of a Publishers Weekly review, and Harvey himself points out on his website that Time called the book "meandering" and Newsweek found it had "no sense of direction." Several reviewers on the book's Amazon.com page echo such criticisms.
But many other reviewers of Harvey's self-described "quirky" book found much to praise. The Sunday Times called the book "skillfully constructed, with repeated shifts of focus and variety of tone, pace and subject." The book became a surprise bestseller. Harvey has also written a number of short stories for The Michigan Quarterly Review, The Sun, Nimrod, and other publications. He currently resides in Chicago and received a 2004 fellowship for fiction from the Illinois Arts Council.
In 2008, Harvey published his second book, Painter in a Savage Land: The Strange Saga of the First European Artist in North America. This is a non-fiction work that chronicles Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues's adventures with the French expedition to Florida led by Jean Ribault during the sixteenth century.
- The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime by Miles Harvey, Random House 2000 ISBN 0-375-50151-7
- Painter in a Savage Land: The Strange Saga of the First European Artist in North America by Miles Harvey, Random House 2008 ISBN 978-1-4000-6120-4
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