Tweed-Collar Crime

My review of Michael Blanding’s The Map Thief ran as the lead review in yesterday’s Sunday Boston Globe books page. Here’s a link, and here’s how the piece opens up:

Extravagant crimes don’t always require extravagant tools. With only his tweed blazer, a bit of trust, and an X-Acto blade, E. Forbes Smiley transformed himself from one of the world’s most successful rare- map dealers into one of the world’s most notorious map thieves.

It was easy. After spending decades working alongside librarians at such institutions as Harvard, the Boston Public Library, and Yale, Smiley needed only to request a folder of rare maps or an atlas. His heists were subtle — a moment unobserved and the near silence of a blade through paper. Smiley removed the map, folded it to the size of a credit card, and then walked out the door with hundreds of years of history in his tweed pocket.

Simple and effective, Smiley filched more than $3 million worth of maps during his spree.

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