Tom Fort

No More Black Holes

On the Map: Why the world looks the way it does

By

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I did not know that a reliable and discreet way of stealing a map from a book is to suck on a thread of cotton and lay it along the bound edge until the enzymes have thinned the binding sufficiently for the page to be gently detached. The cruder, swifter way – with a blade – was favoured by the most prolific of all map thieves, Edward Forbes Smiley, who half-inched 97 of them from libraries in America and Britain. Another serial larcenist, Gilbert Bland, simply tore them out: ‘I just wanted them,’ was his explanation when he came up in court.

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