Best-Selling Author Michael Blanding to Visit UM

Lecture, book signing set for Monday evening


Michael Blanding

OXFORD, Miss. – The life of a map bandit will be the topic of a free lecture Monday (March 21) at the University of Mississippi when New York Times best-selling author Michael Blanding comes to campus.

Blanding will discuss his latest book, “The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps” (Gotham Books, 2014), at 6 p.m. in the Overby Center auditorium. The free lecture and book signing is sponsored by the UM Lecture Series, the Department of English, the J.D. Williams Library and the Mississippi Geographic Alliance.

The book tells the true story of a desperation-driven antiquarian map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley III, who betrayed his friends and family by stealing more than $3 million worth of maps from various rare-book libraries around the country. Blanding will explore the history of the maps Smiley stole, including those of the Deep South, and the importance of library security.

“I look forward to strolling the grounds at Rowan Oak, and I hear that there is a nice Faulkner exhibit in the library’s (Department of ) Special Collections that I am eager to check out,” Blanding said.

“The Map Thief” was named a New York Times best-seller, an NPR Book of the Year, a New England Society Book Award winner and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize and the Massachusetts Book Awards.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn more about the importance of primary documents to scholars and the role of libraries in our current culture,” said Jennifer Ford, UM Libraries’ head of archives and special collections.

For more information about the lecture, contact Ford at or 662-915-7639. For more information on upcoming events hosted by the J.D. Williams Library, visit the library’s website at or follow @UMLibraries on Twitter.