HistoryofScience.com Blog

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Do You Prefer the Map Thief in the Wikipedia or the Forger's Autobiography?

In 2005 a map dealer, E. Forbes Smiley III, was caught stealing maps from Yale's Beinicke Library, leading to an investigation proving that he had stolen maps from numerous institutions, and that he had sold them to various unsuspecting dealers and clients. In everyone's best interests except Smiley's, the case received a great deal of publicity during 2005 to 2007, leading to increased security at some rare book libraries. A well-known expert on early maps, Smiley's M O was to study early atlases and travel books in rare book libraries and reading rooms, and-- when nobody was looking--razor out individual maps and sneak them out concealed in his clothing. When he returned the volume to the librarian he knew that the removal of a thin leaf or two from a bound volume would not be noticeable. Through this scheme, which went undetected for several years, Smiley was able to sell, often at comparatively reasonable prices, some of the world's rarest and most desirable maps. His arrest and conviction brought him jail time, demands for restitution, and notoriety that he did not desire, including a good, objective article in the Wikipedia.

Is the crime of theft that much different than the crime of forgery? Recently the biographer and forger of literary autographs, Lee Israel, published a brief (127pp.) self-aggrandizing autobiographical account of her escapades entitled Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger. Most probably the institutional libraries, dealers, and scholars she conned cannot forgive her. However, the New York Times reviewer, Thomas Mallon, seems understanding about the human aspects of these admittedly interesting literary crimes. Certainly the publishers, Simon & Schuster, must have felt that there was a ready market for this story. Will a film be in the works?

After posting the above a much more objective review of Lee Israel's book in the Los Angeles Times came to my attention. The reviewer, Jonathan Shapiro, a former federal prosecutor, is an adjunct law professor at USC and a co-executive producer on the NBC television drama "Life." To Shapiro " 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' is an entertaining read that showcases Israel's many gifts as a writer, as well as her tragic defects as a human being. Caveat emptor: It is the work of a self-confessed liar."

UPDATE: On August 17, the New York Times published the following letters concerning the literary forgeries of Lee Israel:

To the Editor:

As a biographer, no, I cannot ever forgive Lee Israel, the author of “Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger” (Aug. 3). The letters she forged make a mockery of writers’ attempts to seek out the truth when researching books. But Israel gets a Simon & Schuster contract for her crimes and thinks the whole thing is “a big hoot.” As for me, I’d like to see her head on a pike in front of the New York Public Library, as a warning to others.

Eve Golden
Lyndhurst, N.J.

To the Editor:

As the dealer who approached the F.B.I. with his suspicions regarding Lee Israel’s forgeries and theft of rare letters from Columbia University, and who participated in the operation that caught her, I am appalled by the tone of the press coverage her book has received. Among the forgers mentioned in your review could be added the name of Mark Hofmann, the 1980s forger of Mormon historical documents, who not only defrauded dozens of dealers and betrayed his co-religionists but murdered several people to conceal his crimes. Maybe he, too, will write a “pretty damned fabulous book” about his “misadventures.” Betrayal, greed and immorality are not so amusing to the scholars, collectors, dealers and institutions Israel hurt.

David Lowenherz
New York

posted by Jeremy Norman @ 8:56 AM   11 Comments


At November 19, 2017 at 7:34 PM , Blogger bhangad said...

Fifa 18 Coin Generator Hack – Free Coins, Points No Survey

At April 18, 2018 at 7:13 AM , Blogger ninja said...

Thanks for sharing.I found a lot of interesting information here. A really good post, very thankful and hopeful that you will write many more posts like this one.
Kodi Download APK
ShowBox Download APK
Lucky Patcher Download APK

At October 23, 2018 at 10:26 PM , Blogger Edu Birdie said...

Captivating article! Thankful to you for sharing them! I believe you will continue having equivalent shows on share with everyone! I trust numerous people will be dumbfounded to examine this article!
Web:Thesis writing service

At October 31, 2018 at 12:17 AM , Blogger porter said...

RedBox TV apk
Cloud TV apk
Videoder apk
RedBox TV For PC
Cloud TV For PC
Videoder For PC
RedBox TV
Cloud TV
RedBox TV For PC
Cloud TV For PC
Videoder For PC

At July 22, 2019 at 1:09 AM , Blogger Taylor Bara said...

Guys, I truly believe that you need to look at this post to gain more experience on persuasive essay writing.

At August 21, 2019 at 5:15 AM , Blogger Angel Claudia said...

Are you a student or researcher, looking for affordable online Term Paper Help Services? Well, worry, not mate, because we got you covered. We purvey exceptionally, top-quality Thesis Writing Services for all your academic research writing needs, regardless of the type of research paper or your academic level.

At August 22, 2019 at 4:02 AM , Blogger harshak said...

tiktok apk
happychick apk
happymod apk

At November 18, 2019 at 2:04 PM , Blogger abo-bder said...

شركة تنظيف خيام بالرياض
شركة تنظيف فرشات بالرياض
شركة تنظيف فرشات بالخرج

At January 1, 2020 at 10:38 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

kepuasan dalam bercinta bisa diraih oleh kedua pasangan asal selalu menjaga stamina sebelum beraktifitas seksual, namun akhir-akhir ini banyak wanita yang mengeluh karena banyak pria yang tidak bisa memberi kepuasan lantaran mereka mengalami disfungsi ereksi sehingga alat vital tidak dapat ereksi ketika mau berhubungan intim, dengan hadirnya pil biru asli cod di cikarang bisa memberikan segalanya bagi pasutri yang ingin mencapai klimaks ketika berhubungan badan baca seterusnya . kebutuhan biologis memang sangat penting untuk anda perhatikan karena jika sampai hal ini kita diamkan maka bisa mengakibatkan retaknya hubungan keluarga hingga dapat menimbulkan penceraian. jual permen soloco cod di karawang barat solusi terbaik bagi pria yang tidak bisa mengonsumsi jenis tablet karena rasanya yang pahit. permen soloco memiliki rasa coklat yang kebanyakan disuka oleh pria maupun wanita dengan rasa yang khas. klik disini . kini klg di semarang tengah banyak anda jumpai ditoko obat yang menjual obat-obatan khas untuk pria akan tetapi keaslian produk harus anda ketehaui sebelum anda membelinya ditempat tersebut info lebih lanjut .

At June 22, 2020 at 6:08 AM , Blogger meldaresearch said...

It is important for theology & religion writing service students to seek Religion & Theology Research Writing Services from a reputable theology & religion research paper service provider for their custom theology & religion assignment writing services.

At September 10, 2020 at 12:41 AM , Blogger takesurveyinfo said...

This blog post is really useful to us..Thanks For sharing this valuable information..
See This post Customer Feedback Survey in this Eat n Park is providing its customers with an opportunity to win Free Eat n Park Coupons through Eat N Park Customer Survey. Click Here I hope you like this post and enjoy it.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

back to top