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The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsessionby Allison Hoover Bartlett
Wow! What a fascinating book about a fascinating man: John Gilkey, professional book thief. Hoover Bartlett seems to have a hard time untangling herself from her story, which gives the book an interesting discordant feel. It is practically impossible to look away from this man's train wreck of a career, while your loyalties unwillingly waver from book dealers, to Gilkey, to the FBI, and back again. Bibliophiles will alternately salivate and shudder at every detail of every book heist. Delicious!
Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of The Orchid Thief, a compelling narrative set within the strange and genteel world of rare-book collecting: the true story of an infamous book thief, his victims, and the man determined to catch him.
Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be.
John Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed "bibliodick" (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, and how Sanders ultimately caught him but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.
Book News Annotation:
Journalist Bartlett dives in to the world of book collecting much as Alice did down the rabbit hole. Her story begins with the loan of a seventeenth-century book that she fears might be stolen. It leads her to book fairs, antique book shops and a man named Gilkey who steals rare books across the country. Gilkey steals not for love of the contents of the books or the link to authors and centuries past, but because he believes that a fine collection will make him a cultivated person. He uses stolen credit card numbers to make his "purchases." On the other side of the coin are the book dealers who truly love books, read and treasure them. One of them, Ken Sanders, seeing that book theft wasn't high priority to most police investigations, set up an internet system for reporting thefts and attempts to sell stolen books. In her interviews and commentary, Bartlett never quite understands that Gilkey is a sociopath who could be dealing in any form of high end theft. She keeps trying to equate him with Sanders. While there is much incidental information on obsessive book collecting, it's clear that Bartlett remains an outsider trying to make sense of Wonderland. A clear example of this is that she never tells the reader what she did with the rare book that began her quest. The book has a short bibliography but lacks an index. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Unrepentant book thief John Charles Gilkey has stolen a fortune in rare books from around the country. Yet unlike most thieves who steal for profit, Gilkey steals for love-the love of books. Perhaps equally obsessive is Ken Sanders, the self-appointed "bibliodick" who's driven to catch him. Following this eccentric cat-and-mouse chase with a mixture of suspense, insight and humor, Allison Hoover Bartlett plunges the reader deep into a rich world of fanatical book lust and considers what it is that makes some people stop at nothing to posses the titles they love.
About the Author
Allison Hoover Bartlett's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, and other publications. Her original article on John Gilkey was included in The Best American Crime Reporting 2007.
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