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Thieves of Book Row: New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It
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Thieves of Book Row: New York's Most Notorious Rare Book Ring and the Man Who Stopped It (Hardback)

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Synopsis

In the late 1920s and early 1930s a ring of thieves, taking orders from a group of second-hand book dealers in lower Manhattan, stole from every public library within a five-state radius. That meant hundreds of institutions and hundreds of thousands of books. The thieves were so unafraid of arrest-or even the slightest resistance to their looting-that they carried out these thefts with little attempt to hide them. Very few people seemed to care at all. In this book, Travis McDade tells the story of the 1931 theft (and later recovery) of Edgar Allan Poe's Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems from the New York Public Library. The book brings readers into a vivid world in which Manhattan booksellers assumed such a theft would be an insignificant event. In fact, the ultimate downfall of this large criminal enterprise was the thieves' underestimation of the libraries. Since most institutions offered no resistance to the wholesale thefts, it was assumed that all libraries were comfortable being victims. But the New York Public Library proved otherwise. The NYPL had a long history of theft detection and prevention, a history precipitated by an early rash of thefts.

So by January 1931, when a young book thief ran out of the front door of the NYPL onto Fifth Avenue, having just stolen three books-Moby Dick, The Scarlet Letter, and the extremely rare Al Aaraaf-from the fantastic rare book collection, the library was well equipped to react. From theft to conviction, McDade follows the story of NYPL special investigator William Bergquist, Book Row theft ring organizer Harry Gold, and Gold's on-the-ground thief Harold Borden Clarke, while providing rich context regarding the rare book world in early twentieth-century America.

Essays & WritingLiterary CriticismLiterary studies: generalPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesCrime & criminologyReference & ResearchLibrary & information sciencesLibrary & information services Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc Publication Date: 13/06/2013 ISBN-13: 9780199922666  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Travis McDade is curator of law rare books and associate professor of library administration at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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