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Travis McDade

Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: McDade is curator of law rare books at the University of Illinois College of Law.

Biography: Travis McDade is a leading expert on crimes against rare books, maps, documents, and other printed cultural heritage resources.


Primary Literary Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers


Selected Titles

  Disappearing ink :
ISBN: 9781682301487 OCLC: 920820523

Diversion Books, New York, NY : 2015.

Like many aspiring writers, David Breithaupt had money problems. But what he also had was unsupervised access to one of the finest special collections libraries in the country. In October 1990 Kenyon College hired David Breithaupt as its library's part-time evening supervisor. In April 2000 he was fired after a Georgia librarian discovered him selling a letter by Flannery O'Connor on eBay, but that was only the tip of the iceberg: for the past ten years, Breithaupt had been browsing the collection, taking from it whatever rare books, manuscripts, and documents caught his eye-Flannery O'Connor letters, W.H. Auden annotated typescripts, a Thomas Pynchon manuscript, and much, much more. It was a large-scale, long-term pillaging of Kenyon College's most precious works. After he was caught, the American justice system looked like it was about to disappoint the college the way it had countless rare book crime victims before-but Kenyon refused to let this happen.

The book thief :
ISBN: 0275993310 OCLC: 70921412

Praeger Publishers, Westport, Conn. : ©2006.

This book leads the reader to the court opinion extolling the value of library and archival materials, United States v. Spiegelman, 4 F. Supp. 2d 275 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). Written by an academic law librarian, the book deftly combines an international manhunt, a self-confessed (but unproven) participant in the Oklahoma City bombings, a $1.3 million dollar theft from the Columbia University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, trial transcripts, and the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Thieves of Book Row :
ISBN: 9780190239718 OCLC: 813938844

The goods were kept in a secure room under constant scrutiny, deep inside a crowded building with guards at the exits. In the Depression, some fellows were willing to try anything-- even a heist in the rare book room of the New York Public Library. McDade tells the gripping tale of the worst book-theft ring in American history, and the intrepid detective who brought it down. The goods: a first edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Minor Poems. A fascinating look at the history of crime and literary culture.

Torn from their bindings :
ISBN: 0700626360 OCLC: 1013481790

"In 1980, an antique print dealer was going broke from competition and lack of supply. Then he discovered all the high-quality antique prints he could ever want--for free--on the shelves of American university libraries. Torn from Their Bindings tells the story of Robert Kindred's brazen theft of irreplaceable antique illustrations and maps from academic libraries across the country--a crime spree that left the irredeemable wreck of countless rare books in its wake. Travis McDade's account of Kindred's pillaging and the paper trail that led to his capture unfolds with the drama of a true crime page-turner--whose pages are replete with the particulars of archival treasures, library science, print preservation, and the history bound up in the cultural heritage plundered by Kindred. Along the way we observe the nature and methods of the book thief, defacer of priceless volumes and purveyor of purloined pages, and acquire a wealth of knowledge about the antique prints he favored. Told by an author devoted to the preservation of books, the story is propelled by an informed curiosity and just outrage from its suspenseful opening to its ironic conclusion--the ultimate fate of Kindred's spoils"--