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Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks [Kindle Edition]

Ken Jennings
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.38
You Save: $5.62 (35%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

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Book Description

It comes as no surprise that, as a kid, Jeopardy! legend Ken Jennings slept with a bulky Hammond world atlas by his pillow every night. Maphead recounts his lifelong love affair with geography and explores why maps have always been so fascinating to him and to fellow enthusiasts everywhere.

Jennings takes readers on a world tour of geogeeks from the London Map Fair to the bowels of the Library of Congress, from the prepubescent geniuses at the National Geographic Bee to the computer programmers at Google Earth. Each chapter delves into a different aspect of map culture: highpointing, geocaching, road atlas rallying, even the “unreal estate” charted on the maps of fiction and fantasy. He also considers the ways in which cartography has shaped our history, suggesting that the impulse to make and read maps is as relevant today as it has ever been.

 

From the “Here be dragons” parchment maps of the Age of Discovery to the spinning globes of grade school to the postmodern revolution of digital maps and GPS, Maphead is filled with intriguing details, engaging anecdotes, and enlightening analysis. If you’re an inveterate map lover yourself—or even if you’re among the cartographically clueless who can get lost in a supermarket—let Ken Jennings be your guide to the strange world of mapheads.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011: Ken Jennings, best known for his epic winning streak on Jeopardy! in 2004, returns to the writing world with Maphead, a charming, funny, and of course, informational book about the world of maps and the people who love them. Even if maps are not your thing, Jennings writes about them with such affection and humor that the topic becomes fascinating; the clever captions for the maps in the book alone are worth the read. (The first map in the book compares shapes of places that were “separated at birth” and are therefore soul mates. Included: Lake Michigan and Sweden). From the politics of geocaching to the ups and downs of the contestants participating in the National Geographic Bee (which, according to Alex Trebek, should have its own prime-time show like the spelling bee), Jennings captures the excitement and wonder of places. --Caley Anderson

Review

“Jennings is a very witty, insightful writer and has written an entertaining and educational book about maps and the geeks who obsess over them.” —Pauline Frommer, travel writer and founding editor of Frommers.com

“It’s a fun read that’s not just for wonks.” —The Salt Lake Tribune

Product Details

  • File Size: 8237 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00E28UVFK
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (September 20, 2011)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IK98BK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,005 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
75 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Map Geeks, Ahoy! And the rest of us will have fun, too September 23, 2011
Format:Hardcover
Although I expected a trivia book--perhaps even a trivial book--Ken Jennings manages to seamlessly weave fun factoids into compelling narratives about geography lovers. Jennings spends time with kids at the National Geography Bee (which is where Alex Trebek dissed American knowledge of geography!). He talks to road geeks who notice differing fonts on various interstate road signs ("Look for the curved tail on the lowercase `l'!"). He touches on about border disputes, gender, brain science, pop culture, politics, history, and religion. In the course of researching for the book he even became addicted to geocaching, a treasure hunting game played by GPS owners all over the world--a pastime which Jennings sees as a human attempt to re-infuse the world with treasure and mystery. "Cartophilia" is alive and well, and Jennings hopes to spread the love: "If you never open a map until you're lost," he insists, "you're missing out on all the fun" (120). His book is a lot of fun.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't even like geography September 20, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm notoriously bad at geography, but this book is nonetheless interesting and easy to read. I love Ken's style of mixing hardcore nerdy knowledge with enough personal and/or humorous detail that you don't feel you are just wading through a bunch of facts. It makes geography sound so sexy and cool that I just want to go buy an atlas.

I'm reading on Kindle and the format seems great, other than the afore-mentioned duplicated first illustration. The book was delivered to my Kindle at 12:02 am this morning, so I couldn't ask for better service there!
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-researched and well-written September 20, 2011
By T. Rex
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was expecting that this would have more maps and visuals, which is why I bought a paper edition instead of Kindle or iBooks. Now that I have it I think it would work fine on Kindle, though I can't speak to that edition.

As for the content, I'm a loyal reader of Ken's blog, which should give you a feel for whether you like his style or not. If you do, the subject matter won't matter. But even if you don't, you'll probably appreciate this book if you're a geography buff.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ken Jennings You Just Lost the Game on Page 3 September 23, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I cannot believe that I have found Ken Jennings making a factual error. And he did so immediately on page 3 of this wonderful read. "Look how Ardmore, Alabama, is only a hundred feet away from its neighbor Ardmore, Louisiana..."
Really?!!!
I am no Ken Jennings, not even close, although I watched every one of his appearances of "Jeopardy!" and recall the day he wasn't able to recall H&R Block. Love this guy.
But, Ken, even I know that there is a state between Alabama and Louisiana--Mississippi. So I did a Google search. Seems there is no Ardmore, Louisiana, but the Ardmore in Alabama is in the north central. And I thought, maybe Tennessee. And sure enough, there it is, Ken, in Tennessee.
So that set me on a search for more factual errors in the book. But alas, alack, I just got so sucked up in the book I forgot what my task was.
This is just a delightful read. And, no, you do not need to be a geography nerd. Or a map nerd. I'm not although I do find myself Googling maps a lot. And when Ken Jennings writes about slutty place names as well as unusual geographic circumstances, I am brought back to my early life when I grew up in Derby Line, Vermont, the "line" there to indicate that the Quebec border is there. The local library, the Haskell Free, is half in the U.S. and half in Cananda. And above is the opera house where the state is in Quebec and the audience--or most of it--sits in the United States. Back then we thought nothing of this, but today it is not the case. Ken Jennings missed telling this tale, so I thought I would.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Geography Is Everything! November 30, 2011
By L. King
Format:Hardcover
One of my children's geography teachers had a saying that "Geography is Everything!" - by knowing where things were we could understand history and why people act the way they do. I'm a maphead like Ken Jennings. Sort of. Like him I grew up with a puzzle map and a cardboard globe and an ablum of stamps from far off places applied cautiously with little sticky semi-transparent hinges with a spot for a unobtainable penny farthing just in case. And put me in a far off city and I can figure out how to get around in under a day and get from A to B because I've presearched it through maps, though these days I'm more likely to have used MapQuest or Google Earth. So I agree.

Jennings book does a good job of popularizing people's enthusiasm for maps. Beginning with the concern that Americans know less than they should about geography he relates the story of University of Miami associate professor David Helgren, who in 1983 received undue noteriety when his story of how poorly students in his first year class were able to locate items in a list of 30 place names including the cities of Miami and Chicago. Speculatively there are number of reasons to consider, including the rise in protective parents who were afraid to let their children bike and explore their neighbourhoods alone and the high % of students who are driven to and from school.

There's lots of interesting map lore, and interesting segments on private map collectors, map thieves and the huge archive of maps available for perusing in public facilities such as libraries and the Smithsonian. It is humbling to realize that the 1st national survey of modern times started by Geovani Cassini in 1670 was only finished 100 years later by his grandson.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A really good read
I really enjoyed it and learned a lot. I'll be quoting things like the highest point in Florida and the meaning of a triple island (answers are in the book). Read more
Published 7 days ago by Allan French
4.0 out of 5 stars great read; learned a lot
Author writes very well! And keeps moving! Truly enjoyed spending my time reading!
Anyone who loves maps, will love this book
Published 13 days ago by Christina
3.0 out of 5 stars Should have been interesting
Bought this for my Kindle, and that was a mistake, I think. It would probably work better as a genuine book. I will think more carefully next time about a book about maps.
Published 14 days ago by Susan Hayward
5.0 out of 5 stars fun read
We both really enjoyed this. Jennings writes in an engaging and flowing manner. We learned a lot. I recommend this.
Published 17 days ago by Photokent
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and Amusing Book with a Clever Title
This is a funny and informative book about Ken Jennings adventures with maps all his life and his search for geographical information and maps during the writing of this book. Read more
Published 23 days ago by Riverboat
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift for my map guy husband
My husband loves to look at maps. He has enjoyed this book. I'd recommend it for any other map people out there.
Published 1 month ago by Anne Webber
4.0 out of 5 stars Afflicted with cartacacoethes and proud of it
I have always been a maphead. Every Saturday morning when I was little I would head up the street to the Mississauga Central Library, and spend my time upstairs in the adults'... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Craig Rowland
5.0 out of 5 stars yeah
excellant, fun, had no problems, wish i needed another and had the money. or maybe i do but i only need one. hi
Published 1 month ago by Leeroy151
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a Jeopardy champ
Ken Jennings is a terrific writer with all the best traits of Wil Wheaton and Neil Degrasse Tyson: a quirky genius who explains supernerdy things to normal people in a genuinely... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for map geeks
This book is well researched and humorous, but that's not what makes it great. I think it gets to the core of why people love maps, why some of us are obsessed with them.
Published 3 months ago by Ryan Staake
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More About the Author

Ken Jennings was an anonymous Salt Lake City software engineer in 2004 when he became a nerd folk icon almost overnight via his record-breaking six-month streak on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! In his 75 appearances on the show, Ken won 74 games and $2.52 million, both American game show records. Barbara Walters named him one of the ten most fascinating people of the year. The Christian Science Monitor called him "the king of Trivia Nation" and Slate magazine dubbed him "the Michael Jordan of trivia, the Seabiscuit of geekdom." ESPN: The Magazine called him "smarmy (and) punchable," with "the personality of a hall monitor," thus continuing America's long national struggle between jocks and nerds.

Since his Jeopardy! streak ended, Ken has become a best-selling author. His books include Brainiac, about the phenomenon of trivia in American culture, Ken Jennings's Trivia Almanac, the biggest American trivia book ever assembled, and Maphead, about his lifelong love of geography. His latest book is Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down Its Kids.

Ken currently lives outside Seattle, Washington, with his wife Mindy, his son Dylan and daughter Caitlin, and a deeply unstable Labrador retriever named Banjo. For more information, visit www.ken-jennings.com.

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