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Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks Paperback – April 17, 2012
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“It’s a fun read that’s not just for wonks.” —The Salt Lake Tribune
“[A] spirited layman’s history of cartography.” —Harpers
Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great subject, interesting at times, but EXTREMELY unfocused and undisciplined writing. Everyone knows Jennings as the all-time Jeopardy champ, and his knowledge shows in his... Read morePublished 12 days ago by Northwest Reader
Well written book. I have always been interested in maps but I learned so much in this book.Published 13 days ago by Elizabeth A. Meyers
A remarkably well researched and delightfully told book. It read like a novel. I want to read it again and savor every word.Published 2 months ago by CuriousReader
Entertaining, informative, fascinating, challenging, and enlightening. (Is this his first book? - if so, even more impressive)
Very well put together in a sequence that holds... Read more
Never imagined a book about maps could be so fascinating. A very good and educational read.Published 2 months ago by Terry A Hurst
I'm taking a GIS class and we were told that we would be expected to read this before well today, and honestly I was not looking forward to it, but surprisingly enough it was... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amber