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Publisher's Summary

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 listeners 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.

©2011 Ken Jennings (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[Jennings is] alive to the larger meaning of maps as they overlay knowledge, desire, and aspiration onto the mute reality of terrain. The result is a delightful mix of lore and reportage that illuminates the longing to know where we are." (Publishers Weekly Starred Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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  • Story

A Romp through Maps

I approached Ken Jennings’ new book, Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, without expectations. I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. In autobiographical chapters he tells of his early interest in maps and considers the type of people who are drawn to maps (pardon the pun). Jennings spends some time telling the reader about the rarified world of map collectors and of the national geography competition entertained by high school students across the country. The more interesting sections to me were related to the development of Google Maps and their impact on map making and our conceptualization of the world. He describes Google Maps as a one-to-one representation of the globe and wonders if Google Maps will bring the end to map making as we have known it. Essentially, I found Maphead to be an engaging, entertaining, interesting, and informative romp through everything map related. Kirby Heybone does a grand job of reading the text.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Interesting, engaging, and laugh out loud funny

Even as someone who isn't that into geography, this was something that kept my attention all the way through. Funny anecdotes, interesting ideas and good pacing.

Also, I want to highlight Mr. Heyborne's narration - it really added to the experience. I usually prefer when a book is read by the author, but I can't imagine anyone doing a better job adding life to the text.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fun

As a geek and map lover- this was a fun book to read over break. I learned a few new things, but just as importantly got to have the moments of " it is not just me". I recommend this to anyone who likes maps or watches the weather channel for fun.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I'm a Maphead!

Where does Maphead rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is an interesting and unusual book, but not a life-changing one for me.

What did you like best about this story?

I love maps, and want to know more about geography and history; but I am not really interested in all the numerous clubs and peoples who set, in some cases, very unusual goals in their geographical pursuits.

Which character – as performed by Kirby Heyborne – was your favorite?

The author himself is the most interesting of the characters of the book.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Mapheads Gone Wild!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Normal, IL, United States
  • 10-25-11

Mapheads Unite

If you like maps, geocaching, National Geographic GeoBee, history, etc then you will enjoy this book. It covers a variety of topics in depth while pacing itself well. The author includes personal stories, love of topic, and experiences researching for the book.

Narrator did well and I enjoyed the book.

I ask that Audible start including pdf's of the pictures included within printed version of books. This would have increased the enjoyment of this book given the topic. I think this is a good book for audible with pictures of the maps really adding to it.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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It was ok

Not the most interesting thing I've ever read, probably would be better for real map nerds

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Quite an interesting story

This is a wide-ranging book about all kinds of map-related topics. It opened my eyes to several things I knew nothing about (like geo-caching), and gave some fascinating background on many other things. Very enjoyable listening!

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Interesting and engaging

As a map head myself, I loved it, but the mispronunciations by the reader were distracting (Samuel Pepys, the Thames River, trompe l'oeuil, and more)

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I have no idea who the audience for this book is.

Maybe it's me, because I really enjoyed it. Ken Jennings is a clever and witty dude whose mildly sarcastic observations on mildly kooky folks comes off as lovable rather than snarky. This is definitely a niche topic, but even if your interest in maps and geography isn't keen, the humorous prose and spot-on narration make it a good use of your time.

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Or, how cool am I?

See above. There is very little in this book for map lovers except to learn how cool you are for liking maps, how special people who like maps, and pedantic worry about the future of map lovers.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful