• Maphead

  • Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks
  • By: Ken Jennings
  • Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
  • Length: 10 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (229 ratings)

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Maphead  By  cover art

Maphead

By: Ken Jennings
Narrated by: Kirby Heyborne
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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 listeners say about Maphead

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

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7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

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3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

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2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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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    1 out of 5 stars
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Very difficult to get through...

I work with and make maps every day.... Thought this could be interesting.. Its not. Ken Jennings walks you through his every moment in mundane experiences as if you don't have a life of your own to experience boring situations. Little interesting information, regurgitation of facts from the very vocally proud "grand jeopardy champion".

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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!

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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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.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Informative

Interesting to see reviews that thought this book should be a comedic take on maps. The point of this book is to explore the world of the geographically inclined. So if one thought this book should be humorous beyond some nerdy jokes, well I would recommend looking in to something written by a comedian not a jeopardy champion.

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not funny Not informative

My fault for listening to a book written by some schmuck who won a gameshow. The description is not at all accurate. The narrator mispronounced place names ON A BOOK ABOUT GEOGRAPHY for goodness sake. The chapters run into each other somehow. For instance Chapter 11 in Audible is really Chapter 8. Other chapters just pickup on the last line read, clearly still the same chapter. The anecdotes are misguided often leaving you to wonder what the chapter was supposed to be about in the 1st place. A better option on this topic is "On the Map" by Simon Garfield. Don't waste your money on this book.

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