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Extended Audio Sample Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, by Ken Jennings, Kirby Heyborne Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,665 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Ken Jennings, Kirby Heyborne Narrator: Kirby Heyborne Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Ken 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. Jennings 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, Mapheadis 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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.”

    Salt Lake Tribune

  • “[A] spirited layman’s history of cartography.”


Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Meg | 2/13/2014

    " An awesomely geeky indulgence for a map head such as myself. Easy to read and variety of themes. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Peebee | 2/9/2014

    " This was really well done for what it was...it didn't hold my attention throughout, that's probably more a fault of my interest in the subject than Jennings' proficiency as an author -- he's extremely knowledgeable and very entertaining. But it did make me realize I have more geography wonk tendencies that I had previously realized; and that I might take up geocaching at some point except that I would probably end up like Lynn Black, who just walked away from it all once she realized she had become too obsessed with it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Mary | 1/27/2014

    " Haven't yet read any of Ken Jennings' earlier books, I was pleasantly surprised as I began to read this one; I enjoy his style and had to restrain myself from reading portions aloud to my husband (am I alone in that understandably-annoying habit?) Maphead offers a treasure trove of interesting factoids about Geography (with a capital G) and subtly examines the habits of readers and lifelong learners across generations and over the centuries. An enjoyable, worthwhile read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Scott | 1/25/2014

    " Ken Jennings's richly breezy (is that possible?) Maphead is one of those great, totally geeked out single-subject surveys (here: maps) that goes down a million different, usually fascinating routes to tell the tale, educates and entertains in equal measure, PLUS offers enough personal anecdote and unabashed enthusiasm on and for the subject at hand to give it context, and make it all come alive (which is why I usually don't enjoy Mark Kurlansky's histories: all facts, no heart). Jennings, apparently, had some sort of record winning streak on Jeopardy in the mid-aughts, which is only relevant in that he still clearly appreciates minutia--there are thousands of interesting tidbits here, often in asterixed notes, most of which I've already forgotten--and he's pretty funny and surprisingly catty when Alex Trebek appears on the scene in the (by the way excellent) National Geographic Bee chapter. Other chapters include a visit to an antiquarian map show and the aging-fast gang of eccentrics who populate that world; a look at how Google maps will or won't change everything; a concise history of map-making in general; why cartography is different than geography; maps of imagined worlds, beginning with Tolkien; the (astonishing to me) massive popularity of geocaching, still, to this day, like it didn't end with AOL; the immeasurable, mostly uncatalogued depths of the map collection at the Library of Congress, and on. Add lots of self-deprecating humor (as well as too many way-corny jokes), some nice nostalgic bits about what looking at maps felt like when you're a kid (I guess you could count me as an amateur maphead), and you've got a solid five-star-er. "

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About the Author
Author Ken Jennings

Ken Jennings, best known as the winner of seventy-four games on the television show Jeopardy!, is the bestselling author of Brainiac: Adventures in the Curious, Competitive, Compulsive World of Trivia Buffs and Ken Jennings’s Trivia Almanac. He lives near Seattle with his wife and children.