Gary Brecht's Reviews > Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks

Maphead by Ken Jennings
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's review
Apr 30, 2012

really liked it
Read in April, 2012

This is Ken Jennings’ apologia for map-lovers everywhere. Written with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor, the author examines our need to explore the planet as well as the history (both personal and worldwide) of mapmaking. Along the way we not only pick up facts about the earth’s geography but we also learn about collectors of antique maps, “roadgeeks” (those with a penchant for charting and photographing the nation’s highways), “geocachers” (individuals seeking hidden treasures with a GPS device), and those who scour the world to locate “degrees of confluence” (where lines of latitude and longitude intersect). In so doing Jennings taps into our “map gene” which he believes to be more prevalent than one might suspect. Anyone familiar with comedian Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” routine knows that there are many “geographically challenged” individuals walking our streets who can’t answer the simplest geography question (like the man who didn’t know in which country the Great Wall of China could be found!) But Jennings believes educators and parents are at fault for not emphasizing this sphere of knowledge. While he suspects we may become too dependent upon modern technology to navigate our world, he remains optimistic that by planting the seeds of curiosity in our children “mapheads” will continue to endure for a long time to come.

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