Maphead by Ken Jennings: a book review


Maphead by Ken Jennings

I recently read Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by former game show contestant Ken Jennings. The book covers a miscellany of topics related to maps and to the people who love them. Among the actual maps that Jennings mentions are these (click images to zoom):

 
 
Top left: a stick map from the Marshall Islands in the National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC (my photo); top right: the two Koreas at night (NASA image); bottom left: detail of the 1507 Waldseemüller map (Library of Congress); bottom right: Vermeer’s Officer and Laughing Girl

Jennings also includes several geographical anecdotes, including (of course) a reference to this:

Miss Teen South Carolina 2007 answers the question “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?

There are also chapters on map collecting, geocaching, and the National Geographic Bee:

Map resources referred to (in passing) in the book include:

Overall, the book was fun, but a little light (the Wall Street Journal called it “an occasionally entertaining book that lacks a compass”). I’m giving it three stars. See Slate and The Atlantic for other reviews.

* * *
Maphead by Ken Jennings: 3 stars


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