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Maphead : charting the wide, weird world of geography wonks
Ken Jennings
Adult Nonfiction GA105.3 .J46 2011

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Maps reveal not just the lay of the land but the imagination of the beholder, according to this charming investigation of the allure of geography. Jeopardy! phenom Jennings (who recently returned to play against IBM's computer, Watson) surveys all manner of charts, from rudimentary animal maps-ants, he notes, navigate by counting their paces, a fact discovered when entomologists had them walk on stilts-to augmented reality maps that let you revise the world. But his main interest is the humans who pore over maps. They are a colorful lot: preteen National Geographic Bee contestants who spend seven hours a day studying atlases; hobbyists intent on visiting every state's maximum elevation; and Tolkienesque fantasists who condense whole imaginary civilizations into a map. Jennings (Brainiac), who admits to being "a geography wonk" himself, is their bard, and his enthusiasm for everything from bizarre and off-color place names to the mystic intersection points of lines of latitude and longitude is infectious. He's also 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. Illus. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

In 2004 Jennings won $2.52 million on Jeopardy!, which he chronicled in Brainiac. Now, in this witty and fast-paced narrative, he reveals himself as a "maphead," a cartophile who, as a child, took his atlas to bed with him. In exploring America's relationship to maps and geography, he introduces us to the geography and map division of the Library of Congress. We enter the world of international antique map dealers by attending the Royal Geographic Society's London Map Fair and meet younger mapheads at the annual National Geographic Bee. Next we encounter the world of the "roadgeeks," who monitor every change in our roads and highways and their signage. Wildest of all are the thousands of people caught up in geocaching, stashing and locating little treasure troves via a website and GPS coordinates. The final visit is with Brian McClendon in his Google Geo office at Google Earth's California headquarters and a discussion of "augmented reality," the apotheosis of mapping. -VERDICT This will be a delightful adventure for map mavens and those who enjoyed Mark Monmonier's From Squaw Tit to Whorehouse Meadow and Mark Stein's How the States Got Their Shapes. [Stein's sequel, How the States Got Their Shapes Too, is reviewed on p. 101.-Ed.]-Edward K. Werner, St. Lucie Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Pierce, FL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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