Audrey’s Chapter 5 Summary and Review

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 Hey AP Human Geo! This is AL, and I’m a junior. I took this class because I am absolutely fascinated by geography, and anyone who knows me will tell you the same goes for humans. I was born in Los Angeles, California, but had two passports by the time I was one years old; my dad is Austrian, and I visit what I consider to be my homeland every year. I then moved to Cape Town, South Africa when I was ten and fell in love with the culture there. After two years, I returned to the United States where I picked up Spanish, which I now speak fluently. Additionally, I hope to learn German in Vienna next summer with my stepbrother.
Although an entertaining summer read, “Maphead” had one particular chapter that stood out: Chapter 5. As somewhat of a cartophiliac myself, it is only natural that the chapter on antique maps and their collectors appealed to me. This dividend of the “Maphead” kicks off in Queen Anne town house, where Ken Jennings and his wife explore the London Map Fair. The couple meander through a unique showcase and market of antique maps, ranging from 19th century depictions of Burgundy to theoretical sketches of where the English believed a fabled “Northwest Passage” may have been. However, the most surprising aspect of these maps are their prices; a common price for any particular item could end up costing $150000 here! Although Jennings jocundly suggests it is the price that has destroyed the hobby of map-collecting, he sheds light on the decline of communities such as this in our age of geographic iliteracy. With internet connection, the “special knowledge the dealers had” (Jennings, 91) is not anything special at all, claims the dealer himself, Cohen. It is not necessarily the lucrativity of the trade that has decreased, but simply the amount of those willing to fork out thousands for cartographic gems. However, many people are still simply dying to own rare and significant maps, as seen in Jenning’s Smiley example. After cutting out and theiving ancient historical maps in Yale’s library, Smiley was carried away, owing millions of dollars in stolen map sales. This crime does not come as much of a surprise in a market such as maps, as “[they] have been a luxury item ever since the Renaissance,” (Jennings, 98) causing those wealthy and interested enough willing to chip tooth and nail for a sizeable collection. Indeed, the shrink of the community has only lessened competitive nature and bidding. Maps are to many a sign of education and worldliness, and remain through generations. Despite this culture, the collector Ian Harvey fears “the hoby will decline once [his] generation is gone” (Jennings, 104). However, Jennings went ahead and bought his first antique in London, perhaps hoping to further extend the beauty of the trade, at least by a little.
So what did I think of the book? Well, it was the most enjoyable of the summer. However I really did not feel as if Jennings had much of a point in writing this, besides to simply ramble on about maps. Don’t get me wrong, I love maps, and listening to anyone speak about them in whatever context is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, but I didn’t see or experience any progression or connection between any of his points or anecdotes. I definitely gained an excellent base of knowledge on maps and discovered some geographical quirks I never knew of beforehand, such as the Billington Sea. Ken Jennings’s writing was, while entertaining, the slightest bit obnoxious and somewhat self-absorbed, although I suppose that’s expected in a Jeopardy champion. All in all, it was a pleasant summer read, and I absolutely loved the emphasis on geography’s beauty and the world of excitement it opened up for me, and I’m glad I got a chance to read it.

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3 thoughts on “Audrey’s Chapter 5 Summary and Review

  1. Hi Audrey I really liked your blog. I think it’s really cool how you lived on another continent most of us haven’t even been to! I also think its really cool how you can speak spanish fluently! Good Work!

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  2. Hello Audrey! I just wanted to start out saying how amazing it is that you’ve lived and visited such culturally diverse places, those must have been great experiences! I have to agree with you in that chapter five was quite interesting because I love the idea of old maps and how even though most of them are wrong, they have a story behind them and the maps are each to their own. I can also relate to you on the book talking too much about maps, but I think with chapters like the one about geocaching and the one that discussed the GeoBee were in between as break chapters, and that helped me get through it.

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  3. Thought your post was spot on, absolutely phenomenal and really took me into the chapter you reviewed, it gave me different ideas and perspectives about the subject from the first time I read it. Very interesting, informational, and well structured making it easy to read as well as comprehensible. Also thought it was very COOL being from Austria all the way to Clapton, Africa, partly making me very jealous and fond of your adventures. From being able to experience the cultures that took place there and participate them too. I must say, “Thank you for sharing your vast background with me and bringing me into your life!”

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