Cultural geography, world regional geography

Professor Artimus Keiffer, Ph.D.,
Indiana University

An Amateur’s Guide to the Planet is an excellent reference and supplemental text for Introduction to Geography, Introduction to Human Geography, World Regional Geography and any survey courses that deal with crosscultural studies.

It is refreshing to have a book that describes ‘experiences’ and not just ‘events.’ The writing style is easy to follow and not packed with statistics and data.

Students enjoy the anecdotal material, and the maps and data tables help define many geographic concepts.

Since I am a field-oriented geographer, I like to use real-life experiences that make learning relevant as possible to students who may have not had access to global travel.

And, having been to several of the countries described in the text, I can add my own personal accounts that may or may not be the same as those experienced by the author.

It is very hard to bring culture into the classroom. An Amateur’s Guide to the Planet is certainly one helpful way to accomplish this.

ARTIMUS KEIFFER: Winner, Shellhammer Outstanding Educator Award “for exciting students to learn.” On advisory board for Geography: Annual Editions 99-00 and the Student Atlas of World Geography. Reviewed the new editions by DeBlij and also Jordan on Human and Cultural Geography.

Professor Mike Kukral, Ph.D.
Ohio Wesleyan University

Personally, as a budget traveller of the past two decades, I imagine that An Amateur’s Guide to the Planet will inspire, more than just inform, students to actually experience our great and bold world of people and lands.

Several of my students have read many chapters long before they were assigned. I doubt that happens very often in college.

Professor Allen R. Maxwell,
University of Alabama

The Borneo chapter conveys a great deal of what it is like to BE in the interior very well. The information on what it takes to be a good bush pilot is particularly good.

Professor Alison Jolly
Princeton University

The Madagascar chapter is great reading and great fun and full of splendid metaphors.

Mark Moran
Social studies teacher
Columbus-Maryville School, Chicago

Many insights on culture caught my eye:

  • the misuse of the expression ‘the Third World’
  • that adventure travelers, missionaries and anthropologists inevitably change the culture they are trying to help ‘preserve’
  • that we are the Third World when it comes to family
  • how people may romanticize their ancestral heritage

What have I learned from this book? Two insights stand out: that in the poorest country described–Burma–the author found the most radiant people. And that the Golden Mean exists somewhere between U.S. individuality and creativity and Japanese respect for the lives of others. These things I found provocative.

Paul Barstow
Social Studies School Service

Belliveau’s tortured trip on the 1:05 to Beijing is only one of the memorable odysseys recorded in this delightful work written in the best tradition of Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad. Informative and entertaining, the book can be read aloud or sampled for geography lessons, environmental studies, or vivid snapshots of unfamiliar (and often misunderstood) cultures.

Intercultural communication

Professor Mike Lopez
Cedarville College

Intercultural communication texts are notably dry. What I like about Amateur is that you model a process of entry, discovery and evaluation using many starting points. You go at the intercultural experience from underneath (day-to-day experience) and from above (consulting Shogun for a Cliff Notes version of the 2,000-year history of Japan).

Professor Bruce Dorries
Radford University

“My copy of An Amateur’s Guide delighted me — it has thousands of examples highlighted, and the margins contain hundreds of comments, notes and suggestions for how to use the content in class.”


Professor Howard Culbertson
Southern Nazarene University

I used An Amateur’s Guide as required supplementary reading in Cultural Anthropology. I used a more classical anthropology text which treated the various aspects of culture in a systematic fashion while An Amateur’s Guide provided the ‘color commentary.

I found that it enabled me to challenge students to look at cultural experiences with discerning eyes. For instance, at the beginning of the course, students seemed willing to absorb a systematic presentation of ideas from the other book without being able to inductively profit from the experiences described in An Amateur’s Guide.

By the end of the course the class was divided in their enthusiasm for the two books. Both appealed to different learning styles. So, perhaps I have found a good balance!

HOWARD CULBERTSON: Named faculty member of the year by Southern Nazarene University students. Prof. Culbertson spent 15 years overseas as a missionary and during his sabbatical last year was drafted back into a leadership capacity by Italian Nazarene churches.