Robert G. Bartholomew, 1927-2017

I’ve belatedly heard the news that Robert G. Bartholomew died last April in Edinburgh at the age of 90. Robert and his older brothers John and Peter, who died in 2008 and 1987, respectively, were the last of six generations of Bartholomews working for the eponymous family mapmaking firm, John Bartholomew and Son, that was, among other things, responsible for the Times series of atlases before being subsumed into the HarperCollins publishing empire. Robert served as production manager, John as director and Peter as chairman. See the NLS’s Bartholomew Archive and the family’s website for more on the firm’s and the family’s history. [WMS]

New Editions of Two Smaller Times Atlases (One Very Small Indeed)

Today marks the U.K. publication of two atlases in the Times atlas range: the eighth edition of the Times Reference Atlas of the World and the seventh edition of the Times Mini Atlas of the World.

The Reference is right in the middle of the Times atlas range: it’s inexpensive (£30 list, compared to £150 for the Comprehensive, £90 for the Concise and £50 for the Universal) and presumably a bit less unwieldy. The Mini, on the other hand, is positively dainty: at 15.1 × 10.6 cm, it’s smaller than a mass-market paperback! (Obviously the covers above are not to scale; see the somewhat-out-of-date comparison chart for the various atlas sizes.)

According to Amazon, both are available in Canada next month, and in the U.S. in April 2018. (If for some reason you cannot wait, here are direct links to the U.K. store: ReferenceMini.)

New Edition of Times Concise Atlas Now Out

times-concise-13thThe 13th edition of the The Times Concise Atlas of the World came out last week. The HarperCollins listing sets out the updates and changes from the previous edition (including changing “Czech Republic” to “Czechia,” argh). The Concise is the second-largest of the Times world atlases and slots between the Comprehensive and the Universal in terms of physical size, page count, number of maps and place names. Here’s a handy chart showing the differences between the various Times atlases. [Collins Maps]

Related: Map Books of 2016.

Hubris and the Times Comprehensive Atlas

When the publishers of the Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World announced that the newly released 13th edition showed that Greenland’s ice sheet had shrunk by 15 percent, climate scientists went ballistic. While Greenland’s ice is retreating, it’s not nearly by that much, and this is just the sort of error that encourages climate-change denialists.

How did Collins Geo allow this to happen? This is the question Mark Monmonier explores in a piece on the New Scientist website. Monmonier, the author of How to Lie with Maps and many other books, argues that hubris was behind the mistake: that the towering reputation of the Times Atlases led to overconfidence.

An explanation lies partly in Collins Geo’s apparent decision to produce the map in house. If that was the case, the firm might have avoided its embarrassment with the obvious quality-assurance step of sending page proofs to carefully chosen experts. Appropriate scientists seldom decline invitations to serve as reviewers. […]

It seems likely there was a belief that external review was unnecessary. Moreover, it seems that none of the publisher’s marketing mavens compared their provocative God’s-eye view with competing treatments on readily accessible scientific websites or Google Earth.

Hubris is not too strong a word to explain HarperCollins’s predicament. A press release promising “concrete evidence of how climate change is altering the face of the planet forever” invites critical scrutiny by mainstream climate scientists as well as the self-proclaimed sceptics who are ever eager to pounce on overreaching pronouncements by the former. In Atlasgate, the pro-warming community, which outnumbers naysayers by perhaps 50 to 1, wasted no time in trashing the HarperCollins map.

Previously: Map Books for Fall 2011.