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In memoriam: Harm de Blij

Oxford University Press is saddened to hear of the passing of Harm de Blij on Thursday, 27 March 2014. De Blij was a giant in geography and had an illustrious career as a teacher, researcher, writer, public speaker, and TV personality. He was passionate, and one of those people who brought out the best in those around him.

“I know that was certainly true for me,” noted Dan Kaveney, Executive Editor-Higher Education. “When I was with Harm I always felt like a better and more capable person than I am. I worked just a little bit harder and more carefully to live up to his standard, and feel very fortunate to have had him as a colleague and a friend.”

“Harm was one of the most upbeat misanthropes I have ever known, and I’m very glad that I did,” added Tim Bent, OUP’s Executive Trade Editor. “He was in my office once and spotted the Longerich biography of Heinrich Himmler on a shelf. De Blij said that he had been out walking with his father in the Hague one day in 1943 and that they had seen Himmler drive by in his staff car; Himmler apparently was visiting the former homes of deported Jews and picking out art to steal. Harm always knew how to lend personal and historical depth to his geography.”

Former OUP Editor Ben Keene remarked, “Harm was one of my favorite authors to work with at OUP and in fact the first that I managed on my own, many years ago. I learned so much from him and still remember our first lunch when he ordered steak with a glass of red wine and asked the waitress to hold the green beans.”

Harm de Blij was the John A. Hannah Professor of Geography at Michigan State University. He authored 30 books, including Why Geography Matters, The Power of Place, and Physical Geography.

Harm de Blij
1935 – 2014

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Image courtesy of deblij.net

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