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An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science Hardcover – 3 Jun 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (3 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300154089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300154085
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.7 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"An Empire of Ice reflects exhaustive digging and reaches well beyond the standard source materials... Larson provides enough fresh perspective that even devotees of polar literature will learn things."-Jennifer Kingson, New York Times Book Review -- Jennifer Kingson New York Times Book Review Awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2011 National Outdoor Book Awards -- National Outdoor Book Award Honorable Mention National Outdoor Book Foundation "A far more interesting and richer account than we have had thus far... Larson has written a fascinating book, one sure to force a rethinking of the Scott-Amundsen race as well as reconsiderations that will include science as a driving force in Antarctic and indeed polar exploration." -Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis, Science Magazine -- Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis Science Magazine "The author provides an undeniably exciting account without overpowering the reader with too much detail. Fans of these explorers, science heads, and armchair travelers will find this a worthwhile and thrilling read."-Mike Rogers, Library Journal -- Mike Rogers Library Journal "Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Larson sheds new light on the famous three-way race to the South Pole...A satisfying tale of adventure and exploration."-Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews "Larson succeeds in this approach to the popular subject of polar exploration by wrapping the science in plenty of dangerous drama to keep readers engaged."-Booklist Booklist "Empire of Ice is a new take on polar exploration of the early 20th century. It puts expeditions by Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton et al. into a wider scientific, social and geopolitical context."-Travel Book Seller Travel Book Seller "... [An] enlightening and entertaining new book, An Empire of Ice, seeks to rescue the exploits of Edwardian derring-do from the condescension of posterity by showing us how much more there was to what his subtitle refers to as the heroic age of Antarctic science."-Robert J.Mayhew, Times Higher Education -- Robert J. Mayhew Times Higher Education "In this fascinating book...Larson's intriguing accounts begin to reveal the bigger picture of early scientific research in Antarctica and its place in European geopolitics of the time."-Michael Bravo, New Scientist -- Michael Bravo New Scientist "This is a great and needed book, highly worth reading whether your Antarctic focus is history or science."-The Antarctican Society Newsletter The Antarctican Society Newsletter "Extremely well written and documented, An Empire of Ice is a gripping account that reads almost like a thriller."-J.D. Ives, Choice -- J.D. Ives Choice "An insightful, accessible, enlightening account of an age when exploration 'reflected the values of the Edwardian age: fitness and science mattered.'"-Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Edward J. Larson is University Professor of History and holds the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University. His numerous books include Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion, for which he received a Pulitzer Prize in History. Larson splits his time between Georgia and California.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well crafted, and very well written, this book makes for a most interesting read and certainly offers an original line of thought that should appeal to the most jaded consumer of "heroic age" literature. Taking each broad area of scientific interest and endeavour in turn, Professor Larson provides, chapter by chapter, an easily digestible summary of the successive activities and achievements of the Discovery, Nimrod and Terra Nova expeditions, which didn't prove too dry or challenging for this 'non-scientific' reviewer. At the same time, the author introduces an appropriate level of the 'human interest' and conveys something of the personalities of the main protagonists without overburdening the reader with familiar details and storylines.

Just as the narrative is finding its feet, however, there is a strange and rather superfluous interlude, involving a ten-page examination of the activities of David Livingstone in Africa. This appears to have been included to help establish the credentials of the Royal Geographical Society, as the sponsor of Scott's first expedition, but it seems rather out of place and unnecessarily lengthy. An editorial blue pencil might have improved this part of the book. Moreover, having embarked on this diversion, Professor Larson has displayed a startling lack of appreciation of African geography, in describing (on page 68) how the Victorian explorer travelled 'east' across the Dark Continent to Angola, before 'retracing his steps' and following the Zambesi 'west' to Mozambique... It is to be hoped that a future reprint will also correct the description of Apsley Cherry-Garrard's trek to Cape Crozier as his "Western (sic, as opposed to 'Winter') Journey" (page 209).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought this for my husband and he enjoyed all the interesting facts contained in the book. Good price well packaged.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a good quality nicely illustrated present for a friend overseas and he was over the moon with this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars 15 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dense and poorly mapped 13 July 2013
By Tim1965 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are looking for a work which depicts the great, tragic journeys of Scott, Shackleton, and Amundsen to find the South Pole -- look somewhere else. If you want a work which depicts, in minute detail, every single expedition made to the Antarctic by Scott, Shackleton, and others -- you will find it here. The problem is that the book contains exceptionally poor maps, and disturbingly few of those. Images, took, are almost lacking. Readers not intimately familiar with the Antarctic will find themselves quickly lost.

While the writing is passable and the level of factual detail extremely good, Larson's primary failing is in his ability to craft an interesting narrative. The prose is so dry that even someone very excited about the subject matter will find him or her self struggling to get through it. It makes it difficult to tell tragedy from success, and tedium from excitement.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite What I Expected 25 Sept. 2011
By A reader from California - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have always been fascinated by Antarctica, and was lucky enough to be able to visit there for three weeks some years ago, so I was looking forward to reading this book.

When I first read the reviews and blurbs, I thought the book was going to be an exploration of the leadership skills and styles of men like Scott and Shackleton. There was some of that, but mostly the book is an account of the scientific discoveries, told in excruciating detail.

Overall, their discoveries were interesting, but for me, reading 300 pages worth of the composition of icebergs vs. glaciers vs. ice caps vs. ice sheets, plus the difference between sandstone, basalt and other rocks, is a bit too much. My eyes started to glaze over.

The other problem, and this is not really Larson's fault, is that all the expeditions started to run together in my mind. They all had a hard time sledging, faced horrible weather conditions and ran out of food. It was difficult to tell them apart. I did not get a good sense of what the leaders did or did not do to impact the success or failure of each trip.

My recommendation is to read a book on Shackleton's Endurance mission, or his own book "South". Those will provide fascinating details about how the men survived, Shackleton's leadership style, etc., and are so much better than this book in invoking what these men endured from a personal standpoint. Unless you are a glaciologist or geologist, you will find this book very slow going, and in some cases, deadly dull.
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story by an amazing author! 13 Mar. 2014
By Roger Dean - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An amazing story, made even more so by the talent of the author. I had the pleasure of meeting him on a recent cruise to Antarctica, and that was what persuaded me to download the book ( while on the ship). I am so glad that I did.
5.0 out of 5 stars meticulous and interesting 13 Jan. 2015
By Susan from Colorado - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent discussions of broad ranging topics. Puts a fresh perspective on just about every chapter, placing the expeditions in the modern context of what was learned.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as Huntsford 16 July 2011
By specialK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Larson book is good, and I am enjoyed reading it. It provides interesting insights into the way European science and explorers interacted. In particular the contrast between the Geographical Society and the Philosophical Society. Having some experience with granting agencies and current state of science funding, this book provides nice historical background. The point of this book seems to be to present a slightly different point of view on the balance between finding the pole and science than that presented by Roland Huntsford in his books. The interested reader should compare this book to those, and go from there. The book isn't as compelling a read as the 'straight' explorer stories, but it is still good.
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