- 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)
An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science Hardcover – 3 Jun 2011
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"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
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).Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.