An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science

Nav:Home > Polar Regions > An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science

Press: Tantor Audio; Unabridged CD edition (June 22, 2011)
Author Name:Larson, Edward J.; Nelson, John Allen;


Published to coincide with the centenary of the first expeditions to reach the South Pole, An Empire of Ice presents a fascinating new take on Antarctic exploration. 
Retold with added information, it's the first book to place the famed voyages of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, his British rivals Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and others in a larger scientific, social, and geopolitical context.
Efficient, well prepared, and focused solely on the goal of getting to his destination and back, Amundsen has earned his place in history as the first to reach the South Pole.
Scott, meanwhile, has been reduced in the public mind to a dashing incompetent who stands for little more than relentless perseverance in the face of inevitable defeat.
An Empire of Ice offers a new perspective on the Antarctic expeditions of the early twentieth century by looking at the British efforts for what they actually were: massive scientific enterprises in which reaching the South Pole was but a spectacular sideshow.
By focusing on the larger purpose, Edward Larson deepens our appreciation of the explorers' achievements, shares little-known stories, and shows what the Heroic Age of Antarctic discovery was really about.

About the Author

Edward J. 
Larson is a professor of history and law at Pepperdine University and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion and several other books.John Allen Nelson's critically acclaimed roles on television's 24 and Vanished are among the highlights of his twenty-five-plus years as an actor, screenwriter, and film producer.
As a narrator, he won an AudioFile Earphones Award for his reading of Zoo Story by Thomas French.


Travel,Polar Regions,Antarctica,History,Arctic & Antarctica,World,Expeditions & Discoveries

 PDF Download And Online Read: An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science



Comment List (Total:14)

  •     Here I sit in my warm house under redwood trees brought low by a cold virus, reading about men who endured unimaginable privations in search of glory.
  •     Too much ice and empire and not enough interest. The growth of the British empire in cold climates - not the most thrilling tome I have ever read but interesting.
  •     Well, not the "ripping yarns" I thought it was going to be. Well researched and (very) detailed technical and scientific history of British research at the South pole.
  •     I knew beforehand that I would be reading about "technical" accounts regarding Antarctica "Heroic" exploration period. It's not that the author is not knowledgable, but extensive history about embryos or Darwinism wasn't what I was looking for.Every student of Antarctica's exploration knows that all British attemps at the South Pole was surrounded or pursued with extensive science programs. In fact, the gathering of data would save face if the true goal of the effort, standing at the South Pole, would fail. In that regard, Larson's account is a little too dry for my taste.However, I did learn a thing or two that wasn't covered in other Antarctica books, such as Uncle Bill Wilson first attempt at Cape Crozier in the Discovery days.I would definetly not recommend this book if it's the first one you pick up about Antarctica's Heroic Period. Read first "The worst journey in the world" by Cherry-Garrard, "The last place on earth" by Roland Hunford, "Race to the end" by Ross MacPhee or "The Coldest March" by Susan Solomon BEFORE picking up "An empire of ice" and ONLY if the how and why of science projects in Antarctica is highly valuable to you.
  •     Well researched and analyzed. Helps understand the dynamics of three great explorers and removes confusion over motives and objectives. This is a great read.
  •     Because Larson decided to divide the book into sections based on sciences (geology, geography, etc) we are faced by a continuing return to the beginnings of Antarctic exploration...
  •     I have read a number of books about polar exploration. Many focus on attempts to reach the geographic north or south pole.
  •     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...
  •     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.
  •     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.
  •     The Larson book is good, and I am enjoyed reading it. It provides interesting insights into the way European science and explorers interacted.
  •     This is a relatively short and well written but somewhat disappointing book. Larson appears to have 2 concerns in this book. The first is to provide a concise history of the scientific orientation of British Antarctic exploration prior to WWI. The second is to provide a more balanced view of Robert Scott as an explorer. Larson does a good job of explaining the general background of Victorian geographic exploration, pointing out its disparate motivations, including scientific curiosity, imperial rivalries, and some commercial interests. In the case of the Antarctic, the combination of scientific interests and national-imperial prestige appears to be particularly important. Larson does reasonably well in describing the scientific payoff from these expeditions, though planning and execution for some was affected by some tension between more professional British scientists and the more amateur tradition represented by the Royal Geographic Society.In the case of Scott, Larson shows that pursuing science was an important component of his expeditions. This is in marked contrast to his Norwegian rival Amundsen, who singlemindedly pursued getting to the geographic South Pole. Scott's motivations also included more prosaic career advancement, concerns about national prestige, and what might be called the Edwardian cult of manliness. Larson definitely shows that Scott was not the naive romantic bumbler of present popular impressions, though in crucial respects Amundsen was clearly more competent.Despite these positive features, I found this book somewhat disappointing. It is not up the standard of Larson's earlier books, particularly his very good book on the Scopes trial. The quality of writing is good but some of the chapters are a bit repetitious. His essential points about the nature of British scientific Antarctic exploration and Scott could have been made more concisely. This books reads like a long essay stretched out into a book.
  •     Numerous gripping accounts weave through this engrossing first-ever history of early South Pole science, the various -ologies researched in an alien land indeed (where week-long storms scour an ice sheet two miles thick, and the thermometer has plummeted to minus 129 degrees). Author Larson, for example, writes of how explorers Scott and Shackleton and their blizzard-suffering men observed the life cycle of the unique emperor penguin, discovered a retreating ice cap that fits with our view of global warming, and finally found fern fossils confirming Darwin's postulation that a connected polar continent likely existed to explain the presence of such fossils on other southern continents as well. That last major discovery occurred on Robert Scott's ill-fated South Pole journey, and poignant journal excerpts lace this retold drama. I wished for even more pictures. Two thumbs up!
  •     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.

Relation Books


Travel Writing,Pictorial,Europe,South America,Middle East,Africa,Polar Regions,Central America Book,。 OnlineBook 

OnlineBook @ 2018