Adventure is just bad planning… Roald Amundsen


An empire of ice : Scott, Shackleton, and the heroic age of Antarctic science Edward J. Larson New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2011 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xiv, 326 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 295-315) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Discovery and explorations of the South Pole by Capt. Roald Amundsen and crew, 1910-11: A photograph of another of the expedition's camps on the way to pole

Discovery and explorations of the South Pole by Capt. Roald Amundsen and crew, 1910-11: A photograph of another of the expedition’s camps on the way to pole

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.

Photograph show expedition members Capt. Lawrence Oates, Lt. Henry Robertson Bowers, Capt. Robert F. Scott, Dr. Edward A. Wilson, and P.O. Edgar Evans on skis, towing a sled of provisions.

Photograph show expedition members Capt. Lawrence Oates, Lt. Henry Robertson Bowers, Capt. Robert F. Scott, Dr. Edward A. Wilson,  on skis, towing a sled of provisions.

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.

Photograph shows crew member with dog team hitched together sitting among ice floe; in the far background the Endurace is stuck.

Photograph shows crew member with dog team hitched together sitting among ice floe; in the far background the Endurace is stuck.

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.

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