August 28, 2011
BOOK OF THE WEEK: WEEK THIRTY-FIVE, 2011
Edward J. Larson, An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and The Heroic Age of Antarctic Science (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2011) ("When I tell friends that I'm writing a book about the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, they typically respond in one of two ways. Some say how much they admire Ernest Shackleton's leadership style, while others question Robert Scott's tactics in trying to reach the South Pole first. Both responses are telling. A century after their exploits, these two men are still widely known for their personal achievements, but their fame rests largely on how they dealt with adversity in their efforts to reach the geographical South Pole. That, most people assume, is why they went to Antarctica; much else about their expedition is forgotten." "This book is neither a paean to Shackleton's leadership nor a critique of Scott's choices. It is about what was central to British efforts in the Antarctic. In the era before World War I, when Antarctic exploration was largely a British project, that project was largely concerned with science." Id. at ix.).