Prize news: ‘An Empire of Ice’ by Edward Larson is shortlisted for the 2012 Hessell-Tiltman award

An Empire of Ice

An Empire of Ice by Edward Larson

Edward Larson’s acclaimed book on exploration and antarctic science An Empire of Ice has been shortlisted for the coveted Hessell-Tiltman prize.

In a second literary prize coup, Edward Larson’s An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science has been shortlisted for this year’s £3,000 Hessell-Tiltman prize (the book was previously awarded an Honorable Mention for the 2011 National Outdoor Book Awards). The Hessell-Tiltman prize is awarded annually for a non-fiction book that shows high literary merit and covers historical periods up to and including the Second World War.

An Empire of Ice is a riveting account of the great expeditions of Antarctica’s Heroic Age, offering a new perspective by looking at them as successful scientific enterprises. Published to coincide with the centenary of the first expeditions to reach the South Pole, Larson’s book presents a fascinating new take on Antarctic exploration.

Retold with added information, An Empire of Ice is 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.

The winner will be announced on 17th April at the London Book Fair (view the full shortlist here).

An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science is available now from Yale University Press.

In Scott’s Race To The Pole, Science Beat Speed: Listen to Edward Larson on NPR

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