Edward J. Larson

Global Perspectives Guest Speaker

Pepperdine University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Edward Larson’s latest book was published in May 2011, An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science. Larson places 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 in this terrific new history, much enlivened by his own Antarctic travels.

Larson writes in the book’s preface: “Conducting scientific research in Antarctica has always required collaboration, and this is true for my study of its history as well. This book is the direct product of my participation in the National Science Foundation's 2003-4 Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Always traveling with others, and frequently in the company of experts, through this program I saw much of what the early explorers saw, from Ross Island and the Great Ice Barrier to Beardmore Glacier and the South Pole. On December 18, 2003, exactly one hundred years after Scott, Edgar Evans, and William Lashly became the first humans to enter an Antarctic dry valley, I retraced their steps through Taylor Valley with the longtime manager of its research camp, Rae Spain. A few weeks later, I camped near Shackleton's winter quarters at Cape Royds with David Ainley, who has studied the cape's Adelie penguins for years. Both Spain and Ainley know the region's human history. Such experiences made this book possible. "

Larson was born in Mansfield, Ohio, graduated from Williams College, received his law degree from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In 2004, Larson received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Ohio State University. He held the Fulbright Program's John Adams Chair in American Studies in 2000-01 and participated in the National Science Foundation's 2003-04 Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Larson has authored or co-authored nearly a dozen books, including his 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Summer for the Gods, and Evolution’s Workshop, his account of the history of science and exploration of the Galápagos Islands. His articles have appeared in Nature, Scientific American, Atlantic Monthly, The Nation, American History, Time, and various academic history and law journals.

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