To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration

To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration

In the spirit of bestselling adventure narratives In the Kingdom of Ice, In the Heart of the Sea, and The Lost City of Z, Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Edward J. Larson's To the Edges of the Earth brings to life the climax of the age of exploration: in the year 1909 expeditions to the Arctic, Antarctica, and Himalaya pushed human accomplishment to the extremes and set records for altitude and the farthest north and south.

In 1909, three daring expeditions pushed to the edges of the globe, bringing within reach, for the first time, a complete accounting of all the earth’s surface. In January, Douglas Mawson, as part of Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition to Antarctica, became the first man to reach the South Magnetic Pole. Soon after, Shackleton himself set a new farthest south record in pursuit of the Geographic South Pole. In April, American Robert Peary, with Matthew Henson, claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole. And in the Himalayas—the so-called "Third Pole," the pole of altitude— a team led by legendary mountaineer and dashing Italian Prince Luigi Amedeo, the Duke of Abruzzi, reached 24,600 feet, setting a world altitude record that would stand for a generation.

Drawing on both archival and on-the-ground research (he lived for two weeks in Shackleton's Antarctic hut), Larson interweaves the stories of these three expeditions into one dazzling adventure narrative that illuminates the spirit of the age.

Title:To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration
ISBN:9780062564474
Format Type:

About Edward J. Larson

Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and legal scholar. He is university professor of history and holds the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University. He was formerly Herman E. Talmadge Chair of Law and Richard B. Russell Professor of American History at the University of Georgia.


    To the Edges of the Earth: 1909, the Race for the Three Poles, and the Climax of the Age of Exploration Reviews

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    This was a well-written, thoroughly researched book about polar exploration. The author focused on the successful trips to the north and south poles, as well as the “third pole” of the highest mou...

  • Nancy

    One hundred years ago the world was reeling from WWI. Every value and belief once the foundation of civilization was called into question by the war.But before the 'War to End All Wars' didn't end war...

  • Carlos

    Nice narrative of these three bigwigs in exploration of the early 20th century, it was a good effort to put all these three narratives in perspective regarding the times their respective countries wer...

  • Pamela

    Historically Credible . . . Compellingly Readable . . . Fascinating Perspective with Relevant Sub-Topics . . . Well Written with an alluring Contemporary Voice . . . Seemingly Thoroughly Researched. I...

  • Holly

    A fine cultural history by Larson (I also enjoyed his earlier book about the Scopes Trial, Summer for the Gods). I liked the rotating triple foci - Arctic-North Pole, Antarctica-South Pole, and "top o...

  • Joe Jones

    I am not sure if the men in this book were extraordinarily brave or just a bit crazy. It probably is a bit of both. The conditions they experienced on their quests to be the first to the poles was min...

  • John

    I enjoy books that that make me wonder what drives people to do things like this. This experience had to be miserable and to want to do it again makes me wonder what drives that thought process. I do ...

  • Rachel

    I liked it. At least in an interesting and horrifying way. I can safely say that this book completely convinced me to never even consider Polar explorations. Too cold and brutal by far.As for the book...

  • Sally Ann Moyer

    Interesting story of how Peary and Henson made it to the North Pole (or did they really?) and other explorers reaching the South Pole and "altitude pole" in the same year. The story jumps around so mu...

  • Gary Detrick

    If it had been the first book I've read on polar exploration I would have given it 4 stars. Edward's blending of the stories read well with the intermingeling of the three expeditions. A very interest...