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About the Author

• B.A. in English from Marshall University 1974.
• Undergraduate architectural design courses @ West Valley College, Saratoga CA 1986-1989
• Continuing education (AIA accredited courses) in building energy efficiency.

Websites: “David Hirzel, Wordwright” (blog) “Antarctic Discovery” (blog) “David Hirzel Building Design” (business website) “When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision-Making Lessons from the Antarctic” (with Brad Borkan, author website)

• Sailor on Ice: Tom Crean with Scott in the Antarctic 1910-1913. Terra Nova Press, Pacifica CA 2011
• “Tom Crean: Sailor on Ice” podcast audiodrama Episodes One and Two (of ten, covering the sixteen years of his Antarctic explorations) now available online at: “Sea Sonnets” poetry chapbook October 2009
• Technical articles relating to building energy efficiency in San Francisco Bay Area newspapers
• Short story “Lemon’s First Morning” in Sand Hill Review Spring 2010
• Numerous poetry publications in US literary journals 1983-2011
• One-act plays “Francis and Sophy” and “Candle, Rose” produced at Dominican University (San Rafael CA) Fringe Festival Fall 2010 and Spring 2011. “Chance Encounter” accepted for production Spring 2012/

• “Maritime History of Coastal San Mateo County,” Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, Montara CA April 2005; Pacifica Historical Society March 21, 2010
• “Living History in Maritime Heritage Parks: An Overview of Possibilities,” Eighth Maritime Heritage Conference, San Diego CA October 2007
• “Tom Crean: Sailor on Ice,” for Klebingat Lecture Series, J.P. Shaw Maritime Library San Francisco, May 8, 2010
• “Sailors on Ice: Leaders and Followers,” California Maritime Academy, Vallejo CA, December 15, 2011

Public Service:
• Volunteer General Coordinator of the Living History Docent Program at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park since 2005, member since 1996. George B. Hartzong Jr. Award (National Park Service). Visit our website at
• Co-chair Steering Committee for the CWC/San Mateo County Fair Fine Arts Stage June 11-19, 2011
• City of Pacifica CA Green Building Ordinance Citizen Task Force

Society memberships include:
• National Maritime Historical Society
• Hakluyt Society
• Tall Ships America (formerly American Sail Training Association)

I have by avocation made a lifelong study of the first-person and other accounts of the “heroic age” of Antarctic exploration, starting with Lansing’s Shackleton’s Valiant Voyage in 1961. It wasn’t until 1994 that I noticed that Tom Crean’s name came up in many of them, and in the most interesting of circumstances. Since no book had at that time been written about him, it seemed appropriate to begin one.

In an effort to give a more intimate realism to the writing, I joined the topsail demonstration crew and the Living History program at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in 1997. In that capacity I began a second career as lecturer and maritime historian. I assumed leadership of the Living History program in 2005, and since then have more than doubled its size and been nominated by the National Park Service for the prestigious 2007 George Hartzog Award for volunteer service. I have spent time as a volunteer crewman on the tall ships Surprise (of the movie Master and Commander fame) and the Irving Johnson, as well as longer cruises onboard the Robert C. Seamans and the Bounty.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Nelly Turley permalink
    April 11, 2010 8:35 am

    I really enjoyed meeting you this past weekend. Thank you for putting on such a great event. I hope to be out to the Hyde Street Pier more before I go down to school.


  2. May 30, 2010 9:45 pm

    Your book’s story sounds fascinating and interesting historically. I am impressed with all the research time and experience you’ve gathered for it.

  3. Eva Bender permalink
    March 18, 2011 11:47 pm

    Hello David,

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your book of poetry, “Sea Sonnets,” a copy of which you sent to my father, Robert Bruce Bender, particularly the poem, “A Dory,” which I think is a gorgeous piece.
    I would love to meet you and hear more about your work. From reading your blog and poetry, it seems we have many common maritime interests. Your rich knowledge of history and lovely prose are very inspiring!!!

    Eva B

  4. May 27, 2013 3:18 pm

    Hi Mr. Hirzel:
    On Saturday, September 21 there will be an event called 100 Authors for Literacy, held at King Center in San Mateo. Your voice and books added to the event will make the universe hum. Please join us.

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