The Ice Balloon

The Ice Balloon

S.A. Andrée and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration

eBook - 2011
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Random House, Inc.
In this grand and astonishing tale, Alec Wilkinson brings us the story of S. A. Andrée, the visionary Swedish aeronaut who, in 1897, during the great age of Arctic endeavor, left to discover the North Pole by flying to it in a hydrogen balloon. Called by a British military officer “the most original and remarkable attempt ever made in Arctic exploration,” Andrée’s expedition was followed by nearly the entire world, and it made him an international legend.
 
The Ice Balloon begins in the late nineteenth century, when nations, compelled by vanity, commerce, and science, competed with one another for the greatest discoveries, and newspapers covered every journey. Wilkinson describes how in Andrée several contemporary themes intersected. He was the first modern explorer—the first to depart for the Arctic unencumbered by notions of the Romantic age, and the first to be equipped with the newest technologies. No explorer had ever left with more uncertainty regarding his fate, since none had ever flown over the horizon and into the forbidding region of ice.
 
In addition to portraying the period, The Ice Balloon gives us a brief history of the exploration of the northern polar regions, both myth and fact, including detailed versions of the two record-setting expeditions just prior to Andrée’s—one led by U.S. Army lieutenant Adolphus Greely from Ellesmere Island; the other by Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian explorer who initially sought to reach the pole by embedding his ship in the pack ice and drifting toward it with the current.
 
Woven throughout is Andrée’s own history, and how he came by his brave and singular idea. We also get to know Andrée’s family, the woman who loves him, and the two men who accompany him—Nils Strindberg, a cousin of the famous playwright, with a tender love affair of his own, and Knut Fraenkel, a willing and hearty young man.
 
Andrée’s flight and the journey, based on the expedition’s diaries and photographs, dramatically recovered thirty-three years after the balloon came down, along with Wilkinson’s research, provide a book filled with suspense and adventure, a haunting story of high ambition and courage, made tangible with the detail, beauty, and devastating conditions of traveling and dwelling in “the realm of Death,” as one Arctic explorer put it.

Baker & Taylor
Documents the dramatic 1897 flight of a visionary Swedish explorer who attempted to discover the North Pole in a hydrogen balloon, placing his story against a backdrop of period exploration and scientific discovery while describing the formidable environmental conditions that challenged his efforts.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011
ISBN: 9780307957696
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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BernieShe
May 06, 2012

Sounds boring? Isn't. If you're halfway interested in the late 19th/early 20th century, exploration in general, or the human heart (yes!), this is a great one. Fascinating, compelling.

t
tedrich2921
May 05, 2012

Interesting book. I've read quite a number of books by mountain climbers and artic explorers must be the same breed of person. Although I find the stories quite interesting, I just can't understand why someone would want to torture themselves like this. It's a wonderful look into the past and a pretty quick read. I give this book a B plus.

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