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The Ice Balloon: S. A. Andree and the Heroic…

The Ice Balloon: S. A. Andree and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration (utgåvan 2013)

av Alec Wilkinson (Författare)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
1705161,407 (3.41)9
Alec Wilkinson, medarbetare i The New Yorker, skildrar en fascinerande epok med äventyrare och över tusen upptäcksresanden som söker sig till det ogästvänliga arktiska landskapet. Med hjälp av Andréexpeditionens egna anteckningar, fotografier och samtida källor berättar han historien den ödesdigra polarfärden.… (mer)
Titel:The Ice Balloon: S. A. Andree and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration
Författare:Alec Wilkinson (Författare)
Info:Vintage (2013), 256 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek


The Ice Balloon: S. A. Andree and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration av Alec Wilkinson


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Visar 5 av 5
I acutally finished this ages ago but forgot to write a review. Ooops.

I thought I would be prepared for this. I have read plenty about people freezing to death on mountains, and I loved The Expedition so I assumed it would be fine reading this. It's about the same thing as The Expedition after all!

Yeah, I was wrong. It is about the same expedition, but it also gives a lot of context (that is not in The Expedition) about Arctic Exploration in general. Other expeditions, why it was so important, stuff like that, which was super-interesting, don't get me wrong. Kinda hard to keep up sometimes with all the names, dates and different expeditions, but still interesting.

So what am I hinting about? The starvation. People freezing to death is not pleasant, but people starving to death? That's disgusting. Reading about people so starved, so desperate, that they're literally eating their own boots? For some reason the boots stuck with me more than the cannibalism, because if I were dead and someone else was starving I would not get mad or haunt them if they ate me, but imagine being so hungry that you're biting into the leather of your boots! I cannot get over that.

So yeah, not the same as reading about mountaineering accidents. But still interesting, though not as much about Andrée as maybe I would have preferred. ( )
  upontheforemostship | Feb 22, 2023 |
The telling of this very interesting story left me disappointed. This may be due to the lack of significant primary source material about the actual adventure, or possibly the author's lackluster writing style.

In any case, the majority of this book does not concern the main character, but instead consists of digressions about other explorations which are tangentially related.

Although I think this is a very interesting story indeed, for some reason the author's account was not compelling. A mediocre telling of an exceptional adventure. ( )
  la2bkk | Feb 12, 2023 |
The polar regions of our planet are the harshest and most unforgiving places that man has visited. Even with modern equipment and clothing humans still face great challenges venturing into the area.

Imagine then how it was undertaking polar exploration in the Victorian age. The expedition equipment was very primitive, and in some cases dangerous, they did not have years of study and understanding of the human body in these conditions. Wilkinson has looked at the story of S A Andrée, a Swedish explorer who took of in a hydrogen filled balloon in 1897 with the aim of being the first man to go over the North Pole.

He has written this account based on the diaries of Andrée, and contemporary accounts of the time. He was a hero of his age when he departed, following in the footsteps of many explorers who tried and failed to make it there. The journey was not straightforward, as you would imagine, and of all the expeditions they were probably the wine who got the closest. After the balloon landed, they unpacked and set about trying to return across the ice.

This was a fascinating book in lots of ways, Andrée was a true gentlemen, and the description of the meals that they ate were almost unreal, for example champagne at one meal. The thing that I didn't like about the book was that there was too much material on other attempts and journeys in the Arctic. I understand to set the context, but it just felt like it was padded a little. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
I am a fan of books about the exploration of extreme environments (the poles, jungles, mountains, deserts, etc), so I had high hopes for this book. I wouldn't say that I disliked it - I just did not find it to be a real page turner.

The actual story of the balloon expedition (from its genesis to its execution) is fairly short. The book has a few other accounts of Arctic exploration that were helpful to gaining an understanding of the nature of such expeditions (and why Andree wanted to bypass land exploration in favor of air exploration), but they aren't totally relevant to this specific story. You do get a good sense of the dangers of the Arctic from those accounts. And (spoiler alert) since Andree's expedition failed, the tales from survivors of other expeditions can give you some sense of exactly how bad it was for Andree and his team.

The book is also an interesting look at some misconceptions about air travel when the concept was still in its infancy. The thought of traveling to the poles in a hot air balloon now is laughable to us, but some scientists from the era (though not all) thought it was possible using Andree's methods.

I think this is a decent book if you are an avid reader of books about Arctic exploration and want to supplement your reading. Otherwise, it is just OK. ( )
  slug9000 | Mar 20, 2015 |
This is the story of S.A. Andree and his attempt to reach the North Pole by balloon in 1897. It's the kind of tale that makes you wonder what exactly drives certain people. Knowing that many previous expeditions to the Arctic ended tragically, I don't know that a lot of people's reaction would be to want to try it with an experimental mode of transportation. One would think that fewer unknowns would be a better bet instead of more. But Andree obviously didn't think like that. Undaunted by the fact that it would require keeping the balloon aloft for longer than had ever been done before, that navigating a balloon against the wind was not an entirely proven concept, and that no one knew exactly how a balloon would perform in Arctic conditions, Andree found two other knuckleheads willing to hop into the basket with him and took off. The last thing he was heard to say was "What was that?" as the lines he was planning to use for control tore off from the balloon and were left behind.

As with many other explorers of the farthest reaches of the globe, Andree disappeared from view and truly disappeared until remains of his expedition were found 30 years later. Even then, it's a mystery exactly how the three men died. Their diaries don't provide clues, and their bodies aren't much help either. That aspect of the story is a little unsatisfying, although hardly unusual with polar exploration. Probably as a result of the relatively scarce data on what happened on the actual expedition, the book is padded out with tales of other Arctic endeavors by ship and sledge. I could have done without those parts, but I guess it provides some insight into what still remained to be explored, and what was at stake. Andree is a pretty well-developed presence, but his two companions remain mostly mysteries because they were younger and not as well-known before setting off (and hadn't caused as much controversy as Andree). With all stories like this, a reader has to resign him or herself to just not knowing everything or getting all the answers. ( )
1 rösta ursula | Apr 18, 2014 |
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Alec Wilkinson, medarbetare i The New Yorker, skildrar en fascinerande epok med äventyrare och över tusen upptäcksresanden som söker sig till det ogästvänliga arktiska landskapet. Med hjälp av Andréexpeditionens egna anteckningar, fotografier och samtida källor berättar han historien den ödesdigra polarfärden.

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