The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson

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The fact that Wilkinson backs the idea that the three men met relatively prosaic deaths might seem undramatic.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The story of the only person to attempt to reach the North Pole by balloon, and the golden age of Polar Exploration. In August 1930, a Norwegian sloop, sailing in the Arctic Ocean, stopped at a remote island, where its crew members foudn a book, together with a boathook stamped 'Andree's Pol. Exp 1896'. Not far from the boat was a body leaning against a rock, with its frozen legs extended. They carefully opened the jacket the corpse was wearing. When they saw a large monogram 'A', they knew who they were looking at: S. A. Andree, the Swede who, in 1897, set off to discover the North Pole, one of the last unmapped places on earth. The Ice Balloon is the story of the heroic age of polar exploration, and the dream of conquering one of the most inhumane landscapes on earth. In this golden age of discovery, Andree's ambition was the most original and remarkable, with many comparing him to Columbus for novelty and daring. For, of the thousand or so people who had gone looking for the Pole, at least seven hundred and fifty of whom had died, only Andree used a balloon.
 

About Alec Wilkinson

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Alec Wilkinson began writing for "The New Yorker "in 1980. Before that he was a policeman in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and before that he was a rock-and-roll musician. He has published nine other books--two memoirs, two collections of essays, three biographical portraits, and two pieces of reporting--most of which first appeared in "The New Yorker. "His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lyndhurst Prize, and a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives with his wife and son in New York City.
 
Published February 1, 2012 by Fourth Estate. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Action & Adventure, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Ice Balloon
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Robin McKie on Mar 30 2013

The fact that Wilkinson backs the idea that the three men met relatively prosaic deaths might seem undramatic.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on Feb 04 2012

Wilkinson gives us not only an exhilarating account of Swedish engineer S.A. Andrée’s ill-fated expedition, he offers a finely nuanced psychological portrait of a unique race of men—the Victorian-era Arctic explorers—and the age that produced them.

Read Full Review of The Ice Balloon | See more reviews from Toronto Star

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