The Ice Balloon by Alec Wilkinson audiobook

The Ice Balloon: S. A. Andrée and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration

By Alec Wilkinson
Read by John Pruden

Blackstone Publishing, Blackstone Publishing 9780307594808

Unabridged

Format: Library CD (In Stock)
  • ISBN: 9781455166619

  • ISBN: 9781455166602

  • ISBN: 9781455166626

  • ISBN: 9781455166640

Runtime: 7.32 Hours
Category: Nonfiction
Audience: Adult
Language: English

Summary

Summary

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2012

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2012: Nonfiction

A New York Times Editor’s Choice

In this grand and astonishing account, 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—but 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 US 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 loved him, and the two men who accompanied 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, which were 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.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Alec Wilkinson’s writing is so flawless and engaging that I’d read him on a packed subway at rush hour.” Sebastian Junger, award-winning author of The Perfect Storm and War
“Wilkinson…writes with insight and flair, artfully interleaving Andrée’s story with a brief history of Arctic exploration…[His] prose style suits the spare polar landscape, making his occasional poetic touches even more effective…And Wilkinson doesn’t get bogged down in too much detail. He understands that the value of polar stories isn’t to be found in guy ropes and provisions. It lies elsewhere, in our endless love of discovery and the drama of being human.” New York Times Book Review
“Alex Wilkinson takes his place in the first rank of literary journalists…One is reminded of Naipaul, Mailer, and Agee.” Philip Gourevitch, Philadelphia Inquirer
“Fabulous…Readers meet ‘a parade of fanatics’ who attempt to reach the Pole, discover what is there, and return alive.” Boston Globe
“[A] gripping account of what has been called the heroic age of Arctic exploration.” Seattle Times
“[Wilkinson’s] superb storytelling skills shine on every page. The descriptions that Andrée and his expedition mates wrote about the harsh but stunning Arctic landscape and the slow, agonizing march to their inevitable deaths make for riveting armchair reading.” Minneapolis StarTribune
“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…[A] rare work of nonfiction whose sublimely understated writing rivals the inherent drama of the subject matter.” Toronto Star
“Once in a while you come across a book that so fully transfixes your imaginative gaze it ceases to become a book but simply a story.” Daily Beast
“Wilkinson’s anecdotal narrative is captivating, and he deftly conjures images of forbidding ice-white landscapes. A portrait not only of a man, but of an age, the book is packed with technological, geographic, cultural, and scientific tidbits…A thrilling account of a remarkable man.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A writer known for discerning portraiture, Wilkinson here probes the personality of Swedish explorer Salomon Andrée, who, along with two companions, disappeared in an 1897 attempt to discover the North Pole by balloon…[A] fine addition to the annals of polar exploration.” Booklist (starred review)
“Entertaining and extremely well-written, this captivating story about an obscure Arctic expedition is an essential purchase for all avid readers of exploration and polar literature. Highly recommended.” Library Journal (starred review)
“Entertaining…What makes this more than another adventure story is Wilkinson’s exploration of mankind’s compulsion to reach the extreme points of the Earth, despite all the absurd and obvious risks.” Amazon.com editorial review
“Wilkinson, ever elegant and thorough, fleshes out his account by delineating the previous expeditions of Greely and Nansen in order to get at the motivations in the minds of this ‘parade of fanatics heading for the deep places’…Beautifully focused and controlled.”  Kirkus Reviews

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Alec Wilkinson

Author Bio: Alec Wilkinson

Alec Wilkinson began writing for the New Yorker in 1980. Before that he was a policeman in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, and before that 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 the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He lives with his wife and son in New York City.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : CD, Library CD, MP3 CD, Playaway
Category: Nonfiction
Runtime: 7.32
Audience: Adult
Language: English