From Kirkus Reviews
A well-written tale of two unlucky polar explorers. While undertaking archaeological research in the Spitsbergen archipelago, 600 miles below the North Pole, Capelotti (Social Sciences/ Penn. State Univ., Abington) worked with artifacts left behind by the Swedish explorer Salomon August Andre and the American journalist Walter Wellman. Capelottis book falls into two roughly equal parts; the first treats the failed attempts by first Andre and then Wellman to reach the North Pole by airship, and the second examines the material remains of their expeditions. The first part is the more interesting for general readers, especially because the principals seemed strangely unaware that they were doomed to failure from the outset. Andre, whom history has remembered unkindly as either a lunatic or an idiot, attempted his polar feat in an airship that, though it needed to stay aloft for a month, would not hold its hydrogen gas for more than a few days. The craft disappeared, taking Andre and two crewmen with it. Their remains have never been recovered, although film from their aerial photographs was later found and processed. Wellman, a Chicago-based journalist and incessant self-promoter, participated in the search for Andres lost ship, and he took up the challenge in three failed airborne expeditions; a rival Chicago paper proclaimed the last a voyage which for foolhardiness exceeds anything in the history of human recklessness. All this is but a footnote in the history of exploration, but Capelloti tells it well. The second portion of his narrative, which will likely interest only archaeology buffs, looks in close detail (One cross beam steel tube 1 inch in diameter remains attached to two side frame members, spacing them apart by a width of 30 inches along the inner edge of the frame and 34.25 inches along the outer edge) at the detritus Andre and Wellman left behind. All in all, a nice job of historical reconstruction. (31 b&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
A brilliant and absorbing reconstruction of two polar expeditions. Dr. Capelotti's fascinating book lifts the veil covering the obsessions of explorers. -- Alan Gurney, author of Below the Convergence
It's the weirdness of these early airships and some of the people promoting them, especially in unforgiving world of the Arctic, that makes Dr. Capelotti's book a 'must' for anyone interested in aviation history or in polar exploration. The Author deftly combines archaeological and historical sources in a fresh and convincing way to tell his story. -- Richard A. Gould, Brown University