Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
How did you feel when you were a kid and you released a helium balloon and watched go away over the horizon? Wilkinson captures that same odd, other-worldly sensation of wonder in this haunting, beautifully written mystery story. This is the tale of a driven arctic explorer, S.A. Andree, who believed he could reach the North Pole by hot air balloon. The story of his adventures and misadventures on the ice is also the story of the last chapter of the most romantic era of the West. In school, they called it The Age of Exploration, the strivings of a few reckless daredevils to see the parts of the globe that, just 150 years ago, were still unmapped, unseen, and unknown. Wilkinson does that thing only the best artists can: makes you see your own world again, as if for the first time.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a perfectly fine book - well written and dealing with an interesting and unexpected aspect of polar exploration. If it is your first foray into the history of arctic exploration, you are likely to enjoy it more than someone who has already looked into the substantial literature that is already out there. Or if you are simply interested in all things arctic, you will likely find something to appreciate.

Still, I would agree with some of the other reviewers that, in the the end, you have a sense that the basic source material was insufficient to fill a book on the Andree expedition. There are substantial sections dealing with the Greely expedition and Nansen, neither of which have much of a direct relation to the Andree story. In the case of Greely, the link appears to be his public statement of skepticism about Andree's balloon idea. Not much else, but we still get a rather lengthy account of the well-known Greely story. I enjoyed the book and learned a few things about balloons and about the arctic, but I cannot praise it as highly as some others have done.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book was well written and fast-paced. The reader should be aware that much of the book is spent on framing the dramatic era of arctic exploration and the personalities and adventures or mis-adventures of those involved. The fact that many years afterwards journals and undeveloped film were recovered along with the remains of Andree and his party allow us to know far more about the fate of the expedition than might otherwise be known beyond their fateful departure. I appreciated that the author refrained from filling out the tale with his own speculations and clearly indicated those places where he was venturing an opinion. The survivng photos were intriguing and my chief disappointment with the book was that the photos were not reproduced full-page and glossy, instead they are sprinkled throughout the book in very small scale. Over-all, recommended winter reading.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Ice Balloon is set to join the ranks of classic Polar adventure books. Alec Wilkinson's prose is perfectly suited to the subject and is a wonderfully detailed, utterly compelling and exhilarating account of S.A. Andree's ill fated expedition. The heroes of this dramatic book were neither professional explorers or possessed military backgrounds, but during the Heroic Age of Arctic exploration, were ambitious and courageous enough to trust in science and attempt to reach the North Pole by hydrogen balloon. This fascinating book touches the explorer in all of us.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
]My grandpas cousin Nils Strindberg was on the balloon. I have also been a hot air ballon pilot for 20 years. That is the reason why I bought the book. I also have the original book from the expedition. And that book now has got a good company in the shelf. IMHO the book don't reveals any new information about that expedition. But it is fascinating to read the authors thouhts about it. Of course I was interested in Strindberg because it is family. My niece did a special paper in school about the life of Nils Stridberg before the expedition and how the family coped after his disappereance Nils father Oscar called Occa newer stop to mourn an wrote a poem to his lost son on his birthdays. The book is also a very good compilation of other expeditions to the artic and the age of Arctic expeditions in the backlight of the Andrée expedition. I recommend the book highly. anders wasen Strindberg's StarLetters from the Andree Party. The Balloon Expedition to the Pole - An Account of the Start by Andree's Fellow - Voyager Nils Strindberg - Letters Relating to the Expedition from Strindberg's Father.With the Eagle on the Pole : Andrees Polar Expedition in 1897 : The Complete Record of His 1897 Polar Balloon Flight (Med Ornen Mot Pole : Andrees Polarexpedition AR 1897) ** Swedish Edition **With the Eagle on the Pole : Andrees Polar Expedition in 1897 : The Complete Record of His 1897 Polar Balloon Flight (Med Ornen Mot Pole : Andrees Polarexpedition AR 1897) ** Swedish Edition **][[ASIN:0436505029 The Flight of the Eagle
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
An 1897 attempt by the Swedish aeronaut Andrée to fly across the top of the world by balloon is the basis of Wilkinson's highly engaging account of Arctic exploration. He notes that between 1496 and 1868 there were some 135 expeditions to the Arctic but, understandably, he chooses to focus on only the most important. While artfully relating these expeditions he also delves into such diverse topics as the nature of Arctic ice. Additionally, Wilkinson philosophizes on why men were drawn to the pole in the first place, since the path there, he notes wryly, had but two ends: "arrival or death." Andrée's story is a significant part of the narrative and Wilkinson handles this material adroitly, and thankfully does not waste the reader's time by speculating on the unknowable. If I can find any fault it's that Wilkinson takes Andrée, whose mission to the pole was over the moment it began, a little too seriously. That said, I'm very happy I bought The Ice Balloon.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Ice Balloon is an amazing book. Totally gripping, full of adventure and a great read. I can't get enough on Shackleton and it's great to have a new hero to read about! I loved it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Andree and his team's attempt to reach the North Pole by balloon is one of the most fascinating and too often dismissed or even forgotten episodes of polar history. In "The Ice Balloon", Alec Wilkinson does Andree justice by digging deeper into the thoughtful motivations and pragmatic care Andree placed behind his plan, and the astounding courage Andree and his crew mates demonstrated both before and during their expedition. This book is a definitive story about the expedition, its main characters, its historical context, and its dramatic outcome. The author devotes what seems like every other chapter of the book to telling the story of other famous and often ill-fated expeditions in the Arctic. While this does lengthen the book and breaks the flow of Andree's own story, it does gives the reader a good sense of what earlier explorers had endured to survive the Arctic, and of what Andree and his team would have been aware of before their launch. I have a few specific criticisms about the book, which are probably more the publisher's fault than the author's: 1) The only map in the book is an illegible one showing the entire Arctic. There is no map of the expedition itself. Any book on an expedition really needs a good map, and a good one can be made of Andree's journey. 2) Not enough is said about the amazing recovery of pictures from Andree's expedition, how they were preserved and processed, and the tremendous impact they had on the public, historians, and other explorers who had wondered for so many years about the fate of Andree's expedition. In my view, the recovered pictures are really the tell-all climax of the Andree story, or at least one of them. Unfortunately, this account does not emphasize this point; 3) The few pictures that are shown have no captions next to them (captions are all "hidden" on an unnumbered page near the end of the book). Plus, most of the captons have no date (or any information about their chronological order in the expedition). Some pictures referred to twice in the text are not even shown (the fork Andree made for Fraenkel for instance). All this said, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to aviation and polar exploration buffs alike.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I heard about this book on NPR[...] and wanted to read it. I was looking for a new sort of adventure/exploration book to read, having exhausted all the books on extreme diving and high altitude climbing. I enjoyed the book and realize the meanderings are to expand on a story that otherwise would have been quite short. I enjoyed these and they've encouraged me to want to read other books on the arctic. I find the digressions extremely interesting, particularly since this helps the reader speculate on what the Andree party might have experienced. The book is still not terribly long, and I would have liked to know more about the psychology of the men, like even more detail on Frænkel and Strindberg - perhaps even greater anecdotes from their journals - and I would have enjoyed a lengthier speculation on the inherent flaws in the plan, both technologically and emotionally. For example, why did they go without any arctic training? Why did he rely so heavily on steering ropes that were so easily damaged? I would definitely recommend this book to others. Also, this book has the most beautiful and eerie cover I've ever seen!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The Ice Balloon tells the story of S.A. Andrée and his attempt to cross the North Pole in a balloon in 1897. The subtitle, the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration, is a bit too ambitious for this volume and the examples chosen by Wilkinson do not, in my opinion, do much to illuminate Andrée's story.

For more than 25 years ago, after watching the film The Flight of the Eagle, I have longed to learn more about the ill-fated polar balloon flight of S.A. Andrée. On that topic, Wilkinson does an admirable job. Andrée is mostly overlooked as a quirky footnote in most good histories of polar exploration. Wilkinson demonstrates that Andrée was not a kook, but a man with a singular passion to seriously pioneer air travel with balloons. With the hindsight of history, we may scoff at how anyone could come up with such a ludicrous idea, but Wilkinson demonstrates how it was looked upon as a serious venture at the time. We get an intimate look into his life and one of his two companions, Nils Strindberg. Wilkinson does a great service to bring together sources, both obscure and long out of print, that puts the adventure of the ice balloon into proper historical context.

My one quibble with Wilkinson is in the choices he uses for the Heroic Age parts of the book. As an overview of the age, the expedition selections--Greely, Nansen, and a survivor of Hall/Polaris--are neither comprehensive enough to encompass a discussion of an "age" nor do they add much if any insight into Andrée's quest. Those sections, it seems to me are intended for readers almost completely unfamiliar with the history of polar exploration. Although the book is short, I believe it would have been more effective if it had been shorter.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed


The Worst Journey in the World (Penguin Classics)
The Worst Journey in the World (Penguin Classics) by Caroline Alexander (Paperback - February 28, 2006)
$14.53
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.