Monday, October 8, 2012

Book recommendation: The Ice Balloon

Slowly but steady the days become shorter, the trees lose their leaves and you start to wonder where you left your gloves. The perfect time to snuggle into bed with a blanket, a cup of tea and a good book. You might want to consider taking an extra blanket while reading the book I want to tell you about. It’s called ‘The Ice Balloon’ and pretty much all adventures in this book take place above the arctic circle. The book is written by American journalist Alec Wilkinson and was published in 2012. 

 The Dutch version of 'The Ice Balloon'

The main subject of the book is the Arctic Balloon Expedition led by Salomon August Andrée, a Swedish adventurer born in candy and balloon heaven Gränna. As supposed to what I expected to the book is not only about the attempt to reach the north pole by balloon. To sketch a clarifying whole of the time in which Andrée lived also other North Pole expeditions from for example Fridtjof Nansen are described in a detailed way. It might not be the most ‘cozy’ book I’ve ever read, but it for sure created a lively image of what adventurers had to go through during months of freezing cold temperatures with hardly any food and strong thoughts to just surrender to a lonely death. Very intriguing. The readers are introduced to Andrée's remarkable personality, the preparation for the flight of his life and the eventual adventure that followed.

One of the pictures made by Strindberg

I couldn’t have picked a better place to read the last chapters of this book; warmed by the Swedish summer sun in Gränna, just a few houses away from the place where Andrée was born. Perfect. Unfortunately that cannot be said about the end of Andrée’s expedition. Together with his companions Nils Strindberg and Knut Fraenkel he was found back 33 years after their departure in 1897. Many of the pictures taken by Strindberg were still intact. Whenever you’re near Gränna I highly recommend you to visit the Grenna Museum which offers a lot of information, artifacts and pictures of the Arctic Balloon Expedition. Here a little sneak peek of what you can expect there:

So, whenever you're interested in adventurous expeditions and ballooning I definetely recommend you to read this book. I'm not the most fanatic reader myself, but these subjects always manage to catch my attention.