The story of the only person, the Swede S.A. Andree, to attempt to reach the North Pole by balloon. Also looks at the golden age of polar exploration in general, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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 books, including The Happiest Man in the World and The Protest Singer. His honours include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lyndhurst Prize, and a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.
'Wilkinson's writing is so flawless and engaging that I'd read him on a packed subway at rush hour.' Sebastian Junger 'The Ice Balloon tells a remarkable story, while also allowing those of other explorers and their ill-fated expeditions to float gracefully through its pages' Carl Wilkinson, Financial Times 'It does take a writer of Wilkinson's diligence of research, elegance of style and perfect pitch as a storyteller to give a doomed, forgotten hero a fine memorial to his heroic adventure in the golden, amateur age of polar exploration' Iain Finlayson, The Times 'Wilkinson writes with insight and flair, artfully interleaving Andree'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 ... He understands that the value of polar stories lies in our endless love of discovery and the drama of being human.' Sara Wheeler, New York Times 'Some engaging material here' Sunday Telegraph, Melanie McGrath 'If Wilkinson does not add much that is new to the story, he re-tells it with panache and compassion' Joanna Kavenna, Spectator