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De Ijsballon (2012)

by Alec Wilkinson(Favorite Author)
3.5 of 5 Votes: 1
review 1: This book was a big pile of meh for me. It was interesting because I really didn't know much about Arctic exploration before now, and I'm curious, so I might pick up a better book some day. It's also interesting because these people are freaking nuts. You can't walk to the north pole, so naturally, lets get into a balloon that we can't steer and see if the winds will carry us to the north pole. Um, no.I agree with other reviewers that it just doesn't seem like there was enough material here. We know a bit about the trip, 60ish hours afloat, the trials and tribulations, then the landing, the trek. But, where's the maps? We're talking about actual islands, glaciers, icebergs, and I feel like I learned absolutely nothing about anything! Other than not to try to take a... more balloon to the north pole, which I can tell you, I already knew.I really really wanted a map by the end, the author even mentions a map! But it's not included. Ultimately, I wanted a little less about 3-4 other expeditions, and a little more about this one. Even if some of the chapters were extrapolation, with the caveat that we can't know this for sure, that's what the author did in "Catherine The Great" and although it was a bit frustrating there too because it got tiring to hear "we don't for for sure, but..." at the same time, it's nice to have some personality fleshed out, some idea of who these people are and what they want, as well as where and why they're going.Andree was very brave, or foolhardy, and the mystery of their deaths will have me wondering for a while. One appears to have died before the other two, there is no indication of why the other two died. Exhaustion? Polar bears? Evil spirits?The privations that these three men experiences, as well as the others who lived...it also makes me wonder just how many expiditions still lie there, under the ice. With global warming, maybe one day we'll know. More likely, just as with much of history, these lives instead have disappeared without a trace.Book of the Day for January 6, 2014!
review 2: This book had a lot of potential, after all it is a story about a man who attempts to reach the North Pole by balloon, in an era when balloons were still cutting edge technology and the North Pole was an unattainable challenge. Unfortunately, perhaps because insufficient material exists to really flesh out Andree's story, Wilkinson pads this book with other bits and pieces. Some are relevant and interesting (e.g. some background to the pioneering balloonists) but other material seems to have been added to simply fill in some pages. Several sections were side stories of other arctic explorers that have already been better handled in books of their own (e.g. Nansen's story). As a result, the actual balloon trip only takes off about two thirds of the way through the book and most of the rest of the book is about the search for the three balloonists with only a few short chapter on the actual journey - pieced together from incomplete diaries and photographs. I think the book is worth reading if you are not familiar with arctic exploration of the time, but if you have read other more thorough books about arctic exploration you will probably find this a bit unsatisfying. less
Reviews (see all)
I loved this book, read it in two days. Harrowing stuff, but well-written and sensitive.
Fascinating what men will give up their lives for.
A cracking little book.
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