It is a forlorn sight—a balloon, limply inflated, lying on its side in a trackless wasteland of snow and fog while its crewmen contemplate their situation. This is the photograph that impelled longtime New Yorker staff writer Alec Wilkinson to give us this history of S.A. Andrée's singular attempt to fly over the North Pole in a balloon. Rediscovered in 1930 on remote White Island, the remains of the ill-fated 1897 expedition yielded a diary and undeveloped photos, and Wilkinson considers the lure of polar exploration through Andrée's doomed yet visionary plan.
"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."—Financial Times (London)
"Wilkinson's writing is so flawless and engaging that I'd read him on a packed subway at rush hour."—Sebastian Junger