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The story of the only person to attempt to reach the North Pole by balloon, and the golden age of Polar Exploration. In August 1930 a Norwegian sloop sailing in the Arctic Ocean moored at a remote island. Here, the crew members found a body leaning against a rock. When they saw a large mogram 'A' on the body's jacket, they realized who the unfortunate adventurer had been: S. A. Andree, the Swede who, in 1897, set off to discover the North Pole, one of the last unmapped places on earth. The Ice Balloon is the story of the heroic era of polar exploration, and the dream of conquering one of the most inhumane landscapes on earth. In this golden age of discovery, Andree's ambition was the most original and remarkable. For, of the thousand or so people who had gone looking for the Pole, most of whom perished on the way, only Andree used a balloon.
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.