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Falling Upwards : How We Took to the Air
by Richard Holmes

Overview - **"Kirkus" Best Books of the Year (2013)**
**"Time Magazine" 10 Top Nonfiction Books of 2013**
**"The New Republic" Best Books of 2013**
In this heart-lifting chronicle, Richard Holmes, author of the best-selling "The Age of Wonder," follows the pioneer generation of balloon aeronauts, the daring and enigmatic men and women who risked their lives to take to the air (or fall into the sky).
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More About Falling Upwards by Richard Holmes
 
 
 
Overview
**"Kirkus" Best Books of the Year (2013)**
**"Time Magazine" 10 Top Nonfiction Books of 2013**
**"The New Republic" Best Books of 2013**
In this heart-lifting chronicle, Richard Holmes, author of the best-selling "The Age of Wonder," follows the pioneer generation of balloon aeronauts, the daring and enigmatic men and women who risked their lives to take to the air (or fall into the sky). Why they did it, what their contemporaries thought of them, and how their flights revealed the secrets of our planet is a compelling adventure that only Holmes could tell.
His accounts of the early Anglo-French balloon rivalries, the crazy firework flights of the beautiful Sophie Blanchard, the long-distance voyages of the American entrepreneur John Wise and French photographer Felix Nadar are dramatic and exhilarating. Holmes documents as well the balloons used to observe the horrors of modern battle during the Civil War (including a flight taken by George Armstrong Custer); the legendary tale of at least sixty-seven manned balloons that escaped from Paris (the first successful civilian airlift in history) during the Prussian siege of 1870-71; the high-altitude exploits of James Glaisher (who rose) seven miles above the earth without oxygen, helping to establish the new science of meteorology); and how Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jules Verne felt the imaginative impact of flight and allowed it to soar in their work.
A seamless fusion of history, art, science, biography, and the metaphysics of flights, "Falling Upwards" explores the interplay between technology and imagination. And through the strange allure of these great balloonists, it offers a masterly portrait of human endeavor, recklessness, and vision.
(With 24 pages of color illustrations, and black-and-white illustrations throughout.)

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307379665
  • ISBN-10: 0307379663
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Publish Date: October 2013
  • Page Count: 404


Related Categories

Books > Transportation > Aviation - History
Books > Science > History
Books > Technology > Aeronautics & Astronautics

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-08-26
  • Reviewer: Staff

Mesmerized by the dash and eccentricity of many who have flown balloons since the first Montgolfiers of 1783, Holmes (The Age of Wonder) communicates the perilous delight of ballooning through tales of scientific feats and derring-do. Fearless, reckless French aeronaut Sophie Blanchard delighted both Napoleon and restored Bourbon King Louis XVIII as she released nighttime aerial firework displays and executed complicated acrobatics while standing, exposed, in a tiny silver gondola. (In 1819, thousands watched horrified as Blanchard, aged 41, crashed to her death in a fiery descent from the Paris sky.) Although New Hampshirite Thaddeus Lowe’s dreams of transatlantic balloon flight were cut short by the Civil War, he persuaded Lincoln that a balloon could carry telegraph equipment and send direct aerial observations to a commander on the ground; and “one of Lowe’s most brilliant observational coups” was the discovery of the Confederates’ May 1862 secret evacuation of Yorktown under cover of darkness. British meteorologist James Glaisher (1809–1903) attempted to determine how high a man could fly before he was “asphyxiated, frozen, burnt or even electrocuted by static electricity in high clouds.” An unconventional history of ballooning, this quirky, endearing, and enticing collection melds the spirit of discovery with chemistry, physics, engineering, and the imagination. Illus. (Oct.)

 
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