Author(s): Bea Uusma
On July 11th, 1897, three men set out in a hydrogen balloon bound for the North Pole. Led by engineer August Soloman Andree, they want to make history, but are frighteningly underprepared. Three days into their journey they make a crash landing and disappear into a white nightmare. They never return. 33 years later. The men's bodies and equipment are found buried beneath the snow and ice on a deserted glacier. They had enough food, clothing and ammunition to survive. Why did they die? 100 years later. Artist and doctor Bea Uusma is at a party. Bored, she pulls a books off the shelf. It is about the Andree Expedition. For the next fifteen years, Bea will think of nothing else...This is her journey to uncover the truth.
The author is a writer, illustrator and doctor who, around the turn of this century, read a book about an attempt to cross the Arctic by balloon 100 years before. As she tells the reader, for the next 15 years it completely obsessed her (it is the Love Story of the subtitle). The result is a fascinating book about the tragedy from the point of view of someone who simply left no stone unturned to try to find out what really happened. The three men of the expedition ended up on an ice-bound island in the Arctic which seemed impossible to reach, so she even funded another expedition using an ice-breaker to take her there. The book won the prestigious Swedish August Prize (named for August Strindberg) in 2013 for best Swedish non-fiction book of the year. The translation is excellent, the story really flows, and I simply had to read it in one sitting. - Jan
The Expediton is a beautifully produced and narrated story, which is part account of the fated 1897 balloon expedition to the North Pole, part adventure, part love story, and is also an account of the process of solving the mystery that surrounded the tragic deaths of the explorers. I loved everything about this book, the way the book felt in my hands, the black and white photographs throughout, the diagrams, extracts from letters and documents, the design, the variation in typography to indicate times and types of evidence. There is such beauty in the style of writing that captures the bleakness and difficulty of the journey as well as the relationship between Nils Strindberg and his fiancée Anna Charlier. Bea Uusma also reveals her obsession with the expedition and her unfailing pursuit of the details and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the explorers. - Sarah
Bea Uusma started investigating the Andree expedition whilst completing her medical degree. THE EXPEDITION was awarded the August Prize, 2013 for best non-fiction book.