Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air

Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air

by Richard Holmes
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Overview

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

**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.)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307379665
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/29/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.46(h) x 1.42(d)

About the Author

RICHARD HOLMES is the author of The Age of Wonder, which was short-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, won the Royal Society Prize for Science Books and the National Books Critics Circle Award, and was one of The New York Times Book Review’s Best Books of the Year in 2009. Holmes’s other books include Footsteps, Sidetracks, Shelley: The Pursuit (winner of the Somerset Maugham Award) Coleridge: Early Visions (winner of the1989 Whitbread Book of the Year Award) Coleridge: Darker Reflections (an NBCC finalist), and Dr. Johnson & Mr. Savage (winner of the James Tait Black Prize). He was awarded the OBE in 1992. He lives in England.

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Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
leopardiNJ More than 1 year ago
Unlike heavier-than-air flight, human transport in balloons posed no great technical hurdles. Take a bag big yet light enough, fill it with hot air, hydrogen, methane or, eventually, helium, affix a basket to stand in and up you go. But where? And why? The author of Falling Upwards, Richard Holmes, may have deliberately aimed at mimicking the inherent frivolity and pointlessness of most balloon travel by writing a book, that, except for a rough, overall historical framework, wanders about through dozens of, albeit interesting, vignettes of the many glamorous and some not so glorious balloon adventures. Falling Upwards is Holmes expansion of a chapter from his previous and far better book, The Age of Wonder, in which he deliberately set out to highlight the poetic side of 18th and 19th century scientists. Perhaps Holmes should have left the topic of balloons to that one chapter. Falling Upwards is largely devoid of the technical details of the development of balloon flight with more time spent on the poetry of ballooning than on the methodology. The lack of technique begs the question of the ultimate value of all those ballooning efforts. Was there a spinoff? Or was it all just a lark with an occasional veneer of science thrown in order to obtain funding? Is ballooning really how we took to the air, or how the air took us for a ride? The author never gets around to the heady days of Zeppelins and there is only passing reference to modern high-altitude balloon ascents. Which is, perhaps, a blessing, since these were little more than stunts as well. The book contains both a Bibliography and References, an Index but no Notes, and several illustrations, many in color. Richard R. Pardi Environmental Science William Paterson University
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
His explains the full history of lighter-than-air flight's infancy. A very good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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