Monday, 1 September 2014

Expeditionen - Min kärlekshistoria (The Expedition) by Bea Uusma

Here I am, on my odyssey in Sweden, my bag full of books. Do I read any of them? No, not so far. It is funny how interesting books tends to turn up at every turn you do. This is one of them. My aunt Maggie received it as a present. It is a thick book, but sooooo nicely designed, containing pictures from the expedition and is so very nice to read. The story is totally fascinating and I read it in one evening and one morning.

The André expedition in 1897 was aimed at travelling to the North pole by air balloon.  The three persons that was part of the expedition were scientists, but not really explorers. They were badly prepared for disaster and expected to fly to the North pole, put a flag there, collect samples of various interesting species or whatever they would find, and return by balloon to Sweden. Unfortunately, the last time they were seen alive was when they flew away. For thirty-three years nobody knew what happened to them. In the 1930s they were found on the White Island by a scientific ship.

For a hundred years researchers, journalists and doctors have tried to solve the riddle of what happened to them. Why did three men die, in spite of a lot of food, warm clothes, a lot of ammunition and three rifles?

Bea Uusma attended a boring party in the middle of the 1990s. She choose a random book from the hosts book shelf and found herself with a book about the André expedition. She left the party with the book, read it and her destiny was made. The book and the story has been part of her life ever since. She educated herself as a doctor to be able to see for herself the reasons for the death of the members of the expedition, she studied archives, old letters, other researchers, all the documents she could lay her hands on. The result we see in this very interesting and loveable book. It is like she says in the title: "My love story".

During the years there have been numerous theories on how the three persons died. After her research she came up with another one, which I personally find believable. There will probably be many more theories in the future. However, this book tells the story of three men, dedicated to the exploring of the North Pole and risking their lives. This book is a wonderful dedication to such daring people.

It is written in Swedish and I don't know whether it has been translated to English or any other language. It should be. More people should be able to read such a love story. 

Photos from the expedition itself and some pages of the book

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