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N-4 Down: The Hunt for the Arctic Airship Italia

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The riveting true story of the largest polar rescue mission in history: the desperate race to find the survivors of the glamorous Arctic airship Italia, which crashed near the North Pole in 1928. During the Roaring Twenties, zeppelin travel embodied the exuberant spirit of the age. Germany’s luxurious Graf Zeppelin ran passenger service from Germany to Brazil; Britain’s Imp The riveting true story of the largest polar rescue mission in history: the desperate race to find the survivors of the glamorous Arctic airship Italia, which crashed near the North Pole in 1928. During the Roaring Twenties, zeppelin travel embodied the exuberant spirit of the age. Germany’s luxurious Graf Zeppelin ran passenger service from Germany to Brazil; Britain’s Imperial Airship Scheme was launched to connect an empire; in America, the iconic spire of the rising Empire State Building was designed as a docking tower for airships. But the new mode of transport offered something else, too: a new frontier of exploration. Whereas previous Arctic and Antarctic explorers had subjected themselves to horrific—often deadly—conditions in their attempts to reach uncharted lands, airships held out the possibility of speedily soaring over the hazards. In 1926, the famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen—the first man to reach the South Pole—partnered with the Italian airship designer General Umberto Nobile to pioneer flight over the North Pole. As Mark Piesing reveals in this masterful account, while that mission was thought of as a great success, it was in fact riddled with near-disasters and political pitfalls. In May 1928, his relationship with Amundsen corroded beyond the point of collaboration, Nobile, his dog, and a crew of fourteen Italians, one Swede, and one Czech, set off on their own in the airship Italia—code-named N-4—to discover new lands in the Arctic Circle and to become the first airship to land men on the pole. Near the North Pole they hit a terrible storm and crashed on to the ice. Six crew members were never seen again; the injured (including Nobile) took refuge on ice flows, unprepared for the wretched conditions and with little hope for survival. Coincidentally, in Oslo a gathering of famous Arctic explorers had assembled for a celebration of the first successful flight from Alaska to Norway. Hearing of the accident, they (Amundsen among them) organized the largest international polar rescue expedition in history. As the weeks passed, the survivors engaged in a last-ditch struggle against weather, polar bears and despair. When they were spotted at last, the search plane landed—but the pilot announced that there was only room for one passenger… Braiding together the gripping accounts of the survivors and their heroic rescuers, N-4 Down tells the unforgettable true story of what happened when the glamor and restless daring of the zeppelin age collided with the harsh reality of Earth’s extremes. 


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The riveting true story of the largest polar rescue mission in history: the desperate race to find the survivors of the glamorous Arctic airship Italia, which crashed near the North Pole in 1928. During the Roaring Twenties, zeppelin travel embodied the exuberant spirit of the age. Germany’s luxurious Graf Zeppelin ran passenger service from Germany to Brazil; Britain’s Imp The riveting true story of the largest polar rescue mission in history: the desperate race to find the survivors of the glamorous Arctic airship Italia, which crashed near the North Pole in 1928. During the Roaring Twenties, zeppelin travel embodied the exuberant spirit of the age. Germany’s luxurious Graf Zeppelin ran passenger service from Germany to Brazil; Britain’s Imperial Airship Scheme was launched to connect an empire; in America, the iconic spire of the rising Empire State Building was designed as a docking tower for airships. But the new mode of transport offered something else, too: a new frontier of exploration. Whereas previous Arctic and Antarctic explorers had subjected themselves to horrific—often deadly—conditions in their attempts to reach uncharted lands, airships held out the possibility of speedily soaring over the hazards. In 1926, the famed Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen—the first man to reach the South Pole—partnered with the Italian airship designer General Umberto Nobile to pioneer flight over the North Pole. As Mark Piesing reveals in this masterful account, while that mission was thought of as a great success, it was in fact riddled with near-disasters and political pitfalls. In May 1928, his relationship with Amundsen corroded beyond the point of collaboration, Nobile, his dog, and a crew of fourteen Italians, one Swede, and one Czech, set off on their own in the airship Italia—code-named N-4—to discover new lands in the Arctic Circle and to become the first airship to land men on the pole. Near the North Pole they hit a terrible storm and crashed on to the ice. Six crew members were never seen again; the injured (including Nobile) took refuge on ice flows, unprepared for the wretched conditions and with little hope for survival. Coincidentally, in Oslo a gathering of famous Arctic explorers had assembled for a celebration of the first successful flight from Alaska to Norway. Hearing of the accident, they (Amundsen among them) organized the largest international polar rescue expedition in history. As the weeks passed, the survivors engaged in a last-ditch struggle against weather, polar bears and despair. When they were spotted at last, the search plane landed—but the pilot announced that there was only room for one passenger… Braiding together the gripping accounts of the survivors and their heroic rescuers, N-4 Down tells the unforgettable true story of what happened when the glamor and restless daring of the zeppelin age collided with the harsh reality of Earth’s extremes. 

34 review for N-4 Down: The Hunt for the Arctic Airship Italia

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    The race to get to the arctic circle was run on foot and in the air by zeppelin in the 1920s. This was not without great risk as we know by the number of expeditions who turned back or disappeared. One of these expeditions was the Italia who Roald Amundsen crewed to be the first ship to land on the North Pole but instead ran into a huge storm where they lost some of the crew and were left to try to survive as best they could. Even though a huge rescue operation was launched they had little means The race to get to the arctic circle was run on foot and in the air by zeppelin in the 1920s. This was not without great risk as we know by the number of expeditions who turned back or disappeared. One of these expeditions was the Italia who Roald Amundsen crewed to be the first ship to land on the North Pole but instead ran into a huge storm where they lost some of the crew and were left to try to survive as best they could. Even though a huge rescue operation was launched they had little means of finding them out in the vast polar region. An exciting adventure that pits men against the most extreme elements and with basic means of surviving. The pace is good but I did get lost with the extra information about the bad blood between Noble and Amundsen. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda Odum

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mara

  4. 5 out of 5

    judy garner

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beth G.

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    Court

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Adams

  9. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bailey S.

  11. 4 out of 5

    amy

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tracy Dishman

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    Kevin

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    V

  15. 5 out of 5

    Liz Miller

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    Lydia Wallace

  17. 4 out of 5

    Melissa ahmed

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michele

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    Hillary

  20. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

  21. 4 out of 5

    Johnna

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dayna

  23. 5 out of 5

    Gaochoua Vue

  24. 5 out of 5

    Douglass Abramson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zenaida

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    James Cozzarelli

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  29. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  31. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Gerhart

  32. 4 out of 5

    Bettye Short

  33. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Hughes

  34. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

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