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Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 3. Juli 2014

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SELECTED AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR BY: JIM CRACE, GUARDIAN - 'A whole wide world of significance' SARAH SANDS, NEW STATESMAN - 'Sheer delight' MICHAEL PRODGER, EVENING STANDARD - 'Picaresque history' DAN JONES, DAILY TELEGRAPH - 'Tremendously inventive' LEV GROSSMAN, TIME MAGAZINE - 'Thrilling history' CHLOE SCHAMA, NEW REPUBLIC - 'Unadulterated delight' KIRKUS - 'Gripping' MAIL ON SUNDAY - 'Tragic' 'A book as delightful as it is unexpected ... [an] extraordinary cabinet of drifting aerial wonderment, a book that will linger and last, as it floats ever upward in the mind' Simon Winchester, Wall Street Journal 'Holmes presents a full-blown, lyrical history of the same subject, investigating the strangeness, detachment and powerful romance of 'falling upwards' into a seemingly alien and uninhabitable element. He lovingly charts ... a history full of awe and inefficiency ... A truly masterly storyteller' Evening Standard 'Endlessly exhilarating ... packed full of swashbuckling stories, as well as fascinating historical accounts of the use of balloons. It is also a singularly beautiful book, wonderfully designed and illustrated and quite clearly a product of love' Mail on Sunday 'What Holmes teases out ... is that ballooning gave us, quite literally, a different point of view ... This exhilarating book, wonderfully written, generously illustrated and beautifully published, captures all that and more' Spectator 'Holmes conjures an extraordinarily vivid, violent, thrilling history, full of bizarre personalities, narrow escapes and fatal plunges. A peerless prose artist, infectiously curious' Time Magazine

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Richard Holmes is the author of the prize-winning and best-selling 'The Age of Wonde'r, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2009 and winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science writing. He is the author of many other prize-winning books including 'Shelley', 'Coleridge', 'Dr Johnson & Mr Savage', and the classic work, 'Footsteps'. He lives in Norwich and is married to the novelist Rose Tremain.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 65 Rezensionen
31 von 36 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
This is not a book about balloons or ballooning 23. Oktober 2013
Von Aaron C. Brown - Veröffentlicht auf
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It is closer to a book about what journalists, poets and novelists thought about balloons, and the popular reaction to their writings. What it actually is one more level removed from balloons, it is a book about the deep subtexts Richard Holmes finds even in seemingly straightforward accounts of ballooning.

I am a fan of Richard Holmes' earlier books, both the biographies and the histories. These mix competent if sometimes sketchy names-and-dates accounts with deep dives into meaning of written passages. These dives are always edifying and often brilliant; at worst they are idiosyncratic but fun.

This book follows the same general plan, but is less successful. Yes, balloons have inspired a lot of creative thinkers, but they are engineering achievements first and objects of contemplation second. This book needs a lot more factual history, science and technical detail. Without this knowledge it is impossible to understand many of the events and accounts. Further, without a framework, the book often reads like disconnected anecdotes.

The second problem is the deep dives seem entirely untethered. Holmes draws on a highly selective account of literary and social history, in which he finds obscure meanings. It goes beyond idiosyncratic and eccentric, the best I can say is that it's always thought-provoking, or something-provoking anyway.

That said, this is a well-written and entertaining book if taken a page or two at a time. Readers who like to know why they are being told things, or where the book is going, may feel frustrated, but patient readers will find a lot to enjoy along the way. If you read this book, treat it like a balloon ride, not an airplane flight to a destination.
10 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
"There's something in a huge balloon." W. Wordsworth 6. September 2013
Von E.M. Bristol - Veröffentlicht auf
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When I was a kid, we lived near a golf course, and I can remember seeing the hot air balloons occasionally drifting over our house. At the time, I vowed to one day ride in one myself, something I have yet to do, but the dream was rekindled after reading "Falling Upwards: How We Took To the Air," by Richard Holmes, a history of ballooning that is dramatic, intriguing and beguiling. He begins by describing the harrowing trip of Major John Money, who in 1785 raised money for a hospital, and who came to grief, but returned to ballooning undaunted. The book ends with a detailed account of three "extreme balloonists" who made a perilous polar expedition to the North Pole, of which photos and personal accounts have survived.

According to Holmes, himself a balloonist, balloonists come in all shapes and sizes, but have a few things in common: a passion to be airborne, and resilience in the face of danger. Like passionate equestrians, they tend to get back in the saddle (or basket) fairly soon after an accident.

As for their chosen mode of transport, balloons have been used throughout the ages for far more than simply pleasure flights. Their uses include:

1) Bringing messages to loved ones during war, including during the siege of Paris by the Prussians in the 1870's, as well as during the Civil War.

2) To advertise and generate publicity. Newspapers have solicited accounts from balloonists, and writer Guy Maupassant used a balloon to kick off his book tour.

3) As a symbol of women's rights: Women performers who used balloons to dazzle the crowd were seen as suffragettes.

4) Exploration: Used to study weather conditions and geology among other things. Balloonists often became inventors, as well, in their attempts to accurate predict and record data.

5. As symbols in art and literature. Writers didn't just use balloons as symbols in their work, however, many, such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and more recently, Ian McEwan went up in them themselves.

There was also "champagne ballooning," as a pastime of the well-to-do set. But most of the stories in this book are on the adventurous side, as those with a passion for balloons indulge their adventurous side. "Falling Upwards," pays homage to the men and women who often risked their lives to explore the world via balloon, or as Or as Holmes puts it, "A story of courage in the face of imminent catastrophe."
8 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Colorful characters, the art and science of ballooning, a history of ideas, and the excitement of discovery 2. September 2013
Von Suzanne - Veröffentlicht auf
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I lost myself reading The Age of Wonder, the previous book by Richard Holmes, becoming completely caught up in its enticing panorama of the Romantic Age of Europe, when there were still far flung parts of the globe to explore, most of the chemical elements awaited discovery, and poets and scientists looked to each other for inspiration, so I started Falling Upwards with great anticipation and it largely lived up to my expectations.

Like the previous book, Falling Upwards has a mix of art and scientific discovery, and is full of fascinating, colorful characters, but here they are all involved in the science, circus-like demonstrations, or military uses of ballooning. It spends most of its pages on the dangerous but exciting early stages of ballooning from around 1780 through the early 1900's, though there are some stories about more recent balloon exploits, like a risky escape over the Berlin Wall. It's not a conventional history but in a clever and effective move the book uses ballooning to explore evolving attitudes, technologies, culture, and beliefs. The idea of flight thrilled people, ballooning gave us our first mind-expanding vision of the world as seen from on high, and Falling Upwards successfully captures the excitement and joy of discovery.

For me one of the most interesting episodes described is the use of balloons to try to break the punishing 1870-71 siege of Paris when Bismarck set out to cut that city off from the world and let Parisians starve. The book's only negatives from my perspective are that it has a little too many details about the science of ballooning, and a few too many characters to keep track of, but the enthusiasm of Holmes is infectious and the book is a wonderful read.
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Captures the thrill and adventure of hot air balooning 20. November 2013
Von Neal Reynolds - Veröffentlicht auf
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This isn't just a history of balooning, but of attitudes and ideas. It's superbly written and supplies plenty of information about balooning and baloonists. This is truly an inspiring book and is likely to make the reader wish these baloons were still evident in our skies.
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A heady blend of science and culture 21. November 2013
Von ck - Veröffentlicht auf
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I wish more academics could write like Richard Holmes.

Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air is simultaneously informative and inspiring. Holmes takes a subject of much fascination -- ballooning -- and with clarity and elegance, plumbs both its science and its very heart. He whisks us along for the ride in a brisk, exhilarating exploration of the documented development of ballooning, complete with vivid profiles of the people who breathed life into their quest to stretch the bonds of gravity.

Holmes introduces strands of contemporary accounts of these aerostationists, as well as providing political, social, and literary context. Doing so adds immensely to the rich, enveloping feel of the book, because these added bits of contemporaneous knowledge provide additional understanding of how and why these folks persisted, as well as the tugs and releases these bygone eras provided. Footnotes that explain and amplify are where they belong: anchoring the bottoms of the pages they enhance, rather than banished to the end of each chapter. Maps, portraits, paintings, posters, and period engravings and photographs are sprinkled throughout.

"Falling Upwards" is a heady blend of science, culture, and sociology, while being quite dense in terms of volume of content. Thumbnails of the eccentric made me smile, even as I admired the underlying bravery of these intrepid souls. Explorations of historical perspective compelled me to pause and think, and sometimes to wander external paths in search of additional information about a time or place (Vauxhall Gardens is just one example of this) or to dip into another author's prose (Edgar Allan Poe, for example).

I could trot out additional adjectives to describe my appreciation for his ability to meld research and prose, but I'd rather close with a few of Holmes's own sentences describing the launch of his "flying dream" at age 4, while at a village fete with an uncle who bought the young boy his first helium balloon and tied it to the top button of his shirt:

"It pulled mysteriously and insistently at my button," Holmes writes. "Below me stretched the little tents, the stalls, the show ring with its bales of straw and small dancing horses. Above me bobbed the big red balloon, gleaming and beautiful, blotting out the sun. It bounced off the top of my head, making a strange, springy sound, full of distance. It tugged me impatiently towards the sky, and I began to feel unsteady on my feet. I felt that I was falling -- upwards. Then my uncle let go of my hand, and my dream began."
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