About the book
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July 1897. Engineer Andrée’s expedition takes off in a gas balloon heading for the North Pole. A bold idea without hope from the start. Soon three men, with minimal knowledge of arctic conditions, find themselves in the middle of a white nightmare.
For thirty-three years a woman wonders what happened to her fiancé. In 1930, the bodies of Salomon August Andrée, Nils Strindberg and Knut Frænkel are finally found on a desert glacial island in the Arctic Ocean. Their frozen journal reports of an emergency landing on the ice after three days in the air. They drag their several-hundred-kilo heavy sleds for months trying to find their way back to solid ground. On White Island all notes suddenly stop.
For more than a hundred years physicians, arctic historians, authors and journalists have tried to solve the puzzle of what happened on White Island. Why did the members of the expedition die before they had even unpacked their sleds, when they had warm clothes in their luggage, unopened food cans, and guns in working order as well as boxes and boxes of ammunition?
In The Expedition, author and physician Bea Uusma searches for the truth about the expedition. She digs in archives and in the permafrostic soil layers of the arctic regions. She travels to the Arctic and to the North Pole. She meets with medical examiners, osteologists, forensics experts and crime scene investigators. She tries to get answers from lab tests and packing lists, and from the only thing left of Andrée himself, a few nail fragments retrieved from deep inside his gloves.
The result is not only a book that overthrows old theories and gives new answers to what really h appened. This is the story about the world’s most unsuccessful polar expedition, but it is equally much a story about Bea Uusma herself. Why does a very comfortable person, who more than anything hates the snow and being cold, get obsessed with a hundred-year-old polar expedition and commit her life to follow in its snow-covered footsteps? Always in the right place but in the wrong era.
The Expedition is published in two designs: one is a textbook, and the other a lavish, illustrated edition with photos, drawings, maps and extensive extra material. In 2013 the book was awarded the August Prize for Best Swedish Non-Fiction Book of the Year.