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

Richard Holmes’s vivid and affectionate story of 19th-century ballooning, Falling Upwards (Pantheon, $35), grew out of his award-winning The Age of Wonder and, like that earlier chronicle, it’s a rich narrative encompassing science and literature, camaraderie and conflict. Balloons excite the imaginations of his rich and diverse cast of characters, and he details what his American and European aeronauts envisioned with this new enterprise, which changed the horizons of scientific research, travel, and entertainment. These adventurers aspired to go ever higher, to the point of asphyxiation, or to travel for longer distances; they dreamed of crossing the Atlantic or reaching the North Pole. Some, like James Glaisher, used ballooning to learn about the planet’s atmosphere. Others, for instance, Sophie Blanchard, performed heart-stopping feats of acrobatics. Holmes also shows how this new means of flight influenced writers, and how figures such as Poe and Verne in turn inspired the balloonists. Falling upwards, of course sometimes led to plunging downward, and the mishaps of the brave and foolhardy are part of the story as well.

Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air By Richard Holmes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307379665
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Pantheon Books - October 29th, 2013

Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air: An Unconventional History of Ballooning By Richard Holmes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307742322
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - September 9th, 2014