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The Story of The Early Conquest Of The Sky
on 17 June 2013
This is a thoroughly researched account of the historical events that took mankind into the air. The oceans and the land had been and were being explored. The sky was the last pioneering frontier. Richard Holmes has lovingly written an entertaining journey into the origins of successful flight. A balloonist himself, he describes the venture as 'the mental release, the physical heart-lift, and the calm perilous descent'. Ballooning has involved adventure and expectations ranging from science, war, exploration, travel (steering a hazard), communication and even an air rescue operation in Paris. The bravado of the early exponents exposed to the unknown effects of altitude and destination are delineated with both tragic and humorous undertones.
From the first cross-channel success in 1785 to the first non-stop round the world flight in 1999, the author fills in the gaps. Ballooning from it's advent and intent is now largely a leisure industry not withstanding the enthusiasts. The author states that this book is 'not really about balloons at all. It is about what balloons gave rise to'. The spirit of adventure and the romanticism that authors and film-makers have developed is vivid as the dream-like description of the exhilaration of looking-down on the ground below. Not for my head for heights, but clearly popular.
A wonderful book, lavishly illustrated and a joy to possess and to read again and again.