Falling Upwards tells the story of the enigmatic groupof men and women who first risked their lives to take to the air and sodiscovered a new dimension of human experience. Why they did it, what theircontemporaries thought of them, and how their flights revealed the secrets ofour planet in wholly unexpected ways is its subject.
Dramatic sequences move from the early Anglo-French balloonrivalries, the crazy firework flights of beautiful Sophie Blanchard, therevelatory ascents over the great Victorian cities and sprawling industrialtowns of northern Europe, the astonishing long-distance voyages of the Americanentrepreneur John Wise, and the French photographer Félix Nadar to theterrifying high-altitude flights of James Glaisher, FRS, who rose above sevenmiles without oxygen, helping to establish the new science of meteorology aswell as the environmental notion--so important to us today--of a "fragile"planet. Balloons were also used to observe the horrors of modern battle duringthe American Civil War, including a memorable flight by General Custer.
Readers will discover the many writers and dreamers--fromMary Shelley to Edgar Allan Poe, from Charles Dickens to Jules Verne--who feltthe imaginative impact of flight and allowed it to soar in their work. Moreover, through the strange allure of the great balloonists, Holmes offers anotherof his subtle portraits of human endeavor, recklessness, and vision.