I will update this page with reviews of N-4 DOWN: the hunt for the Arctic airship Italia.
“…This is the story that British journalist Mark Piesing undertakes in “N-4 Down,” and he proves himself up to the task and more. The story he’s chosen has all the elements of good fiction. Difficult and complex leading characters, epic conflicts of man vs. man and man vs. nature, political intrigue, high adventure, destructive hubris and significant tragedy. Plus it has airships over the Arctic, which would send it into the realm of steampunk had it not actually happened.
“Piesing has taken on a complicated and richly detailed narrative and crafted a work of literary nonfiction that readers will get lost in, but in a good way. Working with seemingly no end of plot twists, and more characters than most writers would know what to do with, he’s written a suspense tale that proves impossible to put down…
“Piesing’s writing can be likened to that of Simon Winchester, another British journalist with a penchant for narrative histories. The book moves quickly through the story, yet manages to incorporate extensive details and place the story fully in the era in which it occurred.
A century ago, men came north equipped with aircraft and radio, thinking the Arctic would finally be easy. It wasn’t. “N-4 Down” is the unforgettable story of why.”
David James, Anchorage Daily News, and syndicated across Alaska.
“N-4 Down by Mark Piesing takes readers on a thrilling, nail-biting adventure of the largest arctic rescue operation in history as famed Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, rushed to save the surviving crew of the airship Italia, which crashed during its attempt to land men at the North Pole in 1928. The history and aeronautical buffs on your holiday shopping list are going to absolutely love it.”
Engadget recommended N-4 DOWN as one of The books and movies we’re gifting this year.
Engadget published an extract from N-4 DOWN here.
“Now, Mark Piesing has penned “N–4 Down,” a recounting of another airship meeting its demise. This tale, however, is less a requiem for the airship era than an examination of how hubris curtails the potential of the machines humans make.
“Piesing alludes to an odd parallel between the airships and the explorers of that time. Like the hydrogen-filled dirigibles, the men pining to be “the first” have inflated senses of destiny and combustible egos. The fates of both machine and men were at the mercy of the elements: for airships, it was unpredictable weather; for explorers, it was politics, pride and jealous rivals…
“One of the joys of reading accounts of events a century ago is that authors gain access to letters, diaries, journals and other handwritten material that provide so much texture to narratives. Consequently, the stories are rich in detail. Piesing provides great context about the aviation era. He also reveals how petty and shallow explorers, top celebrities of the day, could be.
“This is a fine book for explaining why men have a tendency to bring down the very thing they’re trying to pump up.”
The Daily Beast published an extract from N- DOWN here
AirMail recommended N-4 DOWN in its weekly staff picks.
CrimeReads featured N-4 DOWN in its 10 NEW BOOKS COMING OUT THIS WEEK.
Lit Hub published with sister site CrimeReads an extract from my new book as…The Airship Italia: A Mystery at the of the Golden Age of Polar Exploration
“Mark Piesing in N-4 Down explores the least remembered of this forgotten era: the story of Roald Amundsen, Umberto Nobile, and their airship adventures in the Arctic, one of the greatest aeronautical feats of all time.”
“Almost half of the book prepares the reader with sufficient background for the gripping telling of the story of the crash of N-4 Italia and the deadly attempt at rescue.”
‘The Arctic of that time loomed large in the media and the public’s imagination. More than 1,000 men died trying to reach the North Pole by various means. It had real-life mysteries such as the disappearance of the Franklin expedition..such background makes the detailed account of Amundsen’s and Nobile’s adventures so much more than a high adventure in a deadly, unforgiving environment.”
“N-4 Down is an engrossing read where the author seamlessly tells a great adventure including adequate background but without distraction from his storyline. It makes a fast and engaging read.”
– Robert S. Davis, Hunt for the Arctic Airship Italia, New York Journal of Books.
“In compelling prose, Piesing draws us into the feverish efforts to conquer the Arctic by air.”
“N-4 Down works in large part because it is refreshingly well-written… It was a pleasure to be captivated by a working journalist like Piesing’s ability to put together a swath of prose that actually made me want to turn the page.”
“Piesing’s narrative latches hold in part because although we live in an era in which there’s a lot of talk about pushing the limit of aerospace exploration, it’s been decades years since Amelia Earhart, Richard Byrd and Amundsen routinely risked their lives for the sake of aeronautical exploration.” — Dorminey.
“Piesing deserves credit for bringing this forgotten bit of aerospace history back to light.”
– The Wall Street Journal Books newsletter 20/8 recommended N-4 DOWN as 1 of 2 Nonfiction True Page Turners
“One of the greatest polar rescue efforts ever mounted, a saga that journalist Mark Piesing retells in N-4 Down.”
“Mr. Piesing writes with obvious enthusiasm for his subject. His depictions of airship flight are gripping, whether he’s discussing the Norge’s 1926 journey over an icy wasteland traversed by Arctic foxes and polar bears or the doomed Italia’s final hours.”
“This is a book with much to enjoy and a good illustration of what human curiosity, determination and courage—and sometimes a healthy dollop of vanity—can achieve.”
– Diana Preston, N-4 Down Review: Above The Ice, The Wall St Journal
“Mark Piesing evocatively brings to life a lesser-known tale in the ill-fated history of polar exploration. Like the stories of Franklin and Shackleton, it combines triumph, disaster, heroism, hubris and mystery—but unlike them it features dashing aviators in airships and seaplanes. It is an epic tale that deserves to be far more widely known.” — Tom Standage, New York Times bestselling author of A History of The World in 6 Glasses
“A meticulously researched and utterly gripping account of adventure, airships and adversity, Mark Piesing’s N-4 Down is a brilliant book. Packed with a cast of vivid characters, magnificent flying machines, political machinations and tales of survival against all imaginable odds, it depicts one of the most extraordinary stories of not just aviation and exploration, but the twentieth century as a whole. You will never forget General Nobile, the airship and the endless ice they faced.” — Michael Bhaskar, author of Human Frontiers: The Future of Big Ideas in an Age of Small Thinking
“N-4 Down is a gripping, detailed tale of exploration, betrayal and rescue. Mark Piesing has crafted a fascinating recounting of a liminal time when flying and polar expeditions were equally risky, so of course people tried to combine them. Think The Terror, but with airships.” — Charles Arthur, author of Social Warming and Digital Wars, former technology editor at The Guardian
“The author has visited the places about which he writes, and his sketches of remote locales make for interesting reading. He also offers useful insights on the strange blend of competition and cooperation that characterized Arctic exploration. … Of interest to would-be Arctic explorers and armchair adventurers.” — Kirkus Reviews
Pre-ordering the book really helps the author. So if you want to pre-order then click on one of these links…
Barnes and Nobile