On May 24, 1928, the airship Italia successfully reached the North Pole—proof that the Italians, too, were part of the waning golden age of polar exploration. But on its return journey to Norway, the airship plunged from the sky and smashed into the Arctic pack ice. General Umberto Nobile and eight other survivors were stranded on an ice floe nearly two hundred miles from land.
Nobile’s bitter rival, legendary Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen—the first man to sail the Northwest Passage and the first to reach the South Pole—announced his willingness to come to the general’s rescue. But Mussolini couldn’t bear the humiliation of his general being saved by an enemy, so Amundsen set off on an unauthorized recovery mission of his own.
Journalist Eva Holland delivers a glittering portrayal of the ill-fated voyage of the airship Italia and the rescue missions it precipitated, set against the backdrop of rising nationalism in Europe. Mussolini’s Arctic Airship explores how the changing politics of interwar Europe shaped the lives and deaths of men—even in the farthest frozen reaches of the planet.
Cover design by Pepe NYMI.