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The Explorer Gene: How Three Generations of One Family Went Higher, Deeper, and Further Than Any Beforeby Tom Cheshire
Synopses & Reviews
The remarkable account of an extraordinary family of explorers who spurred innovation and accomplished incredible feats — even when the popular consensus was against them.
Meet the Piccards. Swiss, all taller than 6'5", with high foreheads and leonine hair. Great Uncle Jules helped build the world's first hydroelectric power plant. In 1931, Grandfather Auguste flew higher than any man before him in a balloon he designed himself. And when his twin brother, Jean-Felix, beat his record, Auguste constructed his own submersible and went deeper into the ocean than any man before him. Even Auguste's grandson, Bertrand, who tried to escape the family legacy and become a psychiatrist, inevitably had his own breakthrough: in 1999, he became the first person to circumnavigate the world in a balloon.
In Beyond Sky and Sea, author Tom Cheshire tells the stories of wildly ambitious, highly risky enterprises — all conducted by members of one unusual family. Combining gripping storytelling with thoughtful, in-depth research, Cheshire captures the spirit of adventure that defined the era in which the early Piccards lived. Although the Piccards coasted through triumph after triumph, this book tells how they won their success as private individuals, without government support, and were frequently ridiculed for their efforts. Nonetheless, nothing has put a stop to them, and even today the Piccard name lives on: Bertrand is building a solar-powered plane and aims to circumnavigate the globe with it in 2014.
The first book from a remarkable new writer, Beyond Sky and Sea is a fascinating story not just about the astonishing feats of one family, but about the limitless bounds of human potential.
On May 27, 1931, Auguste Piccard became the first human to enter the stratosphere, flying an experimental balloon he invented himself. Thirty years later, his son Jacques went to the bottom of the earth, descending to the Mariana Trench in a submarine built by him and Auguste. To this day, no one has gone deeper. Bertrand, the third generation, was the first person to fly around the world non-stop in a balloon. Now, he’s building his own craft: a solar-powered plane to circumnavigate the globe.
In The Explorer Gene, Tom Cheshire asks how three generations of one family achieved such extraordinary feats, often with the consensus against them. None of the Piccards set out to explore: Auguste was a physicist, Jacques an economist and Bertrand a psychiatrist. Was it fate, a famous family name — or their explorer gene?
About the Author
Tom Cheshire received his BA in Classics at Cambridge University. He is the deputy editor of the UK edition of Wired and has written several cover stories. His work has also appeared in GQ, Italia, Conde Nast Traveler, and on BBC2. He lives in London.
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