Drama in the Arctic: S.O.S. Italia, Fred Goldberg, 8¼ by 11¾ inches, perfect bound, 144 pages, self published, Lidingö, Sweden 2003, ISBN 91-6313971-5. $30 U.S. postpaid to USA and Canada, €25 postpaid to Europe, from the author, P.O. Box 1210, Lidingö 18124, Sweden.

 

            Following his recent successful projects on Roald Amundsen and Otto Nordenskjöld, Goldberg has prepared another thoroughly detailed monograph on the tragic crash of the dirigible Italia near the Svalbard islands on its return from a flight over the North Pole in 1928. The book is companion to an exhibition of artifacts and memorabilia at the Fram Museum of Oslo that opened in June 2003.

            The attempts to locate and rescue the airship's commander and expedition leader, Umberto Nobile, and the rest of the crew resulted in further losses of life, including that of Polar explorer Roald Amundsen whose search plane and crew vanished.

            Goldberg provides a detailed account, drawing heavily on personal diaries and newspapers accounts of the time. This day-by-day retelling of the story is enhanced with photos and picture post cards from the author's own collections. The story includes many aspects of the postal history of the events with use of stamps, cancels, and covers. Thus the historical and postal historical narratives are somewhat interwoven.

Marginal captions lead the reader through the sequence of events. A postal history section near the end of the book describes in more detail the postal artifacts reproduced in the book. The author provides separate bibliographies of philatelic and general references, and a good index.

Given the age of some of the photos, the illustrations are quite good. This is a nicely retold story of the extremes to which Polar explorers subjected themselves.

 

Alan Warren