Posted in Book review, Books, Reading Challenge

Book review: The Expedition by Bea Uusma

This is a book about a Swedish expedition towards the North Pole in 1897, and an intriguing investigation more than 100 years later about what the heck went wrong and why these ill-prepared guys never returned home.

Three men with minimal knowledge of arctic conditions, find themselves suddenly in the middle of a white nightmare.

Rough translation from the Finnish edition I had

I never thought I would read a book about this subject, I hadn’t even heard about it even though it’s apparently quite well known. 🙂 The Expedition was a very pleasant surprise. The book was a very interesting combination of historical fact and modern day forensics and it felt like I was reading a detective story.

It all started when author Bea Uusma was at a boring house party and saw a book about this ill-fated expedition. She became fascinated by the story of three men, who died mysteriously and vanished soon after they started their journey on a hydrogen balloon.

Bea Uusma was determined to find out what actually killed the men (there had been many speculations but no 100% certainty). So she studied to become a doctor and used her skills and knowledge as a doctor to reconstruct the circumstances of the final days of these men, and find out what modern forensics could offer as the solution to this mystery.

The book is written beautifully, when it describes the frozen conditions of The Arctic. We get to visit that environment both through the diary notes of the men, and also through Bea Uusma’s own journeys to the locations where the expedition started and to the island where it all ended. The harsh conditions are very vivid, and over and over again I was thinking to myself why on earth were these academic people going to follow through with their crazy plan, when they had so little experience in anything related to this journey? Salomon August Andrée, Nils Strindberg and Knut Fraenkel ended up in an impossible situation, but based on their gear they should’ve survived for a longer time. So what happened to kill 3 young men suddenly? Read and find out what the evidence can tell us now, I won’t spoil it here. 🙂

I can’t believe how determined author Bea Uusma has been to solve this mystery. It seems she became obsessed and for 15 years her passion for this subject carried her through all her research. I’m so happy that this book was awarded and her work received its much deserved appreciation. To have that spark and resilience to do everything you can to reach your goal, is simply amazing.

I highly recommend reading this book, even if you’ve never hear of the expedition. To be honest I only picked this up to fill a prompt in the reading challenges I’m doing, but having read the book, I have no regrets. This is why I like reading challenges: they lure you to read outside your usual books and you never now what kind of gems you might find! This frozen gem was a fascinating book about people in very desperate circumstances, and also an interesting description of modern forensics in a historical context.

The Expedition fills these prompts from the two Reading Challenges I’m doing this year:

Someone flies in the book (Helmet Reading Challenge)

A book about or by a woman in STEM (Popsugar Reading Challenge)


I love books, games and the coziness of our house (currently it's the kingdom of me and my husband). My work in a game studio as a Senior HR Specialist keeps me busy and social, but I am an introvert in my core. Navigating life between my very social work and my introvert, less social personality can be tricky and it goes hand in hand with my interest in overall personal well-being.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s