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Five Weeks in a Balloon

Jules Verne

Date of publication: 1863

It is the first Verne novel in which he perfected the "ingredients" of his later work, skillfully mixing a plot full of adventure and twists that hold the reader's interest with passages of technical, geographic, and historic description. The book gives readers a glimpse of the exploration of Africa, which was still not completely known to Europeans of the time, with explorers traveling all over the continent in search of its secrets.

Public interest in fanciful tales of African exploration was at its height, and the book was an instant hit; it made Verne financially independent and got him a contract with Jules Hetzel's publishing house, which put out several dozen more works of his for over forty years afterward.

Plot summary

A scholar, Samuel Ferguson, accompanied by his manservant Joe and his friend Richard "Dick" Kennedy, sets out to travel across the African continent - still not fully explored - with the help of a hot-air balloon filled with hydrogen. He has invented a mechanism that, by eliminating the need to release gas or throw ballast overboard to control his altitude, allows very long trips to be taken. This voyage is meant to link together the voyages of Sir Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke in East Africa with those of Heinrich Barth in the regions of the Sahara and Chad.

(From Wikipedia, description text under GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL))

Free ebook in PDF format 305 pages - 3,8 Mb , also available in EPUB and MOBI formats.

Main topics: friendship, adventure, opportunity, civilization, colonialism, cruelty, discovery, desert, elements, exotic, exploit, suffering, travel

Full original french version also available:
Cinq semaines en ballon

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