Today, I’m joined by author and journalist Mark Piesing. Mark specialises in writing about technology, culture and everything in between for some of the biggest names in the media, and has recently published his first book, N4 Down : The Hunt for the Arctic Airship Italia. This book tells the story of the largest polar rescue mission in history: the desperate race to find the survivors of the glamorous Arctic airship Italia, which crashed near the North Pole in 1928. I was intrigued by premise of the book and decided to give it a read, and having enjoyed it immensely, I invited Mark to join me as a guest, so I hope you are sitting comfortably and happy to stay with us but before we go to Mark, I want you all to take a moment to listen to another independent podcast which is produced by a colleague of mine, Shashati Basu called How to be. It’s a great podcast series and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.
I started our conversation by asking Mark about his early years and what drew him to journalism (01:06), why people are so fascinated by Polar stories (03:45), the realisation that science cannot help you in the Arctic (04:55). Then we moved on to talk about the story behind N4 Down (06:00), the fascist Italy connection (07:00), the legacy of Umberto Nobile (09:00), the role of Roald Amundsen in the story (10:22), and the comparison of Scott and Shackleton with those involved in the N4 crash (12:50). We then discussed whether today’s technology is reminiscent of the beginning of the twentieth century (20:50), and if we can learn anything from these pioneers (29:16). To close, I asked Mark where we can buy his book (37:55), and what he is reading at the moment (39:20).