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The Explorer Gene

How Three Generations of One Family Went Higher, Deeper, and Further Than Any Before

Foreword by James Cameron

The remarkable account of an extraordinary family of explorers who spurred innovation and accomplished incredible feats—even when the popular consensus was against them.

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?

Courtesy of 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.

"A fascinating cross-section of Piccard family history. As Explorer Gene makes clear, whether inherited or learned, a taste for the exhilaration of discovery is a hard thing to shake."

– Daily Beast

"A spirited chronicle of the dangerous adventures that became the Piccard family business...charming."

– The Boston Globe

"It is the tales of family, faith and endurance that Cheshire delivers with well-researched detail and elegance. In a world where Google Earth and space exploration exist, and many probably question whether there remains uncharted territory, records to be broken, new boundaries to push, and new feats to conquer, Cheshire does us the favor of giving a resounding yes."

– Washington Independent Review of Books

"A page-turning account of a remarkable family and their many groundbreaking ventures."

– Kirkus

"[A] peerless tribute to a clan of European scientific pioneers...engagingly depict[ed]."

– Publishers Weekly