A comprehensive historical account of the development of Operation Deep Freeze and the IGY, dense but well-written. The first eight chapters give the historical development of the American stations: McMurdo, Little America V, the South Pole, and the three more remote gap stations. Chapters 9 to 11 the major scientific areas of research: meteorology, the physics of the atmosphere, and geology/glaciology, making the scientific details clear to the lay non-scientist. The final chapter is about the experience of life on the ice, an evocative account for anyone who was there.
p. 113—the survival gear on a crashed Otter plane included a Bible.
p. 145 setting up Byrd Station in the West Antarctic interior: Most of the library books, however, did not arrive until the following October.
Some worried about shortages of food, although the reach of that adversity depended on who told the story. Monotony, not lack of nutrition, was a fairer complaint.
p. 146: One acknowledged deficit was alcohol, which was in such short supply that the winter’s beer was rationed to ten cans per man, as one sailor reportedly learned too late after consuming his entire allotment one early September night. There was even less hard liquor. It said something about relative yearnings that by midwinter the collection of pinups adorning the mess hall walls was overtaken by magazine advertisements for whiskey.
p. 321-54: an excellent chapter on “Life on the Ice” during the winter, with emphasis on dealing with monotony.
p. 326-27: Any excuse for a party helped break the monotony of the long dark months. Midwinter, on 22 June, generated the biggest celebration of the year at every station….
More intellectual pursuits were also available. Once he came to peace with the fact that volunteering for Antarctica meant wintering over, Ellsworth pilot Con Jaburg decided to study a foreign language and learn to play a musical instrument. Like many others, with similar intentions, he did neither. He took out two Air Force college extension courses—one in sociology, the other in English literature—but they also languished. He did read heavily in the classics among the station’s (Ellsworth) library holdings and would later teach literature at a community college. At Wilkes, seismologist Henry Birkenhauer taught mathematics up to introductory solid geometry, and aurora and cosmic-ray physicist Dean Denison led a class in German. At Little America, exchange meteorologists Paul Astapenko and Alberto Arruiz taught Russian and Spanish, respectively. These classes “lasted with surprising vigor,” according to Crary’s assistant Harry Francis, who taught history and English to the station’s several foreigners. Charlie Bentley learned to play the recorder on his own at Byrd, and chief Kenneth Kent, electronics technician, brought his bagpipes to Ellsworth. At the same station, Dr. Clint Smith led a class in classical music appreciation for a small but dedicated group. Some Navy men worked on correspondence courses or otherwise prepared for promotion examinations. But more courses were sent down than were used, and of those, far fewer were completed. Many kept personal journals. What they chose to record of daily events and thoughts richly revealed themselves and their surroundings.
[Another paragraph follows on the lecture series at various stations.]
p. 332, at Wilkes Station: arguably the happiest group launched in Deep Freeze II, organized religious practice played a minor role at best…. The official Navy report claimed services were held on Sunday evenings twice a month using the “excellent” Minister’s Handbook, with about four men attending. [Prots. got as many as six or seven.]