An account of the International Geophysical Year expedition to the Weddell Sea with Captain Finn Ronne, 1956-58, with emphasis on the stresses and conflicts between the military captain and the civilian scientists. Behrendt is unusual in noting, mostly from his daily journal, a substantial amount of reading during the winter at Ellsworth Station. These readings included Ronne’s own Antarctic Conquest (p. 24); War and Peace (p. 58); The Rebel (Camus) and Stefansson’s Arctic Manual (p. 114); Gods Graves and Scholars (Ceram: p. 122); Thurber (p. 136); Cold (Gould: p. 140); thesaurus (p. 153); The White Desert (Giaever: p. 158 with a long quote); Mrs Warren’s Profession (Shaw) and Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck: p. 170); The Rain Cave: p. 189); Of Whales and Men (R.B. Robertson: p. 201); Life on the Mississippi (Twain: p. 214); The Life of Greece (Durant: p. 223); Scott’s Last Expedition (p. 320); Time magazine (p. 323); Merck Manual (p. 346); Human Destiny (LeComte de Nouilly: p. 371); The Wall (Hersey: p. 374).
p. 25: I took the opportunity to copy [naval messages on Operation Deep Freeze] those of interest, somewhat to the annoyance of the ships’ officers, I suppose, who didn’t do that sort of thing. These messages are the source of information about other parts of Operation Deep Freeze, included here from time to time. I am sure that the Navy did not bother to keep these documents in archives, so any copies we civilians made are the only ones preserved. [I have checked NARS and the only documents they preserve from the Wyandot are the daily deck logs. DHS]
p. 61: I had purchased a large selection of paperback books before I left the States and kept them in a makeshift bookcase we made from IGY supplies. In addition, everyone else brought personal books, which we traded around, and the recreation hall was furnished with a good general library. We also had an excellent scientific and Antarctic library in the science building.
p. 62: The Navy men had a very large number of fairly chaste (by 1970s-90s standards) pinups on their walls, whereas the scientists at Ellsworth in 1957 had few or none. Interestingly, the psychologists who interviewed us after the winter discovered that we scientists had a lot more headaches than the Navy personnel! Instead of pinup girls on his wall, one of the Navy men had many cutout ads of whiskey bottles. By the 1980s-90s, with many women in Antarctica, there were few or no pinups of naked women on walls at U.S. stations. [When I visited Ellsworth in early 1958 I was struck by how many Playboy nudes had been cut out and strategically placed among the knobs of the most complicated equipment. DHS]
p. 97: 2 April , Tues. We have the most complete library of Antarctic literature…that I’ve ever seen. All the classics by Scott, Amundsen, Shackleton, Byrd, Ellsworth, and Mawson, in addition to the most up-to-date stuff available. James Cook’s works on the South Pacific (1768-71) (including charts) are also here. There are scientific journals from the past few years. In addition to technical books in all our fields, we have books on ornithology, geography, climatology, photography, and history. German and French dictionaries in addition to Webster’s Collegiate are but a part of the shelf of technical reference handbooks. I only hope I read a part of this. Kevin Walton’s and Jennie Darlington’s books are here but not Ronne’s.
p. 104-05: Jack and I recorded “Damnation of Faust” until 0230 one morning in the rec hall. I printed pictures one Sunday afternoon. I just finished reading the best-written Antarctic book I’ve seen, The Antarctic Problem by E. W. Hunter Christie. It discusses the history of this sector of the continent and the dispute between Chile, Argentina, and Great Britain over competing claims. One night I read Orwell’s Animal Farm before going to sleep.
p. 163: Jack dug out a copy of the Psychology of Abnormal People by J.J.B. Morgan, Ph.D., and began reading aloud…in my opinion, is a pretty good description of Finne Ronne.
p. 201—quotes Robertson’s Of Whales and Men, on pornography, masturbation, and homosexuality.
p. 223: [15 Sept.] I read two books today and started a third. Clint has had a library book, The Life of Greece, a 700-page epic by Will Durant, which I want to read. I asked him when he would finish, and he said probably not before the traverse. I borrowed it for a week but everyone thinks I won’t get it read in that time; it is rather meaty.
p. 231: 29 Sept., Sun. I finished off Life of Greece and started Caesar and Christ, Durant’s book on the Roman era.
p. 296, during their traverse of the Ice Shelf: Still whiteout when I got up at 1130. Ed and I spent the afternoon reading, as it was too white to travel and there was nothing else to do….
p. 301, 10 Nov.: I also finished off Durant’s Caesar and Christ and started another book
p. 302, 12 Nov.: I am going to start Adventures in Ideas by Alfred North Whitehead presently.
p. 315: Cards this afternoon and philosophy reading tonight. Stimulated by my reading of Whitehead, Aug, Paul and I started a discussion of whether there is a God. We didn’t resolve the question.