Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of by Nicholas Johnson

By Nicholas Johnson

Johnson’s savagely humorous [book] is a grunt’s-eye view of worry and loathing, vanity and madness in a dysfunctional, dystopian closed group. It’s like M*A*S*H on ice, a bleak, black comedy.”—The Times of London

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Extra info for Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica

Example text

Around this time, we learned that one of our best friends had died on a platform in the Northern seas, and Rolf and I went into almost total breakdown. A Dutch cargo ship offered us a lift but NSF, wanting to make an example of us to other expeditioners, pressured the Dutch not to accommodate us, after which NSF offered us a flight to New Zealand for a fee of $50,000. I learned a lot about bureaucracy at the American station. S. where they, as the author would probably express it, “sure as shit” don’t know what happens in far away Antarctica, making it impossible for “leaders” with National Geographic hats to make sensible decisions.

The only other supplies were those scattered around the Cape Evans hut by Sir Robert Scott on his doomed expedition to the Pole a few years earlier. The treeless continent provides no firewood. Sir Ernest Shackleton, intending to cross Antarctica from the opposite coast on foot, had sent the Aurora expedition to lay depots of food and fuel in a route across the far side of the continent. Distracted from his task when his ship, Endurance, was crushed in the ice, Shackleton and his small crew spent the next few years hopping ice floes and gobbling wildlife until he crossed the ocean in a puny boat, scaled cliffs on a remote southern island, and then strolled into a whaling station to ask for assistance.

Because some of the AGO sites have sastrugi—wind-formed ice ridges—as tall as a copy machine, groomers are frequently thrown from the machines. Groomers can break arms or crash through windshields. Their field kits include Vicodin. ” Señor X was to go to AGO 1 in a few weeks with a science tech named Jordan. Jordan was from a prestigious university. Señor X’s boss was a little worried about Jordan going into the field because Jordan had recently asked at a preparatory meeting if there were showers at the remote AGO sites.

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