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Paperback Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica Book

ISBN: 0922915997

ISBN13: 9780922915996

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

Johnson's savagely funny [book] is a grunt's-eye view of fear and loathing, arrogance and insanity in a dysfunctional, dystopian closed community. It's like M*A*S*H on ice, a bleak, black comedy."-- The Times of London


Format: Paperback

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Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Legends of Ice and Bureaucracy

Anyone approaching this book as a sociological critique of human mores in an extreme environment is looking for a different book. Oh, there's plenty of sociology, plenty of critique, and plenty examples of human mores in an extreme environment; but these are the simple byproduct of an intelligent man's opening his eyes and recording what he sees as an Antarctic contract/wage worker. On the bounds of journalism, not quite Gonzo, not quite straight reportage, the author manages to weave enough Antarctic lore, daily observation, and well-researched history into the narrative, so that the reader is ever mindful of the locale. This alone is a feat of work, for at times one would swear from the corporate shenanigans at the Bottom of the World that this was written as a script for the movie version of "The Office," and rejected for being too real. The end result--as is the case with most accounts of human bureaucracy in a sublimely inappropriate venue--is hilarity. Think of it as a Monty Python sketch on a continental scale, funded by the American government, subcontracted to an arms manufacturer, and played by a diverse cast of world citizens who can never escape the moral of the story: that things just aren't fair.

Original and a fun read

For every scientist stationed in Antarctica, there are five support crew including dish washers and trash men. Luckily for us the author, Nicholas Johnson, was among them. Johnson's story is an insider's view of life on the bottom of the planet for those of us who will probably never make it to the South Pole (which may be a good thing, after reading about the frosty welcome tourists get from the "polies"). The author combines hilarious anecdotes about day-to-day life with the history of the continent's exploration. The photo of the Easter Island snowman alone is worth the price of the book.

You will enjoy this book. I promise.

Big Dead Place is a great combination of Antarctic history and Antarctic humor. It's fascinating to see that a place that could be described as an icy hell has somehow become a beaurocratic one as well. While the tone of the book is lighthearted, with an emphasis on humor, it's clear that Johnson cares deeply about Antarctica. This book gave me a great insight into Antarctica, one that I doubt I could have gotten elsewhere; it did so whilst being funny! If you get this book, you will be entertained and you will learn something about what is probably the strangest place on the planet. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Odd personalities and non-heroic moments permeating the wonderful read

Antarctica has assumed an aura of mystique and romance given all the focus on Antarctic explorers and adventure; so it's refreshing to see quite a different - even funny - view of the place which demolishes the mystique and entertains a more realistic, modern view in Big Dead Place: Inside The Strange & Menacing World Of Antarctica. Envision sterile buildings housing nuts - such as a manager who fills his boots with antifreeze - and you have an idea of the odd personalities and non-heroic moments permeating the wonderful read which is Big Dead Place.
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