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Publisher's Summary

When Johnson went to work for the US Antarctic Program (devoted to scientific research and education in support of the national interest in the Antarctic), he figured he'd find adventure, beauty, penguins, and lofty-minded scientists. Instead he found boredom, alcohol, and bureaucracy.

As a dishwasher and garbage man at McMurdo Station, Johnson quickly shed his illusions about Antarctica. Since he and his coworkers seldom ventured beyond the station's grim, functional buildings, they spent most of their time finding ways to entertain themselves, drinking beer, bowling, and making home movies. The dormlike atmosphere, complete with sexual hijinks and obscene costume parties, sometimes made life there feel like "a cheap knock-off of some original meaty experience".

What dangers there were existed mostly in the psychological realm; most people who were there through the winter developed the "Antarctica stare", an unnerving tendency to forget what they were saying midsentence and gaze dumbly at the station walls. And if the cold and isolation didn't drive one crazy, the petty hatreds and mindless red tape might. Though occasionally rambling and uneven, this memoir offers an insider's look at a place that few people know anything about and fewer still have ever seen.

©2005 Nicholas Johnson (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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)

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Disappointing ... Narrator ruined a good story

What would have made Big Dead Place better?

Aaron Abano had a really odd way of reading. I made it to chapter 4 and gave up.

How could the performance have been better?

Different Narrator

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Interested in the story but could get to the end because of the narrator and gave up.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • P.W.ARDAGH
  • 04-10-17

Been there and loved the account

Would love to meet (communicate with) the author - was there in 78-79 (Erebus) to compare and question and delight in shared memories
Patrick
ardaghp@xtra.co.nz