Vodka on Ice
A Year with the Russians in Antarctica
By Charles Swithinbank
175 pages, Illustrated, 6 ½" x 9 ½"
No stranger to the Antarctic, Charles Swithinbank is the only Briton to have
served with the Soviet Antarctic Expedition. From 1963 to 1965 he lived and
worked without a break at Russian stations in the far south. The Cold War was
in full swing and many of his colleagues assumed he had been sent to spy on
them. Yet gradually the barriers were broken down and he encountered many a
colorful character, gaining a fascinating insight into the lives of his Soviet
Several had harrowing tales to tell. One had been a dive-bomber pilot during
the war. Another had steel ribs as a legacy of the battle of Stalingrad, and
had lost part of a leg during the siege of Leningrad. The doctor had been severely
wounded in Stalingrad before recovering to hound the German army westwards through
the Baltic States. Some of the younger Russians had spent the war in Siberia,
working on state farms.
In the course of his stay the author visited the coldest place on Earth, drove
a giant tractor, taught English, attended Communist Party meetings and did his
share of the chores. He describes feasts and everyday fare, borsch and shchi
and fish buns.
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