Vodka on Ice
A Year with the Russians in Antarctica

By Charles Swithinbank
November 2002
Book Guild
ISBN: 1857766466
175 pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 9 "
$52.50 Hardcover


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 comrades.

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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