Mason has put in time on the ice as a Navy journalist, and he includes here a personal account of near-disaster resulting from an off-limits Christmas Day caper. There are also, early on, some first-hand observations of life at McMurdo. The segregation of enlisted men from officers and civilians in the new dining halls detracts from the old esprit de corps; food becomes important with little to do, but cooking is a challenge--one man's meringue pie exploded after 30 seconds because of the action of baking powder at the high altitude; the Navy's ""inept"" psychological screening is ""not particularly effective"" against winter depression when only 70 of McMurdo's 800 residents remain. The rest is familiar--a survey of Antarctic life (especially penguins, seals, and krill) and a rehash of Antarctic history from disputes over first sightings and the races of early explorers to the gratifying international co-operation of IGY and subsequent scientific exploration. And Mason's prose, while competent, is not much liverlier than the format. Acceptable coverage.