Wow, sorry for that jaunt down memory lane. But when Holly and Tracy said that they had read today's book for research on their podcast I knew that I was going to pick it up.
In case you aren't familiar with the story, here is the gist.
The town of Nome (in northeastern Alaska) was founded by gold miners who arrived in the early 1800s. By 1925 a lot of the gold miners had fled but the town remained, I think the population was about 10,000 people. A few kids had come down with a scary disease: diptheria. Diptheria kills you by greyish membrane-y splotches form in your mouth and throat and you eventually suffocate. It's apparently often called "the child strangler". This is highly contagious and the one doctor in Nome didn't have enough serum to treat the amount of people that could potentially get sick. The problem was that it was winter and Nome was unable to be reached by water. The two options were by land and by plane. For many reasons, land was the best option.
The antidote was able to get to a city that was 674 miles away from Nome. To get it the rest of the way a series of dog teams were asked to basically do the deadliest relay race that anyone had seen. The man who had the longest leg was a badass Norwegian immigrant named Leonard Sepppala. His lead dog was Togo. Leonard and his team mushed for 91 miles over 4 days in temperatures that were about -30F. They barely cheated death several times. Gunnar Kaasen and his team, lead by Balto had the last leg of the relay. It was snowing so bad that Gunnar was temporarily blinded and relied completely on Balto to lead the whole team to Nome. Which he did.
I seriously could go on and on (the amount of notes I made for this review is a little scary) but I want you to find out more about these heroic men (the youngest was 18) and their efforts to save this town.
This book talks about the mushers, their teams, the horrible conditions that they road through, personality clashes, and stories of other dog teams that illustrate the extreme dangers of making these types of journeys. (Like the story of a musher who went through the ice with some of his dogs, got everyone out but then froze to death trying to light a fire and his lead dog stayed with him and when people found him he was alive but his little paws were frozen to the ground :(
What makes this book so interesting is that it is so multi faceted.You learn about: Native culture, how frontier sounds get established and why some stay around and some don't, being a doctor on the frontier, a scary disease that most people in the world won't die from anymore and almost anything that you need to know about dog sledding. There's even a hint about what to do if you get lost in a snow storm (stay calm and sit your ass down!).This book is the complete package and even though the information about Balto was upsetting to my overly attached self this book is completely worth the read. 4 stars out of 5!