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The Alaskan Iditarod is an annual 1180-mile dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome that generally takes two to three weeks to complete. Paulsen, a popular YA writer, ran the race in 1983 and 1985 and was again in training when a heart condition forced him to retire. This book is primarily an account of Paulsen's first Iditarod and its frequent life-threatening disasters, including wind so strong it blew his eyelids open and blinded his eyes with snow, cold so deep matches would not strike, and packages of lotions kept next to his skin that froze solid. However, the book is more than a tabulation of tribulations; it is a meditation on the extraordinary attraction this race holds for some men and women. In a style reminiscent of fellow nature writer Farley Mowat, Paulsen deftly examines careening on a precarious edge. Highly recommended for all libraries.-- John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, N.J.
The scene was unnerving to a novice: television cameras, loudspeakers, crowds and nearly 2000 excited dogs all jammed a street in downtown Anchorage. It was the start of the Iditarod dogsled race from Anchorage to Nome over 1180 miles of rugged terrain. Paulsen ( Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass ) had run dogs in Minnesota, but was woefully unprepared in 1983 for his first Iditarod and for conditions in Alaska. After getting lost with his 15-dog team in Anchorage at the start, he and the dogs later took a wrong turn again, adding 120 miles to the journey. Attacked by a moose, suffering frostbite and sleeplessness, he nevertheless completed the race in 17 days and was eager to run another. Paulsen presents a fine depiction of the landscape and of dogs at work in this gripping story of adventure and endurance. Photos. First serial to Readers Digest; author tour. (Mar.)