The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod

Book - 1994
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Paulsen and his team of dogs endured snowstorms, frostbite, dogfights, moose attacks, sleeplessness, and hallucinations in the relentless push to go on. Map and color photographs.
Publisher: New York : Harcourt Brace, c1994.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780156001458
Characteristics: 256 p. ; col. ill. ; 24 cm.
Alternative Title: Winter dance.


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Oct 05, 2015

This is one of the most entertaining books I've ever read. It is laugh-out-loud funny for the most part, with some poignant moments near the end. It's all the more remarkable because it's all true. If you know someone who claims that they don't like to read, give them a copy of this book. They might change their mind. The author is known mostly for his young adult fiction, but this book is non-fiction aimed at all ages.

Sep 20, 2015

The Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly reviews are right on.
From my youth I had heard about the Iditarod and would listen to reports about the progress of the race on NPR and not give it much thought. I thought from reading Jack London and National Geographic and seeing lots of movies and documentaries I had a pretty good idea what it was all about. But after reading Gary Paulsen's book I realize that there is a lot more to it than I thought. If you are interested in learning about sled dogging or getting a behind the scene look at what happens during the Iditarod this is the book for you.
During the early training of the dogs Gary makes many hilarious mistakes including running the dogs at night in the summer and them meeting many skunks which the dogs thought of as snacks Gary gets sprayed repeatedly and his wife makes him sleep in the dog kennel upon his return; be warned if you have ever had any skunk run-ins yourself you might die laughing!
Gary says that his Canadian dogs were just full of hate and they hated everything other dogs people everything. "But they could PULL God how they could pull". Well I don't know anymore about dog sledding than I'm reading in this book and I read in Jack London's White Fang and Call of the Wild but I know something about dogs and I know that the only way a dog becomes full of hate is by being abused. Gary seems to accept that dog mushers will get bitten by their dogs regularly and badly.
I remember well in reading Call of the Wild that London described the once loving dog Buck as full of hate after being kidnapped from his wonderful home in California and shipped to Alaska in a dog crate and as soon as he was released his hate caused him to attack his captor. But this man was experienced in "breaking" dogs and viciously hit Buck on the nose with a club which instantly subdued him. That's how I remember it from the book and was surprised to see in a movie the "breaker" have to hit Buck repeatedly before he surrendered.
I don't know that it can be said for certain that dogs that run the Iditarod and sled dogs in general are being abused. But all dog lovers know that only abused dogs HATE! Gary describes witnessing the tragic murder of a sled dog by his owner; another musher running the race. Gary gives a graphic description of the poor creature being kicked to death. He says if he had had a gun he would have shot the guy right there. It is a travesty of Justice that the man's only punishment was to be disqualified from the race. It seems no charges were filed and maybe it was legal to kick your own dog to death in Alaska in the early 80s. In present day Washington State this creep would be facing some serious prison time.
That aside Gary says that his dogs just got stronger as they ran the race and were having a blast but he took an incredible beating. Bruised from head to toe from his falls down seeming cliffs and being dragged repeatedly.
He didn't just suffer sleeplessness as the review says he actually had severe sleep deprivation. He had vivid hallucinations. Including seeing a beautiful nude woman beckoning to him on the snow. When he explained to her he didn't have time to stop because of the race she ran and jumped on his sled!
Thanks to the revelations about our government's interrogation methods of terrorist suspects we all now know that sleep deprivation can cause heart damage so it may well be that Gary's heart disease was caused at lest in part by having run two Iditarod races though Gary blames frequent second helpings of pork chops as the likely culprit.
If you liked this book and have not yet read "Call of the Wild" and "White Fang" by Jack London you'll definitely want to.


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Jun 07, 2016

Ballet000 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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