This is one of those amazing non-fiction adventure books, on the level with Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, and Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival. (That’s funny, I just now noticed they all have subtitles. Must somehow be typical of the genre.) I had heard of Balto, but I didn’t know there was a statue of him, and I had never heard the story that made him famous. The Salisburies tell the story expertly, paying due respect to the people and dogs involved, and the utmost respect to the villian, Mother Nature. After reading this book I feel especially fond not of Balto, who crossed the finish line, but more of Togo, the lead dog of the team that logged the most miles of the relay. Every single dog, of course (over 100) and every single driver (around twenty), played their part and deserve credit.
The book contains many incredible stories of these dogs’ feats. For them and their drivers, this was just another day’s work and duty. But to the world, they were doing something extraordinary, braving negative hurts-to-even-think-about temperatures, thin ice and blizzards in order to expedite the delivery of medicine to a community cut off from civilization eight months out of every year. I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turner, and I have even more faith than ever in the intelligence and loyalty of man’s best friend.