Sunday, March 04, 2012
Book Review: The Cruelest Miles
In 1925, a severe diphtheria outbreak threatened to wipe out the town of Nome, Alaska. With aviation in the Arctic still in its infancy stage, the only way to "safely" get the serum to Nome was to entrust sled dog teams to traverse the 1,000 miles through the wilderness. These sled dog teams endured conditions that most of us would find dangerous, but for them it was simply a way of life. As the title implores, they were The Cruelest Miles.
While at the heart of the book is the story of the diphtheria outbreak and the sled dog teams, it also details Alaskan history. It is a history steeped in the love of the wild, endurance, and a willingness to adapt to the land.
The Iditarod which is currently taking place, was started in 1973 to immortalize and preserve the history and accomplishments of the sled dogs and teams of the 1925 run to save the town of Nome.
What I took away from the book was an appreciation of the connection that man has with dogs and the ability to push aside financial compensation for the greater good. There is also truth in that sometimes the best technology is what you have right in front of you.