RUNNING NORTH by Ann Mariah Cook


A Yukon Adventure
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Another entry in the vast how-I-survived-an-Alaskan-winter literature. Cook and her husband, George, came to the bush on something of a whim: athletes with a fondness for books of adventure travel, they bought as a pet a Siberian husky, began to research the breed’s contribution to polar exploration, and decided to take time off from their lives in the lower 48 to take their dog—and 31 other huskies that they—d acquired—off to do a little exploring of their own. Some of that exploring had to do with understanding the ways of the Alaskans they encountered when, for instance, trying to rent a house, an ordeal of which Cook writes with just a little too much self-pity; some of it had to do with learning to weatherproof their dwelling and vehicles, to dress for the often dreadful weather, to acclimate to loneliness and distance. The real adventure begins somewhat late in the narrative, when the Cooks enter their now well-trained team of dogs in the thousand-mile-long Yukon Quest, billed as the toughest dog-sled race in the world, far more grueling than the more famous Iditarod. Cook’s account of the race is full of grumbling feuds between competing sled-drivers, full of minor misadventures (—George heard the zipping sound of Velcro. Something flew past his face. His mittens!—) and minor triumphs—which is, of course, the way real-life adventures take place. The upshot of the story is that the Cooks finished the race, the first non-Alaskan team to do so. That very real accomplishment is not quite enough to fuel this book, which lacks the punch of other recent adventure-travel titles set in the north country. (Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection)

Pub Date: Oct. 23rd, 1998
ISBN: 1-56512-213-5
Page count: 324pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998