A smorgasbord of real-life adventures, with an often-bittersweet repast of human tragedy.
Alaska is the largest, most punishing state, with weather, water and wilderness that can baffle or destroy even the most experienced flier, boater or hunter. Its vast solitudes have been raw material for writers since Jack London captured our imaginations with his still-haunting epic story "To Build A Fire." Ferrell has collected 30 real stories of heroism in the face of cold and adversity, virtually all from the files of the Alaska governors' awards for heroism of the last several decades. The author is a steady writer, undeterred by bureaucratic description, and she lets the material speak for itself, writing active sentences mercifully free of hyperbole. Look no further than the individual sacrifices made by some rescuers in these tales to know the real meaning of "values." Oddly enough, Ferrell fails to take note of the many accidents or tragedies here that were caused by veteran Alaskans who should have known better--those who ventured out to sea without enough fuel, packed their planes improperly, left without enough lifevests, took off into dangerous winds, or tried to land in a fog bank. Alaska doesn't excuse such chutzpah, even from its natives. Nonetheless, the effect of these stories of heroism in the face of daunting odds--people battling for their lives in 37-degree water or floating for days on ice floes in the Bering Sea--is pleasantly inspiring.
A worthy tribute to those heroes of the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness.