This month, I read The Cruelest Miles by: Gay and Laney Salisbury. This book is about a diphtheria outbreak. In 1925 a disease called diphtheria swept through Nome, Alaska. Diphtheria is a disease that affects more so children than adults. The disease swells the throat making the victim suffocate. Nome, Alaska was very isolated from other civilizations and only receives food, and supplies from ships, and planes during the spring and summer. When the disease hit, it was in the middle of winter so all of the ports and runways were frozen. Many children were getting sick and dying; the government had to act fast. The only way for the antidote to reach Nome was for dogsled teams. The nearest medicine was in US which is more than 3,344 miles away. Dogsled teams set out as well as airplanes to deliver the medicine. The weather was getting down to -80 degrees. In this weather, flying was not an option. Frostbite would dominate any skin showing for more than a minute. Dog sled teams were getting frostbite and dogs were getting torn paws and nails. By the time the dog sled team reached Nome, the disease had swept through most of Nome. Doctors quickly injected patients and the disease lifted within a month. A heroic dog named Balto(the lead dog in the dog team) had been made a statue to recognize his heroism. To this day, there is a dog sled race called “The Great Race Of Mercy” that recognizes the diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska.

This book has many themes such as, every minute counts, always have hope. The outbreak had a tremendous amount of pressure on the sled mushers and dogs. I mean the weather was under freezing and the dogs and mushers were getting frost bite. So every minute counts really works here because they were racing against time and death. Always have hope is what kept the mushers, dogs and towns going. Without the hope of saving someones life, the dogsled team probably wouldn’t have made it. As I said before, there were many valuable themes but, many of them weren’t too meaningful. The dogs had to run in super cold weather to help save people’s lives. The mushers had to choose when to run the dogs and how fast they were going to deliver the antitoxin to Nome. This book was so touching in the sense of someone caring for others and risking their own lives.

This book as I said before was so touching that someone would risk their life to saves hundreds of other lives. As I was reading this book, I kept wondering if the team was going to make it because many chapters were about the weather being below 50 and 80 degrees and the team running in the weather. Other people should read and care about this book because it gives you valuable lessons that you can apply to everyday living such as, helping out in whatever way you can or let others know that you are trying to help them. This book made me feel good about myself in the sense that others are caring about me and that everybody works as a team to get things done. I also think that you should read this book because the facts were so interesting that the book wasn’t one of those boring non-fiction books that just give you facts instead of a story to follow along. I truly loved this book and if you read it, you will too.


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  2. I really liked this post! I think you did a nice job of covering the basics of the story. I really want to read this now because I think I would really like to learn more about this event. One specific thing I learned was that the Disney movie, Balto, was based around a real story. I think I might want to know more about where the dogsled teams traveled from and more about the resolution after the disease ended. I think you would be interested into the story of Shackleton's expedition: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/537375.The_Endurance. I really learned a lot from this post! Keep up the good work.