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February 12, 1995|CHARLES SOLOMON

WINTERDANCE: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen (Harvest/ Harcourt Brace: $10.95; 256 pp., illustrated, paperback original). Despite his better judgment, Paulsen found himself seduced by the Iditarod, the grueling 1,180-mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome. In plain-spoken prose, he recounts his efforts to mold an effective team out of his ill-assorted dogs: One unsuccessful training run involved encounters with six angry skunks. Paulsen describes the special bond between a musher and his dogs and the exhilaration of gliding over the frozen landscape, but balances his enthusiasm with vivid accounts of gale force winds, temperatures of 65 below, hostile animals and drifting sea ice. "Winderdance" is as close as most readers will want to get to the Iditarod.

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