W.W. Norton editor in chief Star Lawrence, who published “The Perfect Storm” and brought bestselling maritime novelist Patrick O’Brian to these shores, has landed another historical tale of derring-do in extreme conditions.
Outbidding 10 publishers, including five alone from the Random House group, Norton paid $550,000 for “Ice Bound,” the true tale of a 674-mile dog-sled journey in 1925, in which 20 Eskimos rushed a diphtheria antidote to Nome, Alaska, during the worst January on record.
The saga, which received international press coverage at the time, is “the single most important event in Alaskan history,” said Susan Rabiner, who repped writers Gay and Laney Salisbury (the two are first cousins) in the deal. The Salisburys’ proposal was such a hot item in New York publishing circles that Rabiner declined five preemptive bids prior to Wednesday’s auction.
The book may ring bells in Hollywood, for the historic trek was also the basis for the Steven Spielberg-produced 1995 toon “Balto.” CAA’s Bob Bookman, who is handling film rights to “Ice Bound,” also began shopping the project Wednesday.