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The story is about Bill Williams, half Irish, half Athabaskan Indian who leaves his native village after a disastrous bear hunt, works on a Yukon Riverboat, searches for gold, helps build the AlCan Highway and goes to war in 1942. Surviving the Battle of the Bulge, he returns to find the village sterile, his girlfriend married to his brother, and the lifestyle not conducive to one who has fought a war through Belgium and Germany. He moves to Anchorage where, after a series of mishaps, he becomes a derelict, suffers alcoholism, unemployment, and homelessness. The untimely death of his dominating brother causes the widow, a woman he has waited for all his life, to give him a second big chance at love, life, and happiness, and shoves him into the Last Great Race on Earth, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

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