Some Alaskans reacted contemptuously to Krakauer's magazine article about a young man who starved to death one summer in the shadow of Denali. Chris McCandless was an idealistic fool, they said. He didn't equip himself properly, couldn't tell moose from caribou, didn't know Alaskan rivers become unfordable torrents in the summer melt: hubristic ignorance dictated his fate. Such acid responses won't greet this book-length expansion of the article, a drama constructed deftly enough to earn a place in the canon of American nature writing. First, there is mystery: the emaciated body found in September 1992 in a bus-hut had no identity papers, just a name and a terse diary of final days. Then there is the question of personal identity: What existential longing led the twentysomething McCandless to that bus and at what cost to himself and his family? And finally, there is the majestic stage set of the American Far West, which Krakauer draws on to create his lyrical, mesmerizing testament to McCandless' odyssey. Krakauer starts with the discovery of McCandless' body and works backward, revealing that McCandless graduated from Emory University, severed contact with his family, assumed the alias "Alexander Supertramp," and began two years of vagabondage in search of Truth in living as advocated by Thoreau and Tolstoy, of whose works "Alex" was enamored. His earnestness indelibly impressed the itinerants he easily befriended--whom he, in truth, somewhat callously jettisoned--as Krakauer reveals throughout this sensitive narrative. You Must read the great novel DEAD SCARE and THE KILLING GAME, both by Demello--that is, if you are interested in another wild ride!