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Into the Wild [Paperback]

Jon Krakauer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (791 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 21 2007

National Bestseller 

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter....

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From Amazon

What would possess a gifted young man recently graduated from college to literally walk away from his life? Noted outdoor writer and mountaineer Jon Krakauer tackles that question in his reporting on Chris McCandless, whose emaciated body was found in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992.

Described by friends and relatives as smart, literate, compassionate, and funny, did McCandless simply read too much Thoreau and Jack London and lose sight of the dangers of heading into the wilderness alone? Krakauer, whose own adventures have taken him to the perilous heights of Everest, provides some answers by exploring the pull the outdoors, seductive yet often dangerous, has had on his own life. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature. Krakauer, a contributing editor to Outside and Men's Journal, retraces McCandless's ill-fated antagonism toward his father, Walt, an eminent aerospace engineer. Krakauer also draws parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father. In a moving narrative, Krakauer probes the mystery of McCandless's death, which he attributes to logistical blunders and to accidental poisoning from eating toxic seed pods. Maps. 35,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The dark side of idealism June 10 2004
Last Christmas I gave this book to my father. I thought he might enjoy the adventures of Alex (though you know from the start his life will end badly), and thought if things went well I might use this to try to explain to him why it is that I spend all my extra money on travel and why I do illogical things in pursuit of my dreams. His reaction, though, was nothing but frustration with Alex's "idiocy."
The difference between my response to the book - that Chris/Alex lived an extreme form of the longing I and many others feel - and my father's response is the same gulf that this story seeks to bridge. Jon Krakauer, who has also sacrificed a great deal and risked his life in pursuit of his dreams, clearly feels some sympathy for Alex's wild decisions. But the result of Alex's tramping is his own death and the heartbreak that ensues, which seems to outweigh any selfish satisfaction Alex may have received from his experiences.
When people create great art or invent something remarkable, society celebrates their achievements in spite of any collateral damage. But Alex is an example of someone whose idealism was far greater than his accomplishments. The art he left behind in his notebooks is unremarkable, and the few friends he made in his travels have not been catalysts for improvement in the world. His one success (or failure) was that he was able to unbind himself from his expected, normal life and give himself wholly to his ideals. So many of us secretly wish that we had the courage to do something similar, and this book forces us to confront that desire. Is the pursuit of a dream a worthwhile end, in and of itself?
There are no clear answers, in this book or in life, but the question is worth asking, no matter whether you see Alex as someone to be admired or throttled.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wild ride! Nov. 8 2007
By Abbyfry
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!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! April 27 2004
By A Customer
The quick pace, interesting story and talented writing-style all made it difficult to put this book down. I've read three of Krakauer's books and enjoyed them all immensely.
I'm not sure what to think of Chris MacCandless and his deadly adventure; my opinions changed frequently while reading about his life. While opinions as to why he chose such a secretive and lonely journey could be debated forever, it was the emotional torture that his parents and family endured that really tugged at my feelings. No matter what his motivation to go alone into the wild (and I do believe some mental instability played into it), there was no excuse not to contact family in even some tiny way. As we can tell from his letters, he had no problem sending communications to even the most casual of acquaintances he met along the road.
We have decided to make this the first book reviewed in a book club that some friends and I have started. I can't wait to hear the ideas and opinions of others. I know there will be much heated debate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A moving sad story March 1 2004
Chris McCandless was an idealistic young man who ventured out into the wilderness alone, made a few mistakes and died. This doesn't seem like much of a story but Krakauer does a wonderful job of reconstructing the last years of McCandless's life and give some insight into this man's motivations.
I personally don't think McCandless was a crazy loner or anything like that. He was a very idealistic man who saw the purity in nature and wanted to be a part of it. This certainly has some appeal to me. I found myself identifying with McCandless quite a bit. I've often felt the urge to split and wander about for a few months. He was quite personable with the people he met on his travels, and he touched the lives of several of the poeple he met.
It is tragic that he died, if he had only had a simple map of the area he would have survived his excursions and been able to return to his life. It seems like he was ready to re-enter the world when he died.
Krakauer tells the stories of other men who have been similarity affected by nature and have traveled into the wild never to return. Despite the tragic ending, I found the book inspiring and I do certainly admire Chris McCandless's courage for leaving behind everything and venturing out for what can only described and a personal adventure with an uncertain ending.
I'd highly recommend this book to anybody, my tiny piece of advice for anybody considering this sort of travel is to get a good map, good boots, a warm coat, and be prepared for anything
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good
Published 20 days ago by ZICHEN QIAN/CLARENCE
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Product was great. Came exactly as they described it would!
Published 2 months ago by ashley
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick delivery and well packed
First of all, I watched the movie first, but always wanted to read this book. As you know, all good movies are based on books, but books have better stories. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Daewoo Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book
Skip the movie and dive right into this book! You won't be disappointed at all. A great story of adventure and sadness. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tyler Dixon
3.0 out of 5 stars Read this for English
It's an interesting non-fiction story about a boy who roams America and meets a very unfortunate fate. Very "relatable" to a certain personality type. Read more
Published 8 months ago by CJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!
I am still reading this book, and it is one of the best short storys i have ever read, I say this because every chapter I am left in tears, it is a touching story and makes you... Read more
Published 9 months ago by naomi bir
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad Sad Sad....
The story is pretty sad....obvious serious family problems, and no where near enough experience and knowledge to have even contemplated something of this magnitude. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ninja1000man
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book
Jon Krakauer has written a book that even though it is short.........tells an interesting story about a young mans journey. Though it is is well written. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Heather
5.0 out of 5 stars Book is amazing
I loved it, as well as the film. It's an inspiring read, and very self-empowering. The whole thing is based on a true story, yet it seems to be thought out fictionally. Read more
Published 11 months ago by goon
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie and Even Better Book
Very compelling story. Times of tears and hope. Book is better than the movie but the movie is still great Id recommend both. It was the movie that made me want to read it. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Tricia
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