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Into the Wild Paperback – Aug 21 2007

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Paperback, Aug 21 2007
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reissue edition (Aug. 21 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307387178
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307387172
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (801 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #190,788 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

"God, he was a smart kid..." So why did Christopher McCandless trade a bright future--a college education, material comfort, uncommon ability and charm--for death by starvation in an abandoned bus in the woods of Alaska? This is the question that Jon Krakauer's book tries to answer. While it doesn't—cannot—answer the question with certainty, Into the Wild does shed considerable light along the way. Not only about McCandless's "Alaskan odyssey," but also the forces that drive people to drop out of society and test themselves in other ways. Krakauer quotes Wallace Stegner's writing on a young man who similarly disappeared in the Utah desert in the 1930s: "At 18, in a dream, he saw himself ... wandering through the romantic waste places of the world. No man with any of the juices of boyhood in him has forgotten those dreams." Into the Wild shows that McCandless, while extreme, was hardly unique; the author makes the hermit into one of us, something McCandless himself could never pull off. By book's end, McCandless isn't merely a newspaper clipping, but a sympathetic, oddly magnetic personality. Whether he was "a courageous idealist, or a reckless idiot," you won't soon forget Christopher McCandless. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback 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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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By amazonker on June 10 2004
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ila France Porcher, Author of The Shark Sessions on May 27 2013
Format: Paperback
To avoid repeating what so many others have already said about the facts of this tragic case, I will just say that in my opinion, this book is as much a statement about society as a study of Chris McCandless's ill fated actions.

Jon Krakauer presents a unique and quite fascinating account of the many subtle psychological and sociological factors which may have influenced this unusual young man, and I think he did it very well.

I don't think it is possible to put him into any category. He was true to himself, and above the petty judgments of others, so quick to call him names, who nevertheless fall short of Chris's boundless courage and his idealism.

I believe that in time McCandless will become an icon for other idealistic young men who are sensitive to the call of the wild, and feel the spiritual impoverishment of our society. Many are sensitive to that mystic call.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shopper on April 2 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed all of Jon Krakauer's books, but found this one surprising in its accomplishment of taking what on the surface seems a cut and dried story (foolish idealist from urban environment pursues wilderness adventure completely unprepared and perishes kilometres from civilization), and provides a completely reasonable and unexpected account of the facts and of the character behind the story.
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By Abbyfry on Nov. 8 2007
Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on April 27 2004
Format: Paperback
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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