Into the Wild Paperback – Aug 21 2007
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"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'tcannotanswer 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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I had already read the book when I purchased this. I just wanted a copy.Published 1 month ago by Christa Keeler
Great purchase. Quick and great condition. As for the book, this is one of the best pieces of investigative journalism in the form of a novel. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Brian
Amazing. Breath-taking and true. Chris was a force to be reckoned with, and I think that Jon Krakauer has done a great job presenting this to readers. Read morePublished 5 months ago by nature ❀ pod