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Product Description

Krakauer’s page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning." — New York Times

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. 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. How Christopher Johnson McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless''s short life. Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the drives and desires that propelled McCandless. 

When McCandless''s innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless''s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer''s stoytelling blaze through every page.

Amazon.com Review

"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 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 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.

Review

"A narrative of arresting force.  Anyone who ever fancied wandering off to face nature on its own harsh terms should give a look.  It''s gripping stuff."
-- Washington Post

"Compelling and tragic...Hard to put down."  
-- San Francisco Chronicle

"Engrossing...with a telling eye for detail, Krakauer has captured the sad saga of a stubborn, idealistic young man."
-- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"It may be nonfiction, but Into the Wild is a mystery of the highest order."
-- Entertainment Weekly

From the Publisher

"Terrifying...Eloquent...A heart-rending drama of human yearning."
--New York Times

"A narrative of arresting force. Anyone who ever fancied wandering off to face nature on its own harsh terms should give a look. It''s gripping stuff."
--Washington Post

"Compelling and tragic...Hard to put down."
--San Francisco Chronicle

"Engrossing...with a telling eye for detail, Krakauer has captured the sad saga of a stubborn, idealistic young man."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"It may be nonfiction, but Into the Wild is a mystery of the highest order."
--Entertainment Weekly

From the Inside Flap

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. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless''s short life. Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless. Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

When McCandless''s innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless''s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity , and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer''s stoytelling blaze through every page.

From the Back Cover

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. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of "Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless''s short life. Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the dries and desires that propelled McCandless. Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.
When McCandless''s innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversibleand fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naivete, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless''s uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, "Into the Wild is a "tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer''s stoytelling blaze through every page.

About the Author

Jon Krakauer is the author of eight books and has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. According to the award citation, "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer." 

www.jonkrakauer.com

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

THE ALASKA INTERIOR

April 27th, 1992

Greetings from Fairbanks! This is the last you shall hear from me, Wayne. Arrived here 2 days ago. It was very difficult to catch rides in the Yukon Territory. But I finally got here.

Please return all mail I receive to the sender. It might be a very long time before I return South. If this adventure proves fatal and you don''t ever hear from me again I want you to know you''re a great man. I now walk into the wild. --Alex.

(Postcard received by Wayne Westerberg in Carthage, South Dakota.)


Jim Gallien had driven four miles out of Fairbanks when he spotted the hitchhiker standing in the snow beside the road, thumb raised high, shivering in the gray Alaska dawn. He didn''t appear to be very old: eighteen, maybe nineteen at most. A rifle protruded from the young man''s backpack, but he looked friendly enough; a hitchhiker with a Remington semiautomatic isn''t the sort of thing that gives motorists pause in the forty-ninth state. Gallien steered his truck onto the shoulder and told the kid to climb in.

The hitchhiker swung his pack into the bed of the Ford and introduced himself as Alex. "Alex?" Gallien responded, fishing for a last name.

"Just Alex," the young man replied, pointedly rejecting the bait. Five feet seven or eight with a wiry build, he claimed to be twenty-four years old and said he was from South Dakota. He explained that he wanted a ride as far as the edge of Denali National Park, where he intended to walk deep into the bush and "live off the land for a few months."

Gallien, a union electrician, was on his way to Anchorage, 240 miles beyond Denali on the George Parks Highway; he told Alex he''d drop him off wherever he wanted. Alex''s backpack looked as though it weighed only twenty-five or thirty pounds, which struck Gallien--an accomplished hunter and woodsman--as an improbably light load for a stay of several months in the backcountry, especially so early in the spring. "He wasn''t carrying anywhere near as much food and gear as you''d expect a guy to be carrying for that kind of trip," Gallien recalls.

The sun came up. As they rolled down from the forested ridges above the Tanana River, Alex gazed across the expanse of windswept muskeg stretching to the south. Gallien wondered whether he''d picked up one of those crackpots from the lower forty-eight who come north to live out ill-considered Jack London fantasies. Alaska has long been a magnet for dreamers and misfits, people who think the unsullied enormity of the Last Frontier will patch all the holes in their lives. The bush is an unforgiving place, however, that cares nothing for hope or longing.

"People from Outside," reports Gallien in a slow, sonorous drawl, "they''ll pick up a copy of Alaska magazine, thumb through it, get to thinkin'' ''Hey, I''m goin'' to get on up there, live off the land, go claim me a piece of the good life.'' But when they get here and actually head out into the bush--well, it isn''t like the magazines make it out to be. The rivers are big and fast. The mosquitoes eat you alive. Most places, there aren''t a lot of animals to hunt. Livin'' in the bush isn''t no picnic."

It was a two-hour drive from Fairbanks to the edge of Denali Park. The more they talked, the less Alex struck Gallien as a nutcase. He was congenial and seemed well educated. He peppered Gallien with thoughtful questions about the kind of small game that live in the country, the kinds of berries he could eat--"that kind of thing."

Still, Gallien was concerned. Alex admitted that the only food in his pack was a ten-pound bag of rice. His gear seemed exceedingly minimal for the harsh conditions of the interior, which in April still lay buried under the winter snowpack. Alex''s cheap leather hiking boots were neither waterproof nor well insulated. His rifle was only .22 caliber, a bore too small to rely on if he expected to kill large animals like moose and caribou, which he would have to eat if he hoped to remain very long in the country. He had no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass. The only navigational aid in his possession was a tattered state road map he''d scrounged at a gas station.

A hundred miles out of Fairbanks the highway begins to climb into the foothills of the Alaska Range. Alex pulled out his crude map and pointed to a dashed red line that intersected the road near the coal-mining town of Healy. It represented a route called the Stampede Trail. Seldom traveled, it isn''t even marked on most road maps of Alaska. On Alex''s map, nevertheless, the broken line meandered west from the Parks Highway for forty miles or so before petering out in the middle of trackless wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. This, Alex announced to Gallien, was where he intended to go.

Gallien thought the hitchhiker''s scheme was foolhardy and tried repeatedly to dissuade him: "I said the hunting wasn''t easy where he was going, that he could go for days without killing any game. When that didn''t work, I tried to scare him with bear stories. I told him that a twenty-two probably wouldn''t do anything to a grizzly except make him mad. Alex didn''t seem too worried. ''I''ll climb a tree'' is all he said. So I explained that trees don''t grow real big in that part of the state, that a bear could knock down one of them skinny little black spruce without even trying. But he wouldn''t give an inch. He had an answer for everything I threw at him."

Gallien offered to drive Alex all the way to Anchorage, buy him some decent gear, and then drive him back to wherever he wanted to go.

"No, thanks anyway,"Alex replied, "I''ll be fine with what I''ve got."

Gallien asked whether he had a hunting license.

"Hell, no," Alex scoffed. "How I feed myself is none of the government''s business. Fuck their stupid rules."

When Gallien asked whether his parents or a friend knew what he was up to--whether there was anyone who would sound the alarm if he got into trouble and was overdue Alex answered calmly that no, nobody knew of his plans, that in fact he hadn''t spoken to his family in nearly two years. "I''m absolutely positive," he assured Gallien, "I won''t run into anything I can''t deal with on my own."

"There was just no talking the guy out of it," Gallien remembers. "He was determined. Real gung ho. The word that comes to mind is excited. He couldn''t wait to head out there and get started."

Three hours out of Fairbanks, Gallien turned off the highway and steered his beat-up 4 x 4 down a snow-packed side road. For the first few miles the Stampede Trail was well graded and led past cabins scattered among weedy stands of spruce and aspen. Beyond the last of the log shacks, however, the road rapidly deteriorated. Washed out and overgrown with alders, it turned into a rough, unmaintained track.

In summer the road here would have been sketchy but passable; now it was made unnavigable by a foot and a half of mushy spring snow. Ten miles from the highway, worried that he''d get stuck if he drove farther, Gallien stopped his rig on the crest of a low rise. The icy summits of the highest mountain range in North America gleamed on the southwestern horizon.

Alex insisted on giving Gallien his watch, his comb, and what he said was all his money: eighty-five cents in loose change. "I don''t want your money," Gallien protested, "and I already have a watch."

"If you don''t take it, I''m going to throw it away," Alex cheerfully retorted. "I don''t want to know what time it is. I don''t want to know what day it is or where I am. None of that matters."

Before Alex left the pickup, Gallien reached behind the seat, pulled out an old pair of rubber work boots, and persuaded the boy to take them. "They were too big for him," Gallien recalls. "But I said, ''Wear two pair of socks, and your feet ought to stay halfway warm and dry.''"

"How much do I owe you?"

"Don''t worry about it," Gallien answered. Then he gave the kid a slip of paper with his phone number on it, which Alex carefully tucked into a nylon wallet.

"If you make it out alive, give me a call, and I''ll tell you how to get the boots back to me."

Gallien''s wife had packed him two grilled-cheese-and-tuna sandwiches and a bag of corn chips for lunch; he persuaded the young hitchhiker to accept the food as well. Alex pulled a camera from his backpack and asked Gallien to snap a picture of him shouldering his rifle at the trailhead. Then, smiling broadly, he disappeared down the snow-covered track. The date was Tuesday, April 28, 1992.

Gallien turned the truck around, made his way back to the Parks Highway, and continued toward Anchorage. A few miles down the road he came to the small community of Healy, where the Alaska State Troopers maintain a post. Gallien briefly considered stopping and telling the authorities about Alex, then thought better of it. "I figured he''d be OK," he explains. "I thought he''d probably get hungry pretty quick and just walk out to the highway. That''s what any normal person would do."

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4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
8,655 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Wasted time.
Reviewed in the United States on January 20, 2019
This book although eloquent and detailed is a waste of time and effort. Nothing is to be gained from reading it except seeing the foolishness of eccentric brilliant individuals. Five minutes in the Bible is worth more than five years in this book.
82 people found this helpful
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Doreen Appleton
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Bizarre
Reviewed in the United States on September 25, 2018
Unsettling story of a brilliant but eccentric young man, who, after graduating summa cum laude from Emory University, burned all his money, abandoned his family, hit the road as a wanderer (“Alexander Supertramp”) and ended up dead of starvation in an abandoned bus deep in... See more
Unsettling story of a brilliant but eccentric young man, who, after graduating summa cum laude from Emory University, burned all his money, abandoned his family, hit the road as a wanderer (“Alexander Supertramp”) and ended up dead of starvation in an abandoned bus deep in Alaska.
Opinions differ as to his lack of preparedness, his impulsiveness, his sanity. Most Alaskans dismiss him as a greenhorn who got what he deserved. Some allow that he showed considerable courage.
Krakauer identifies with him and even goes so far as to bore us with his own early adventures, which is uncalled for.
In the end we really don’t understand how a rational person, however young, could behave in this way. His actions are not those of a normal person, but rather a person with a character disorder.
And there are grounds for this. His discovery that his father had two families and had lied to him all his life was what set him off. It could be argued that the unconscious motive behind his crazy peregrinations was revenge.
Freud tells us that the ego could ever muster enough hate for itself to commit suicide, but the hate has to be directed outside at someone else and then turned against the self.
In this case his father and the family he abandoned contemptuously. “They’re a bunch of idiots.”
This is one explanation, not the only explanation. McCandless was a complex character, full of contradictions that ultimately cost him his life.
56 people found this helpful
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DJG
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Two sides to the story
Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2019
The author did an excellent job doing research for this true story has a definite flare for words. But there are two sides to his story and I take the opposite side (as Krakauer admits many people have taken). My ''low'' three star rating comes from my aggravation in... See more
The author did an excellent job doing research for this true story has a definite flare for words. But there are two sides to his story and I take the opposite side (as Krakauer admits many people have taken). My ''low'' three star rating comes from my aggravation in seeing the story''s subject, Christopher McCandless, essentially being portrayed as a hero type. Yes you do want to root for Christopher and see him succeed. But at almost every turn Christopher does something foolish to prevent his success. This is contrary to what you would expect from a person as smart as Christopher is portrayed. I do feel that many people will enjoy Into the Wild. I did enjoy parts of this story but did not find it a pleasant read overall.
37 people found this helpful
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Christian
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Never hated a book more.
Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2020
One of the worse books I have ever been to read. The story of an ungrateful, entitled spoiled white kid who abandons everything (including giving away and burning money), in an vain attempt to get back at his parents for human errors and failings. Just hated it from start... See more
One of the worse books I have ever been to read. The story of an ungrateful, entitled spoiled white kid who abandons everything (including giving away and burning money), in an vain attempt to get back at his parents for human errors and failings. Just hated it from start to finish as well as the authors obvious bias en favor of this nonsense that this man out his family through. There as sooooo many other stories of people that never get told, but this spoiled white boy gets a book. Disgraceful
27 people found this helpful
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Tracey Swafford
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Biography
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2016
This book gave a great insight of the path Chris McCandless''s troubled life took. I watched the movie "Into The Wild" a few years back and have always been curious and saddened to think about Chris''s journey. This book seemed to clear the story a bit. Sometimes I had a... See more
This book gave a great insight of the path Chris McCandless''s troubled life took.
I watched the movie "Into The Wild" a few years back and have always been curious and saddened to think about Chris''s journey. This book seemed to clear the story a bit. Sometimes I had a lump in my throat thinking that this is not a "character" in a made up story but a real life that seemed to yearn for a peace that only existed in his heart. Jon Krakauer does a great job of giving us a key hole view of "Alex''s" life. The good times even when he had nothing. I personally feel like unfortunately Chris was a troubled individual weather it was mental imbalance or emotional disconnect and after this book I feel so sad for his torment. The movie left me disliking his parents, but this book turned that emotion completely around. And I loved the Epilogue. Thank you Jon Krakauer for that. If the movie intrigued you most definitely read the book.
77 people found this helpful
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Mel
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A must read!
Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2019
I read this book when it first came out in the late 90''s I believe. From that first moment I read it, I knew Chris would forever be in my life. I have read it probably 20 times over the years. Raising 2 sons & being outdoor people ourselves it really hit my soul. His... See more
I read this book when it first came out in the late 90''s I believe. From that first moment I read it, I knew Chris would forever be in my life. I have read it probably 20 times over the years. Raising 2 sons & being outdoor people ourselves it really hit my soul. His bravery, tenacity, willpower & sometimes blind abandon inspired me but also was a bit of a cautionary tale. We have always taught our sons to be prepared & to use common sense. It''s the small things you neglect that lead down the trail to complete failure, even death. A sad tale but many times of happiness too.
30 people found this helpful
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Mar Twain
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I like to stick to straight up fiction genres
Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2016
Normally, I like to stick to straight up fiction genres, and I always had this idea that nonfiction also meant non-interesting. However, Jon Krakauer''s compelling novel "Into the Wild" quickly reversed that misconception. This is one of the easiest stories, in any... See more
Normally, I like to stick to straight up fiction genres, and I always had this idea that nonfiction also meant non-interesting. However, Jon Krakauer''s compelling novel "Into the Wild" quickly reversed that misconception. This is one of the easiest stories, in any genre that I''ve read, to get involved in, and I never once found myself bored with the book.

"Into the Wild" is the story of Christopher McCandless and his unique journey into the depths of the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer makes you really empathize with the troubled young protagonist, and does an excellent job balancing the narrative with his own personal anecdotes. It is abundantly clear that the author is well-versed in both the story and the whole hiking/outdoors culture, and his knowledge helps add to the book. The writing is very direct, but still managed to capture my emotions and keep me engrossed in the story. The story itself would be incredible without all these other elements, but I really felt like Krakauer''s talents elevated the book from just an interesting account to a fantastic piece of literature.

Even though the book was suggested to me because of my love of hiking, I found that the human element of "Into the Wild" was what kept me reading and enjoying it. Overall, you''d be hard pressed to find a better piece of nonfiction out there.

Highly recommended
48 people found this helpful
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Emily Bryant
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Better than the film
Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2017
Much better than the film of the same title.

Whether you think the subject of this novel died due to his own stupidity and hubris or of a simple mistake while he was making a noble, philosophical pilgrimage, this book is gripping and fascinating.
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Top reviews from other countries

Kindleworm Dot Com
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A wonderfully portrayed book of how a tragedy came to be...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 5, 2019
I enjoyed watching the film, a rarity for me, so when this came up on a Kindle deal for 99p i didn’t hesitate. After watching the film i was of the mind that Chris McCandless was a total idiot, as apparently were most of the people who heard the basic story of his demise....See more
I enjoyed watching the film, a rarity for me, so when this came up on a Kindle deal for 99p i didn’t hesitate. After watching the film i was of the mind that Chris McCandless was a total idiot, as apparently were most of the people who heard the basic story of his demise. But was it fair on him to be portrayed in that way? I wanted to know a bit more. Jon was the reporter who first brought this story to the world in an article he was asked to write for ‘Outdoor Magazine’. But he knew he hadn’t done the story justice in the time constraints that he’d had to get that article written, so he went back over the whole story and wrote this book. And this book really does put things into context. One thing the film doesn’t cover is the childhood that Chris and his sister suffered under a domineering, controlling, and oft times abusive, father who demanded excellence all the time, and when Chris found out the truth about his father’s excellence — how Chris and his sister came to be born — i think something really snapped inside him. He just wanted to be free of everything his father represented, to get as far away from it as possible — and having been bought up by a father like that who i had to escape from at 15 years old into my own wilderness, i can’t blame Chris whatsoever for being like he was and doing what he did, in fact, i totally understand. As to the writing, this story is incredibly well thought out and presented and really does put a lot of Chris’ behaviour and attitude into a much broader perspective than a film could ever hope to get to. So if you have watched the film then please don’t just stop with that view of Chris, i don’t think that’s fair. Take a little while, read this book and get to see a much wider picture of Chris McCandless.
24 people found this helpful
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CathyR
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Thought provoking tale
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 13, 2016
I listened to the audio version of this book and Philip Franklin does a great job with the narration. I haven’t read Jon Krakauer before and I enjoyed the author’s writing style and the gradual unfolding of Chris McCandless’ story. I’d never heard of Chris McCandless before...See more
I listened to the audio version of this book and Philip Franklin does a great job with the narration. I haven’t read Jon Krakauer before and I enjoyed the author’s writing style and the gradual unfolding of Chris McCandless’ story. I’d never heard of Chris McCandless before this and I found the story fascinating, tragic and scarcely credible in parts. If this had been fiction I can imagine the reader or listener berating the ‘hero’ for his lack of foresight and preparation before embarking on such a dangerous and uncertain journey. Jon Krakauer explores Chris’ McCandless’s life, and death, through his family, Chris’ own notes, photographs and letters, plus the people he met on his travels, most of whom felt a compelling pull towards the young man and came to love him. Basically, I’m not sure what to think. Here’s a highly academically intelligent young man who had a privileged upbringing, protesting strongly against world hunger and the wastage of food. He was angry at his father who lead a double life for several years, which is understandable. Perhaps it was a combination of these things, coupled with the books he was fond of reading by authors such as Jack London, Tolstoy and Thoreau to name just a few, which fired his imagination and passions for the idea of travel and survival in remote and unforgiving areas, ultimately the wilderness. He believed a person should own nothing apart from whatever they could carry. No longer would he answer to Chris McCandless; he was now Alexander Supertramp, master of his own destiny. The story begins on April 27th, 1992 as Chris, or Alex as he now calls himself, is hitching from Fairbanks, Alaska and is offered a lift by Jim Gallien. He wants a ride to the edge of Denali National Park so he can just walk into the bush and live off the land for a few months. Chris’ death was a tragedy which could have been avoided if he’d prepared for his stay in the wilds of Alaska with practicality and learned enough about endurance in such a harsh environment. That he chose not to, shows a lack of common sense, an underestimation of the wilderness and what it takes to survive. Chris’ idealism and intensity caused a tremendous amount of hurt and suffering. It seems he had no thought of how his lack of communication would affect his parents, Walt and Billie, and Carine, the sister he supposedly loved. I can only imagine how distraught his family must have been during the whole time Chris was missing from their lives. Then, to learn he died in such dreadful circumstances had to have been beyond devastating. During the course of the narrative Jon Krakauer does an impressive job of delving into the mindset of adventurers drawn to the ‘call of the wild’, including himself. It’s apparent, and understandable, that he feels a fascination for, and identifies with, Chris McCandless, given the parallels between their lives. He doesn’t claim to be an impartial biographer, quite the opposite. I don’t, however, agree with the view that Chris’ mistakes were innocent ones. He deliberately went into the Alaskan wilderness rashly, unprepared and without the basic necessities or any kind of reserve or support should he find himself in an emergency situation, despite all advice to the contrary. In the end, Chris lived his life the way he wanted to, mostly isolated from people and minus the pointless, as he saw it, trappings of a materialistic society, and paid the ultimate price. It’s still a very sad end to such a short life. I found the recounting of the last few weeks of his life, via the journals he kept, very poignant. Especially since it seems Chris was ready to return to civilisation and, had he possessed the relevant map and knowledge, would more than likely have made it. Jon Krakauer’s theory on the cause of Chris’ death seems the most reasonable explanation and makes a lot of sense. I’ll be checking out more of this author’s work.
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Ashok Krishna
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beautiful book for anyone that loves questions of an existential nature!
Reviewed in India on February 7, 2017
“Youth is wasted on the Young!” - The great GB Shaw opined thus. ‘Into The Wild’ is the tale of a young man on whom youth was wasted. Wasted but not thrown away. Christopher Walt McCandless was a young man that went into the Alaskan wild, leaving his parents and siblings...See more
“Youth is wasted on the Young!” - The great GB Shaw opined thus. ‘Into The Wild’ is the tale of a young man on whom youth was wasted. Wasted but not thrown away. Christopher Walt McCandless was a young man that went into the Alaskan wild, leaving his parents and siblings behind, donating all his savings, abandoning his car, possessions and even burning whatever little money he had in his wallet, thus shaking away the shackles of financial security. He went away from the human civilization not because he was a glum recluse or a misanthropist. He was just one of those innumerable youngsters who feel that the answers to the testing questions of Life can be found only far away from Life and not by being in it on a day-to-day basis. With evidently little preparation but abundant confidence that is the trademark of Youth, Chris headed into the Alaskan wilderness determined to make a living ‘off the land’, by hunting and eating whatever he could gather there, far away from the nearest human being. Little would he have known that this would be his last venture away from his family, because his lifeless body was found in emaciated state, four months after he went in. There are so many arguments already about whether Chris was right or wrong, wise or foolish and so on and hence I will cut them all out from my review. What stood out for me from this tale were a few things. Chris wasn’t impudent or headstrong. Ask any youngster about what his idea of a wildest adventure is and he will tell you about living untethered. Having had ideas of traveling across the country myself, alone in my bike, I could vouch for the forces that could have pushed Chris onwards. Add to that the ideals of authors like Henry David Thoreau and Jack London who happened to be the favorites of Chris, the impressionable young mind of McCandless had all the ingredients to leave on the wild seeking. Of course, Chris had issues with his parents and their ways of life, as any normal teenager would. His father’s being bigamous aggravated things a lot too. But it didn’t make Chris a bitter person. As everyone who met Chris during his self-imposed exile would vouch for, Chris was an intelligent, amiable, ideal and hardworking young man. He wasn’t suicidal, because if he was, he could have simply jumped off a bridge or a cliff. He was just experimental about life in his own way and he wanted to simply relish the freedom of living ‘off the grid’. His notes and the concise journal entries during his last few days of life prove that he never went in there to simply die. As Jon proves beyond doubt, Chris lost his life to food-poisoning and starvation, having been cut off from his return to the safety of civilization by a flooded river. Jon has done a beautiful job by not completely idolizing Chris. Jon presents the experiences of people who met Chris during his sojourn across North America and none of them have anything negative to tell about Chris. That was not just because he was dead, but because he was indeed good. Jon also shares his own personal experience of being stuck in a cold cliff during his own arrogant attempt to scale a peak, as a result of which he could relate with Chris easily. This is a simple and beautiful book for anyone that loves questions of an existential nature. You may love Chris or hate him for the waste of a young life, but you cannot deny the fact that each and every one of us has a ‘Chris’ inside. Some of us have managed to smother ‘him’ by heaping our day-to-day responsibilities and concerns atop, but all of us have a Chris straining at the leash, wanting to run far, very far away from all this maddening crowd of life!
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Bridgey
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Interesting account but a little dragged out.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 24, 2020
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer *** I had never heard of Chris McCandless or seen the film when I came across this book. For me, just striding out into the wilderness has to be the ultimate adventure and to try and piece together his final days before he eventually succumbed...See more
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer *** I had never heard of Chris McCandless or seen the film when I came across this book. For me, just striding out into the wilderness has to be the ultimate adventure and to try and piece together his final days before he eventually succumbed to hunger and the elements. The author of the book originally discovered the story whilst working as a reporter and published a story in a magazine, but later decided he wanted to research further and release a book. It follows the life of Chris who to be honest doesn''t exactly come across as a particularly nice person and seems at time arrogant. But he is a young man with his own path to lead. He treks across America pretty much as a loner until he decides to tackles the Alaskan wilderness. Various ''friends'' are interviewed that he met on his travels and bit by bit we build up a picture of Chris and routes taken. I enjoyed the book, however I''m not sure it wouldn''t have been better as a more of an extended essay rather than a full novel, sometimes I just felt as if there was too much filler to try and pad out the pages. Obviously the author has done his research and this shines through, it is just that the book failed to interest me as much as I''d hoped.
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Lord Bage
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Will written and interesting!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 19, 2017
JK writes this epic tale with the knowledge of someone that has done their research, knows their topic and has at least some inkling of what Chris was feeling and trying to do. He''s taken risks himself, albeit more calculated ones and clearly with better odds attached. This...See more
JK writes this epic tale with the knowledge of someone that has done their research, knows their topic and has at least some inkling of what Chris was feeling and trying to do. He''s taken risks himself, albeit more calculated ones and clearly with better odds attached. This book was a pleasure to read, CMcC was an adventurer, a man who baulked at the idea of living in a stone house surrounded by technology, other people and living a comfortable and convenient life - he yearned for the solace of a lonely life and felt better connected to the wilds of Alaska than any WiFi. Was he ill-prepared? I think so. Idealistic and maybe a little naive? Possibly. But the gamble for CMcC was worth it, unfortunately, it didn''t pay off!
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