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The Call of the Wild (Classics Illustrated (New York, N.Y.), No. 10.) Paperback – May, 1990

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—In this new audiobook edition, London's classic adventure story (originally pubished in 1903) presents a vivid exploration of a world that will not be too familiar to the average young reader. The plot revolves around Buck, a St. Bernard-Scotch Collie mix, who was the personal pet of Judge Miller in California's Santa Clara Valley. While strolling around the ranch as he was wont to do, Buck is taken by Manuel, the judge's gardener, and then sold to pay off some of Manuel's gambling debts. Crated and shipped off to Seattle, Buck's life is forever changed, as he finds himself in the hands of French-Canadians who take him, along with several other dogs, to the Klondike. There he is trained to be a sled dog, and Buck quickly learns the meaning of survival of the fittest. A fierce rivalry develops between Buck and the lead dog, Spitz, and, eventually, it is a fight to the death. Matthew Steward does an excellent job of bringing the bitterly cold and brutal world of Buck and the other sled dogs to life. Steward's enactment of the various human characters, their abuse and ruthless treatment of the dogs, will keep listeners captivated to the very end. Whether or not listeners are familiar with London's original, this audiobook will undoubtedly bring a better understanding of what it takes to live in a world that is wild and threatening, and through London's use of human emotions and traits that Buck reveals in this bitter, cold, wild adventure, it is one not easily forgotten.—Sheila Acosta, Cody Library, San Antonio, TX --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


Novel by Jack London, published in 1903 and often considered to be his masterpiece. London's version of the classic quest story using a dog as the protagonist has sometimes been erroneously categorized as a children's novel. Buck, who is shipped to the Klondike to be trained as a sled dog, eventually reverts to his primitive, wolflike ancestry. He then undertakes an almost mythical journey, abandoning the safety of his familiar world to encounter danger, adventure, and fantasy. When he is transformed into the legendary "Ghost Dog" of the Klondike, he has become a true hero. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Classics Illustrated (New York, N.Y.), No. 10. (Book 10)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Pub Group; 1st edition (May 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425120309
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425120309
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.3 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,562 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,759,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book The Call of the Wild is about a dog named Buck.
j ha
Yet, Buck is also capable of great love, his actions when he is with Thornton expresses the best traits of a domesticated dog, loyalty, courage and intelligence.
Charles Ashbacher
It's not exactly my kind of book, but it has a great story and amazing descriptions.
Hayden Clay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on August 26, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jack London's letters about the publication of "The Call of the Wild" reveal an all-too-common story that would make any author and most sympathetic readers cringe. In 1903, Jack London was hard up for cash and had just completed the manuscript. He sold the serial rights to the Saturday Evening Post for $700 and, since the editors were not all that keen on his first choice, suggested the title "The Sleeping Wolf." (Interestingly enough, the magazine version did not even include what has probably become the book's most famous scene: when John Thornton blusteringly makes a wager that Buck can pull a sled weighing half a ton.)

Soon after, Macmillan agreed to take a chance on the unknown writer and offered to publish the book for $2,000, with no royalties. By this time, London had warmed to his initial title, "The Call of the Wild," but left the final choice up to his editor. Both the magazine and the book publisher reluctantly used London's now-famous title, and seven years later London wrote to his editor, reminding him of his tin ear: "I'll be damned if that very muchly-rejected title didn't become a phrase in the English language. This is only one of many experiences concerning titles, wherein editors, booksellers, and publishers absolutely missed."

But it still boggles the mind that London earned a grand total of $2,700 for a book that quickly sold more than two million copies.

And what a book! I must have read it three or four times as a youngster, but even now, over twenty years since I last picked it up, it still manages to electrify me. "The Call of the Wild" is often cited as the best work of fiction ever written about dogs, but the book is equally about men--and about London himself.
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50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By LBords on January 23, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a little easier to read version of the original text written by Jack London. I was disappointed because I purchased the book for my classroom to read together with books I already had. The more difficult vocabulary words we were working on were not in this version, even though most of the text is the same. This version is good for someone to read if they are looking for an excellent story that has a simpler text.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Brian & Randy on October 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
London is a tremendously talented writer and his understanding of life matches his tremendous knowledge of the snow-enshrouded world of the upper latitudes. His writing is beautiful, poignant, and powerful, yet also somber, morose, and infinitely real. This isn't a story to read when you are depressed. Although The Call of the Wild is a short novel and on the surface a dog's story, it contains as much truth and reality of man's own struggles as that which can be sifted from the life's work of many other respected authors. The story he tells is stark and real, and as such, it is not pretty picture he paints, nor an elevating story he writes.

As an animal lover, I found parts of this story heartbreaking from Buck's removal from the civilized Southland in which he reigned supreme among his animal kin to the brutal cold and even more brutal machinations of hard, weathered men who literally beat him and whipped him full of lashes. Even sadder are the stories of the dogs that fill the sled's traces around him. Good-spirited Curly never had a chance, while Dave's story is only made bearable because of his brave, undying spirit. Even Spitz, the harsh taskmaster, has to be pitied, despite his harsh nature, for the reader knows this harsh nature was forced upon him by man and his thirst for riches.

Buck's travails are long and hard, but it is his nobility of his spirit that makes of him a hero, despite the primitive animal instincts and urges that dominate him. Buck not only conquers the weather, the harshness of the men, the other dogs and the wolves he comes into contact with, he thrives. Hopes for redemption with John Thornton are dashed in the end, and that's when Buck finally gives in fully to "the call of the wild," becoming a creature of nature only. While this is a sad ending, the reader also feels joy and satisfaction at Buck's refusal to surrender and his ability to find his own kind of happiness in the harsh world in which he is placed.
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65 of 74 people found the following review helpful By bernie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 25, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
Gold was found in Alaska, the rush to obtain it required a strong constitution and many dogs to do the work that horses usually did in the states. The environment bread harsh attitudes. Also in the testing of ones mettle one finds their true potential.

Buck (a dog that is half St Bernard and half Shepherd) goes through many lives, trials, and tribulations finally realizing his potential. On the way he learns many concepts from surprise, to deceit, and cunning; he also learns loyalty, devotion, and love. As he is growing he feels the call of the wild.

This book is well written. There is not a wasted word or thought and the story while building on its self has purpose and direction. The descriptions may be a tad graphic for the squeamish and a tad sentimental for the romantic. You see the world through Buck's eyes and understand it through his perspective until you also feel the call of the wild.

The Call of the Wild - Dog of the Yukon (1997)
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By joie de vivre on July 1, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Jack London is amazing. Most writers use adjectives to describe a setting, but London's words ARE Alaska. They ARE the bitter struggles a domesticated dog must face in the snowy land. There's a scene in Call of the Wild in which the team of dogs must cover 3000 miles over the virgin terrain without rest. Jack London conveys the bone-tiredness of these dogs down to their heart. It's wonderful how his words bring the characters (I almost don't want to call them characters) fully to life.
The story sounds like just a dog tale at first--a dog, Buck, is kidnapped from his comfortable life in California and sold as a sled dog for the Alaskan gold rush. While he endures the wilderness and the other dogs, Buck learns that survival comes only with tooth and fang. This lesson brings him very close to his forbears, the wolves.
If you look deeper, Call of the Wild is as much a story of humans as it is a dog tale. Buck encounters various incompetent masters who try to break his spirit. Are we like this? But Buck also learns to trust a master who is gentle and gives love. We can be like this, too.
Call of the Wild is not a story for the squeamish or very young. By involving us in the characters' lives, Jack London tells the truth. It is a life-and-death war between the harsh land and the soul every day. There is blood, death, cruelty--but it's the truth.
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