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The Portable Jack London (Portable Library)
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2006
I'm a big fan of London, and have (so far) read probably 2/3 of his published work. I always prefer, when possible, to read his stories in their original collected volumes, rather than in the many "greatest hits" collections of his work. This volume is the exception to that rule. Earle Labor, a renowned London scholar, has put together the ultimate "desert island" volume of London's work. All of the best stories are here, as well as an excellent collection of his non-fiction writing, letters, and biographical material. The Call of the Wild is also included in its entirety. Unfortunately, other excellent novels are not represented here, but that's understandable due to space concerns. Labor provides a detailed chronology of London's life, and an introductory essay that puts these varied works into context. The result is not merely a showcase of London's best work, but a volume that gives an excellent overview of the man's life, the stages in his literary career, and the development of his politics and philosophy. For diehard London fans, if you can only fit one book in your carry-on bag, this is a great volume to have with you. For those who have never read London before, this book makes a great introduction to the man and his art.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2000
I first read this collection about two years ago and still go back to selected works from time to time. If all you have read by London is "The Call of The Wild", then you have not been exposed to the depth of his writing.
Stories like "A piece of steak" and the more popular "To build a fire" show London's ability to highlight the human spirit. "Strength of the strong" has deep political connotations and probably inspired "Animal Farm" by George Orwell, a contemporary of London.
There are really so many great stories in this collection. I advise anyone to explore the work of Jack London further.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2005
This is an exceptional collection of short stories, non-fiction and letters. Though London is best known for his arctic adventure stories (many of his best are found in this book), the breadth of topics about which he wrote is extensive and that is demonstrated here. The things that ties all the writing together, however, are excellent writing, passion, ferocity, intelligence and a social conscience. London had many interests and was a prolific writer and this book captures his talents better than any I've seen. I would highly recommend the collection to any one who likes London, short stories, good writing or American history (since his stories capture many aspects of America in the early 20th century). This is an excellent book and I would highly recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I am in general a big fan of the Viking Portables; some of them contain almost everything you need from a particular writer. This London volume, however, seems a little light on London's best stories and a little heavy on his political and personal writings. I want a writer's best work in a compendium; it will invariably tell you more about the man than any autobiographical or polemic work ever could. It's the artist's art that matters in the end, not the frame of his personal life.

On the other hand, Viking did very well by only including Call Of The Wild. It is to me by far his finest work, much more intense and concise than White Fang, which most collections include by default. COTW is still one of the very best looks at dogs/wolves, along with Never Cry Wolf; London certainly understood these noble beasts like few writers ever have, and recent research shows that he was a good century ahead of scientists in understanding how animals think.

My favorite JL story is here, To Build A Fire; a literally chilling tale notable for its brevity, which only heightens its impact. Alas, some of my others, such as Odyssey Of the North, are not. But any collection will always leave some fans wanting.

I don't rate London with the true greats of American lit like Twain and Hemingway, but he had his sublime moments, and a few of the best are right here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2015
You either like Jack London or you don't. He is truly an artist that has lived the lives he writes about, and it shows. My favorite are"A Piece of Steak", "Burning Daylight" and "Call of the Wild". If you are looking at taking a vacation in Alaska his works are an earthy preparation for the vast beauty and wildness you will find in this part of the world. You can still truly find his characters in Alaska either hiding from the law, or their x's or are still gambling on gold and taking their chances with wealth and life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2013
It does not matter if you are a fan of London or not this collection will bring happiness to any reader. This book compasses a lot of the greatest short stories of the author, plus a few letters and Call of the Wild. This is truly a great book.
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Growing up, "Call of the Wild" was required reading. Few children of my generation got through high school without exposure to Buck, the Northlands and the classic Jack London tale of deliverance and the law of fang and club. However, I never had the occasion to read London's short stories. This Viking book contains the entirety of "Call of the Wild", as any Jack London anthology must. However, it also contains over 100 London letters, articles and short stories that brought the author to life, and more importantly, brought the world to life, in ways that my prior exposure to London never did.

Whether writing about boxing, Hawaii, the Solomon Islands or the American West, London brings a natural element to the writing that allows the reader to connect at a primal level to the characters and the plot or news line. His non-fiction writing, especially on boxing, reminded this reviewer of Red Grange. His fiction - based in his own experience - is concise, page turning, emotionally charged and almost universally brings forth the primal power and the terror of nature. His letters and political writings reflect a deep, flexible and impassioned man striving to understand and improve the world around him.

The editing is superb, and the selections in the anthology are varied, interesting, and well chosen. Any lover of great literature would do well to move beyond "Call of the Wild" into London's broader works. They will be greatly rewarded, and this anthology is a great vehicle for that journey.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2002
... Do you like good writing? Are you socially aware? Do you really think the only thing good is Call of the Wild? Be prepared for the GOOD stuff.
He doesn't write the fluff. It's all socially relevant or life an death stuff. And it's all written VERY well.
Favorite Stories : the Apostate, and the 2 versions of To Build a Fire ( one the Boy Scout version, the other the real deal.)
... READ IT! LOVE IT!
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on April 16, 2009
One of the most profound writers I've encountered. This brilliant eclectic anthology is sure to stimulate the highest minds the world has produced.
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on January 9, 2015
I had the privilege of meeting Professor Labor. He is as genuine as his excellent writing and convinced me to become a Jack London fan.
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