Start reading To Build a Fire (Bantam Classics) on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Color:
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player

 

To Build a Fire (Bantam Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Jack London
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $5.95
Kindle Price: $1.99
You Save: $3.96 (67%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for FREE. Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
Kindle Daily Deals
Kindle Delivers: Daily Deals
Subscribe to find out about each day's Kindle Daily Deals for adults and young readers. Learn more (U.S. customers only)

Book Description

To Build A Fire and Other Stories is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging collection of Jack London's short stories available in paperback. This superb volume brings together twenty-five of London's finest, including a dozen of his great Klondike stories, vivid tales of the Far North were rugged individuals, such as the Malemute Kid face the violence of man and nature during the Gold Rush Days. Also included are short masterpieces from his later writing, plus six stories unavailable in any other paperback edition. Here, along with London's famous wilderness adventures and fireband desperadoes, are portraits of the working man, the immigrant, and the exotic outcast: characters representing the entire span of the author's prolific imaginative career, in tales that have been acclaimed throughout the world as some of the most thrilling short stories ever written.

 




From the Paperback edition.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack London (1876–1916) was an American author and adventurer whose best-known works include The Sea-Wolf, The Call of the Wild, and White Fang.

An AudioFile Earphones Award winner and Audie Award finalist, Patrick Lawlor is also an accomplished stage actor.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

To the Man on Trail





“Dump it in."

"But I say, Kid, is n't that going it a little too strong? Whiskey and alcohol's bad enough: but when it comes to brandy and pepper-sauce and"–

"Dump it in. Who 's making this punch, anyway?" And Malemute Kid smiled benignantly through the clouds of steam. "By the time you've been in this country as long as I have, my son, and lived on rabbit-tracks and salmon-belly, you'll learn that Christmas comes only once per annum. And a Christmas without punch is sinking a hole to bedrock with nary a pay-streak."

"Stack up on that fer a high cyard," approved Big Jim Belden, who had come down from his claim on Mazy May to spend Christmas, and who, as every one knew, had been living the two months past on straight moose-meat. "Hain't fergot the hooch we-uns made on the Tanana, hev yeh?"

"Well, I guess yes. Boys, it would have done your hearts good to see that whole tribe fighting drunk–and all because of a glorious ferment of sugar and sour dough. That was before your time," Malemute Kid said as he turned to Stanley Prince, a young mining expert who had been in two years. "No white women in the country then, and Mason wanted to get married. Ruth's father was chief of the Tananas, and objected, like the rest of the tribe. Stiff? Why, I used my last pound of sugar; finest work in that line I ever did in my life. You should have seen the chase, down the river and across the portage."

"But the squaw?" asked Louis Savoy, the tall French-Canadian, becoming interested; for he had heard of this wild deed, when at Forty Mile the preceding winter.

Then Malemute Kid, who was a born raconteur, told the unvarnished tale of the Northland Lochinvar. More than one rough adventurer of the North felt his heartstrings draw closer, and experienced vague yearnings for the sunnier pastures of the Southland, where life promised something more than a barren struggle with cold and death.

"We struck the Yukon just behind the first ice-run," he concluded, "and the tribe only a quarter of an hour behind. But that saved us; for the second run broke the jam above and shut them out. When they finally got into Nuklukyeto, the whole Post was ready for them. And as to the foregathering, ask Father Roubeau here: he performed the ceremony."

The Jesuit took the pipe from his lips, but could only express his gratification with patriarchal smiles, while Protestant and Catholic vigorously applauded.

"By gar!" ejaculated Louis Savoy, who seemed overcome by the romance of it. "La petite squaw; mon Mason brav. By gar!"

Then, as the first tin cups of punch went round, Bettles the Unquenchable sprang to his feet and struck up his favorite drinking song:–



"There 's Henry Ward Beecher
And Sunday-school teachers,
All drink of the sassafras root;
But you bet all the same,
If it had its right name,
It 's the juice of the forbidden fruit."

"Oh the juice of the forbidden fruit,"

roared out the Bacchanalian chorus,–

"Oh the juice of the forbidden fruit:
But you bet all the same,
If it had its right name,
It's the juice of the forbidden fruit."



Malemute Kid's frightful concoction did its work; the men of the camps and trails unbent in its genial glow, and jest and song and tales of past adventure went round the board. Aliens from a dozen lands, they toasted each and all. It was the Englishman, Prince, who pledged "Uncle Sam, the precocious infant of the New World"; the Yankee, Bettles, who drank to "The Queen, God bless her"; and together, Savoy and Meyers, the German trader, clanged their cups to Alsace and Lorraine.

Then Malemute Kid arose, cup in hand, and glanced at the greased-paper window, where the frost stood full three inches thick. "A health to the man on trail this night; may his grub hold out; may his dogs keep their legs; may his matches never miss fire."



Crack! Crack!–they heard the familiar music of the dogwhip, the whining howl of the Malemutes, and the crunch of a sled as it drew up to the cabin. Conversation languished while they waited the issue.

"An old-timer; cares for his dogs and then himself," whispered Malemute Kid to Prince, as they listened to the snapping jaws and the wolfish snarls and yelps of pain which proclaimed to their practiced ears that the stranger was beating back their dogs while he fed his own.

Then came the expected knock, sharp and confident, and the stranger entered. Dazzled by the light, he hesitated a moment at the door, giving to all a chance for scrutiny. He was a striking personage, and a most picturesque one, in his Arctic dress of wool and fur. Standing six foot two or three, with proportionate breadth of shoulders and depth of chest, his smooth-shaven face nipped by the cold to a gleaming pink, his long lashes and eyebrows white with ice, and the ear and neck flaps of his great wolfskin cap loosely raised, he seemed, of a verity, the Frost King, just stepped in out of the night. Clasped outside his mackinaw jacket, a beaded belt held two large Colt's revolvers and a hunting-knife, while he carried, in addition to the inevitable dogwhip, a smokeless rifle of the largest bore and latest pattern. As he came forward, for all his step was firm and elastic, they could see that fatigue bore heavily upon him.

An awkward silence had fallen, but his hearty "What cheer, my lads?" put them quickly at ease, and the next instant Malemute Kid and he had gripped hands. Though they had never met, each had heard of the other, and the recognition was mutual. A sweeping introduction and a mug of punch were forced upon him before he could explain his errand.

"How long since that basket-sled, with three men and eight dogs, passed?" he asked.

"An even two days ahead. Are you after them?"

"Yes; my team. Run them off under my very nose, the cusses. I 've gained two days on them already,–pick them up on the next run."

"Reckon they 'll show spunk?" asked Belden, in order to keep up the conversation, for Malemute Kid already had the coffee-pot on and was busily frying bacon and moose-meat.

The stranger significantly tapped his revolvers.

"When 'd yeh leave Dawson?"

"Twelve o'clock."

"Last night?"–as a matter of course.

"To-day."

A murmur of surprise passed round the circle. And well it might; for it was just midnight, and seventy-five miles of rough river trail was not to be sneered at for a twelve hours' run.

The talk soon became impersonal, however, harking back to the trails of childhood. As the young stranger ate of the rude fare, Malemute Kid attentively studied his face. Nor was he long in deciding that it was fair, honest, and open, and that he liked it. Still youthful, the lines had been firmly traced by toil and hardship. Though genial in conversation, and mild when at rest, the blue eyes gave promise of the hard steel-glitter which comes when called into action, especially against odds. The heavy jaw and square-cut chin demonstrated rugged pertinacity and indomitability. Nor, though the attributes of the lion were there, was there wanting the certain softness, the hint of womanliness, which bespoke the emotional nature.

"So thet 's how me an' the ol' woman got spliced," said Belden, concluding the exciting tale of his courtship. " 'Here we be, dad,' sez she. 'An' may yeh be damned,' sez he to her, an' then to me, 'Jim, yeh–yeh git outen them good duds o' yourn; I want a right peart slice o' thet forty acre ploughed 'fore dinner.' An' then he turns on her an' sez, 'An' yeh, Sal; yeh sail inter them dishes.' An' then he sort o' sniffled an' kissed her. An' I was thet happy,–but he seen me an' roars out, 'Yeh, Jim!' An' yeh bet I dusted fer the barn."

"Any kids waiting for you back in the States?" asked the stranger.

"Nope; Sal died 'fore any come. Thet 's why I 'm here." Belden abstractedly began to light his pipe, which had failed to go out, and then brightened up with, "How 'bout yerself, stranger,–married man?"

For reply, he opened his watch, slipped it from the thong which served for a chain, and passed it over. Belden pricked up the slush-lamp, surveyed the inside of the case critically, and swearing admiringly to himself, handed it over to Louis Savoy. With numerous "By gars!" he finally surrendered it to Prince, and they noticed that his hands trembled and his eyes took on a peculiar softness. And so it passed from horny hand to horny hand–the pasted photograph of a woman, the clinging kind that such men fancy, with a babe at the breast. Those who had not yet seen the wonder were keen with curiosity; those who had, became silent and retrospective. They could face the pinch of famine, the grip of scurvy, or the quick death by field or flood; but the pictured semblance of a stranger woman and child made women and children of them all.

"Never have seen the youngster yet,–he 's a boy, she says, and two years old," said the stranger as he received the treasure back. A lingering moment he gazed upon it, then snapped the case and turned away, but not quick enough to hide the restrained rush of tears.

Malemute Kid led him to a bunk and bade him turn in.

"Call me at four, sharp. Don't fail me," were his last words, and a moment later he was breathing in the heaviness of exhausted sleep.

"By Jove! he 's a plucky chap," commented Prince. "Three hours' sleep after seventy-five miles with the dogs, and then the trail again. Who is he, Kid?"

"Jack Westondale. Been in going on three years, with nothing but the name of working like a horse, an...

Product Details

  • File Size: 408 KB
  • Print Length: 434 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553213350
  • Publisher: Bantam Classics (February 27, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000OI0G02
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #602,464 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars London at his best and worst August 29, 2005
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The stories that have been selected for this collection show the entire range of Jack London; roughly half of the book features his trademark setting of the Klondike, while the other half showcases some of his less-well-known subjects, ranging from American cities to Pacific Asian islands.

On balance, the Klondike stories comprise the better half of the book. London is more at home in the far north, and every story shows us a new facet of the astonishing blend of cultures that must learn to cope with one another in a land that brooks no foolishness. Taken together, the stories give us an astonishingly comprehensive portrait of the region.

London's writing ages well; his cut-to-the-chase prose and fact-oriented descriptions are still riveting a hundred years after the fact. Additionally, his ear for dialogue and ability to insert philosophical musings into the story without compromising any forward motion are reminiscent of Twain.

Despite the fact that many of them end bleakly, the Klondike tales include a healthy dose of the fierce, joyful vitality that burns brightly in the chests of so many of his characters. He paints a picture of harsh men and harsh conditions, but the men are capable of great joy; the conditions great beauty.

While I enjoyed almost all of the Klondike writings, one of the great standouts was the epic "An Odyssey of the North," which features a man from a simple northern village whose prospective bride is stolen away by a visiting ship captain. The story is complex and unfolds over decades, leading up to a climax that keeps us in suspense until the last couple of pages. The characters and images were so vivid that I could easily imagine the thirty-page tale being turned into an epic trio of movies ala "Lord of the Rings.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Against Nature August 15, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
About 6 months ago our battery First Sgt. decided to have everybody ruck with over 40 pounds on their back through 12 inch snow and negative degree temperatures at 5 in the morning. I lasted through that march because I had been there before. Thanks to this GREAAAAAAT BOOOOOK. If you read London you actually get tougher!!! One of my favorite short stories is entitled THe ODYSSEY. It tells the story of a great young indian who pursues the maiden of his heart across the globe. She was captured by a rich,large and white conqueror. The ending is spectacular because you understand how this new frontierland could never go back to it's way of life. In addition to detailing man at his toughest London has a rich understanding of man's compassion. Also unlike all those writers who live in New York and hit the coctail circuit, London actually lived the stuff he wrote about. He lived on ships, met trappers, drank a lot of whisky and actually froze his behind many a night in Alaska. This is not fiction he is writing about but are stories he lived through or gathered on many a cold night, while a fire burned with his frontier bretheren out in the last North American frontier.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Greats! September 7, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This was one of the first short stories I read to improve my English when I arrived in the United States. It still grips me because of how well the main story is written!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Man Against Nature... The Classic Battle April 27, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Jack London knew the power of nature over and against humankind. And in this book we encounter his telling of yet another story of the fight for survival.
In this short story we are swept back to the Arctic in a brutally cold setting. So cold that the moisture from a person's mouth instantly becomes ice when it hits the air. So cold that to stop moving is to risk freezing to death. So cold that to get wet means certain death.... All of these risks are very real and can only be combatted by one element-- Fire!
Our main character struggles to travel to his camp, making his way up the bank of a frozen stream.
As he progresses in his travel the need arises for him to build a fire. In fact the only way he will survive is to build a fire. And that is the crux of this cracklingly dark short story.
Jack London sends us into this frigid environment and won't let us go until the story is resolved. I was honestly shivering as I read this story, because of the stark reality that London creates in lean story telling. London tells us just enough to set the scene and let's your own imagination take over.
This is a quickly paced story of survival. London drives the pace like a runaway freight train. Hang on tight and enjoy the ride!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome icebreaker June 3, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When I got this book, I really didn't know what to expect, having only read 'To Build a Fire' about 12 years ago. Now I'm hooked on London. This collection is without a doubt an excellent starting point for anyone who is unfamiliar but curious about London's writings. His Klondike tales are his best, and by no means are they monotonous. He manages to extract many unique scenarios that the harsh conditions of the North can create. His other stories aren't as fascinating, but each still has an interesting twist to it. Whether it be prize fighting, blue collar labor, or warfare, London makes shrewd psychoogical insights that also illuminate his clearly socialist opinions. I can't say enough about London's abilities.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Bag of Stories October 16, 2006
Format:Mass Market 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 can be beautiful, poignant, and powerful, yet also somber, morose, and infinitely real. However, in this collection, his Klondike stories stand out above all the others: "The League of the Old Men," "Love of Life," and the titular "To Build a Fire." These stories are the worthy stories, the others much less so hence the title of this review and my 3-star rating.

Years after reading this collection, what stood out was London's real, visceral language and description in "To Build a Fire." This is hard to forget, as is the blisful ignorance that characterizes the protagonist. London seems to be saying that we must respect and understand nature in order to survive and prosper. The protagonist's demise is more a shame than a tragedy because of his lack of understanding and appreciation for the harsh realities of his environment. Bottom line, those who refuse to give in to their lowest instincts and who do not truly respect nature do not survive.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great gift
I gave this book as a Christmas gift because the young gentleman requested any story by Jack London. He is an avid reader so I am sure he completed the book a long time ago.
Published 1 month ago by Patricia M Bootes
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure adventure
London captures the imagination with excitement and drama woven against a well informed backdrop of natural and historical realities. Great reading, great literature.
Published 6 months ago by J. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Stories Well Read
These are classic tales by an American master of short fiction. The readings are quite good. I also recommend Earle Labor's Jack London: An American Life. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Dave M
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best
Along with Brown Wolf and Other Jack London Stories [con Glossario en Español], this is by far one of the best collections. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dave Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic American literature, funny, inspiring, tragic and dark.
This is an excellent collection of the works of Jack London, one of the classic American authors. These stories are often very dark, emotionally charged stories that occur in the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by J W L
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Jack London
Jack London is my favorite writer and I really love the collection of this book.
My favorite inside is to build a fire and love of life!
Published 9 months ago by MEI
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Read
In "To Build a Fire," Jack London spins a great tale about a noob who is overly optimistic about his outdoor skills. Read more
Published 12 months ago by John C. Balch
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book.
enjoyed the book, looking forward the the other books I purchased by Jack London.His description of the area and conditions they encountered was wonderful.
Published 12 months ago by Patricia Cox
4.0 out of 5 stars Some stories are in other books
Some stories are in other short story books that I have read by Jack London. I like to read stories that I have not already read.
Published 13 months ago by Sarah M Rayle
2.0 out of 5 stars language too far out of date
The language in these stories is so old that many stories are unreadable. The few that are readable aren't very good (I bought it specifically for To Build a Fire and was very... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Paul A. Brown Jr.
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?



Forums

There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 


Look for Similar Items by Category