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The Call of the Wild, White Fang & To Build a Fire (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – January 8, 2002

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To this day Jack London is the most widely read American writer in the world," E. L. Doctorow wrote in The New York Times Book Review. Generally considered to be London's greatest achievement, The Call of the Wild brought him international acclaim when it was published in 1903. His story of the dog Buck, who learns to survive in the bleak Yukon wilderness, is viewed by many as his symbolic autobiography. "No other popular writer of his time did any better writing than you will find in The Call of the Wild," said H. L. Mencken. "Here, indeed, are all the elements of sound fiction."
        White Fang (1906), which London conceived as a "complete antithesis and companion piece to The Call of the Wild," is the tale of an abused wolf-dog tamed by exposure to civilization. Also included in this volume is "To Build a Fire," a marvelously desolate short story set in the Klondike, but containing all the elements of a classic Greek tragedy.
        "The quintessential Jack London is in the on-rushing compulsive-ness of his northern stories," noted James Dickey. "Few men have more convincingly examined the connection between the creative powers of the individual writer and the unconscious drive to breed and to survive, found in the natural world. . . . London is in and committed to his creations to a degree very nearly unparalleled in the composition of fiction."

About the Author

Jack London (1876-1916), by turns a renegade adventurer,
a war correspondent, and an avowed socialist, first achieved fame with The Son of the Wolf (1900), a collection of short stories drawn from his experiences in the Klondike gold rush. "The greatest story Jack London ever wrote was the story he lived,  said Alfred Kazin.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (January 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037575251X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375752513
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bugs on April 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These three stories are amongst London's best fictional works- some say they *are* the best, especially, "The Call of the Wild" and "White Fang", it all depends on one's taste, of course, but rest assured, these stories are gripping and the intrigue of their moving plots keeps one glued to the book.

As a freind once said of "Call..." and "...Fang": "These are just about the two doggone best [canine] stories I have ever had the pleasure to read!". Indeed.

All three stories are set in Alaska during the gold rush days of the late 1800's and London spent time there to absorb the feeling of this beautiful, but unforgiving land. He is so descriptive of the landscape, one feels like they are there themselves. This is the magic of London's writing- he so expertly drops the reader right into the scenery and the characters. Indeed, we see and feel what they see and feel- even the animals- especially, the animals, for they have personalities that engage and create both sympathy and admiration for their trials, tribulations and triumphs. London is one of those that the measure of literary genius is judged by and taking in just about any of his works will demonstrate why.

The basic storyline of the "The Call of the Wild" has a dog named "Buck" who is living in a comfortable setting in California, suddenly yanked away by black-market dog thieves who are selling them to the ravenous needs of the gold prospector's supply market where they are then pressed into the tortuous dogsled industry. Buck eventually gets free and joins his native soul-brothers, the wolves. From the human world back to his ancestral roots, hence, the calling of the wild instinct.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I remember reading "To Build a Fire" in school in eighth grade. It is a fairly short story about a man travelling in extremely cold conditions who falls in a creek and, in order to stay alive, has to build a fire. It by itself is a great story, but along with "White Fang" and "The Call of the Wild," this is just an excellent book for anyone who likes life and death struggles and, well, dogs and wolves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Collin on January 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
In the book, The Call of the Wild and other stories, a dog name Buck is forced to leave his home in Santa Clara Valley, California after he is sold to two men that are going up north for the gold rush. They are headed to the region of Klondike Canada and once they get there Buck soon realizes that it is a very uncivilized place compared to his home. Buck competes with the rest of the sled dogs for head dog and it becomes a very violent contest in which Buck wins. After a while, Buck and the rest of the sled dogs become very weak after the long and treacherous journey. Buck is sold to an experienced gold hunter named John Thornton and they build a great relationship. After John Thornton dies Buck is forced to survive on his own and it is truly a Call of the Wild.

I enjoyed the book Call of the Wild because it was a great adventure story and a story that I think people of all ages would enjoy. I also liked how the author Jack London depicted the relationship between dog and man. He described how Buck felt towards all of his owners and how he learned that humans were only superior to him if they had one thing, a weapon. London went into more detail about Buck and John Thornton's relationship by describing how they were the best of friends. He showed that Buck was so obedient towards John that he would jump off a cliff if he were told to do so.

London did a great job of using imagery to enhance the book. I believe the plot of the book itself is what makes it a classic but the imagery and diction London chooses to use makes it just more interesting than it already is. I really think people of all ages would enjoy reading this book and even if you aren't into the wilderness type of book I think you will still enjoy the story.
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on October 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
This review is by a family of three kids. Our mom read this book aloud to us. Here are our opinions:
Anne (12): I think this was a really moving book, but some of the writer's opinions, I didn't quite agree with. Jack London says that we are shaped by our society, but I believe that we can change ourselves, because we have free will.
Michelle (11): It was a great book, but I didn't like the middle portion, because White Fang was all hatred, killing all the dogs he met.
John (9): The best part was when White Fang was sitting at the shore as boats came up, waiting to kill all the dogs. I think White Fang was good and bad. He would be a good guard dog. But he was bad because he tried to kill. He never let any dog retreat to save themselves.
Mom: This was really a good book, but I recommend it as a read aloud. The reading level is way above my kids heads, but they understood it in context as a read aloud. There are some very ferocious parts that I skipped as I read, because I thought them too graphic. But the book did inspire us to discuss the idea that we are shaped by our surroundings, and that we have free will to make our way. But also, we shape other's lives by our own choices -- so we are responsible before God to others.
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