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The Call of the Wild Paperback – July 1, 1990
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About the Author
Novelist, journalist, and social activist Jack London (1876–1916) rose from abject poverty to international fame. The bestselling, highest-paid, and most popular author of his era, London created a substantial body of work in his short life, drawing upon his experiences as a cannery worker, sailor, railroad hobo, and prospector.
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This is a slim volume, can perhaps be read in one sitting if you have some time. I had not imagined that such a book would keep me riveted, for it is not about mystery,suspense, adventure or action. It is about a dog! No wonder this is a classic.
(if you plan to read the book, feel free to skip the rest of this below)
The Alaska Gold Rush of late 19th century (1896 or so) attracted something like 100,000 prospectors, mostly from the San Francisco/Seattle areas to the Yukon region.Well cared, healthy, powerful dogs attracted unheard of premiums. This prompted a greedy gardener to kidnap his employer's dog and sell it off to work the sleds. While being transported from sunny Santa Clara Valley, Buck changes many cruel hands, however his last tormentor is particularly vile. He clubs Buck to pulp leaving him clinging to life. The experience infuses a steely character in Buck. While anything could break his body, nothing could break his spirit.Buck has to fight many competitors to finally establish supremacy of the pack.His masters recognize his remarkable character and reward him by according him the pride of place, to lead the pack. Demands of transportation make the dogs overworked, underfed and exploited, Buck included. He, like the rest of his pack is reduced to skin and bone. He is sold to ignorant but cruel masters who continue the exploitation, but Buck would have none of it. His greatness is recognized by a camper who adopts him and then begins Buck's wonderful life. He regains everything he had lost and seems even more virile and strong than the best of past times. Buck serves his master, even helping him add to his fortunes. When everything seems hunky dory, something tells Buck his place is in the wild. When the call of the wild is received it does not go unheeded.Meanwhile his master and associates are killed by native Indians.Trust Buck to take revenge and kill them all, establishing his superiority over even man himself. After this inflection point and after having lost his beloved master, Buck is even more convinced that his place is in the Wild and he returns to it, as if he had belonged there all the time.
Torn from his civilized surroundings, Buck taps into his wild origins to become one of the most feared sled dogs in the territory, wresting leadership from a violent enemy, and learning to deal with humans, kind and unkind, all the while drifting back to his beginnings, a creature of the wild, surviving on his strength and cunning.
While this story is told primarily from the dog’s point of view, it also shows humans and their relationships; with each other, with the animals they can use but not tame, and with the unremitting, merciless wilderness.
If you’ve never read Jack London before, Call of the Wild is a good place to get your first taste of an author who knows how to take nature and those who would vainly try to tame it, and portray it in a way that makes you feel the bite of the wind-blown snow and the oppressive weight of the darkness that surrounds a campfire at night. You can hear the mournful howl of the wolves and the wail of the wind. And, in so doing, you will get a sense of man’s place in a universe that we can never fully comprehend—and, through the eyes of a dog, you will lean what it is to be human.