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Into the Wild Paperback – January 20, 1997
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"God, he was a smart kid..." So why did Christopher McCandless trade a bright future--a college education, material comfort, uncommon ability and charm--for death by starvation in an abandoned bus in the woods of Alaska? This is the question that Jon Krakauer's book tries to answer. While it doesn'tcannotanswer the question with certainty, Into the Wild does shed considerable light along the way. Not only about McCandless's "Alaskan odyssey," but also the forces that drive people to drop out of society and test themselves in other ways. Krakauer quotes Wallace Stegner's writing on a young man who similarly disappeared in the Utah desert in the 1930s: "At 18, in a dream, he saw himself ... wandering through the romantic waste places of the world. No man with any of the juices of boyhood in him has forgotten those dreams." Into the Wild shows that McCandless, while extreme, was hardly unique; the author makes the hermit into one of us, something McCandless himself could never pull off. By book's end, McCandless isn't merely a newspaper clipping, but a sympathetic, oddly magnetic personality. Whether he was "a courageous idealist, or a reckless idiot," you won't soon forget Christopher McCandless.
"Terrifying...Eloquent...A heart-rending drama of human yearning."
--New York Times
"A narrative of arresting force. Anyone who ever fancied wandering off to face nature on its own harsh terms should give a look. It's gripping stuff."
"Compelling and tragic...Hard to put down."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"Engrossing...with a telling eye for detail, Krakauer has captured the sad saga of a stubborn, idealistic young man."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"It may be nonfiction, but Into the Wild is a mystery of the highest order."
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I watched the movie "Into The Wild" a few years back and have always been curious and saddened to think about Chris's journey. This book seemed to clear the story a bit. Sometimes I had a lump in my throat thinking that this is not a "character" in a made up story but a real life that seemed to yearn for a peace that only existed in his heart. Jon Krakauer does a great job of giving us a key hole view of "Alex's" life. The good times even when he had nothing. I personally feel like unfortunately Chris was a troubled individual weather it was mental imbalance or emotional disconnect and after this book I feel so sad for his torment. The movie left me disliking his parents, but this book turned that emotion completely around. And I loved the Epilogue. Thank you Jon Krakauer for that. If the movie intrigued you most definitely read the book.
Fast forward twenty-five years and Into the Wild pops up in my suggested reading after reading A River Runs Through It. Now I'm a father of two sons and my heart has softened with time and experience.
Knowing how the story ends, I kept thinking of the many corollaries between McCandless and myself. And then juxtaposing them with the knowledge of how hard parenthood can be and just kept thinking of how tragic the story is. That Chris couldn't go to either of his parents and get the other side of the story.
I feel certain that while McCandless died while living out his dreams, he most certainly died with a heavy heart.
I've read the book a few times...as a nature lover, explorer and adventure seeker myself, I completely understand his need and desire to "walk into the wild" as a mother of 4 boys, seeing how my own adult sons are still so naive and unprepared for life sometimes, I totally get how he could find himself in the situation that took his life. Had he just ventured out further into other directions, had he only does this or that, but he was young, inexperienced. A fascinating story. Sad to tears in some parts, but smiling and cheering in others. Everything happens the way it is supposed to, the way the universe, mother nature, God, has planned.
"Into the Wild" is the story of Christopher McCandless and his unique journey into the depths of the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer makes you really empathize with the troubled young protagonist, and does an excellent job balancing the narrative with his own personal anecdotes. It is abundantly clear that the author is well-versed in both the story and the whole hiking/outdoors culture, and his knowledge helps add to the book. The writing is very direct, but still managed to capture my emotions and keep me engrossed in the story. The story itself would be incredible without all these other elements, but I really felt like Krakauer's talents elevated the book from just an interesting account to a fantastic piece of literature.
Even though the book was suggested to me because of my love of hiking, I found that the human element of "Into the Wild" was what kept me reading and enjoying it. Overall, you'd be hard pressed to find a better piece of nonfiction out there.
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