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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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Jon Krakauer gives what I feel was a very thorough accounting of his experience on that ill-fated expedition, as well as a fair bit of well-researched information on what others that were climbing during that time went through. Particularly powerful is the way he delved into what each phase of the expedition felt like in the moment, and how all of the events and decisions that unfolded affected the ultimate outcome. Certainly he points out his own shortcomings during this excursion as well as those of others; he also heaps praise where it is deserved. In the end you can feel the pain that the author carries with him as a result of this experience, and you can feel the doubt he feels over whether any of it could have turned out differently.
Krakauer's intent in publishing this book is to shed light on the 1996 Everest tragedy, and the many other tragedies that have occurred on this and other mountains. The takeaway is that preparedness is important, as is making the right decisions at the right time, communicating with your team and those around you, and cooperating during times of trouble. But above all that there remains an uncertainty when you take on a risky operation that no amount of careful planning and execution can negate. Into Thin Air will make you stop to think about how your actions have consequences not only for yourself, but for those around you. Perhaps it can even make you pause before endangering or hurting others, and if it does then I think that Krakauer did us a service by writing about his team's experiences on Everest.
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.
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.