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Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

February 7, 2012

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is a fascinating, true story about Chris McCandless, a man in his early twenties with an ambition to escape the constraints of contemporary society.  McCandless is inspired by authors like adventure novelist Jack London and environmentalist John Muir to abandon his life as a typical suburban American and create a new one for himself. He changes his name to Alexander Supertramp, ditches his beloved car, donates or burns most of his money, and begins hitchhiking across the western past of the U.S.  He leaves with no notice of where he’s going or when he’ll be back. Into the Wild is a must read for anyone even remotely intrigued by the prospect of living alone off the land.

I loved this book.  Normally, I enjoy books with a lot of real-life information, and Into the Wild is chock full.  Krakauer beautifully explains McCandless’s former life, his relationship with his family, and what spurs him to embark on his adventure in the first place. Even though McCandless didn’t write the book, every bit of the information Krakauer relates is believable and specific.  I learned a ton about McCandless, and I could definitely see where he was coming from.

Although I agreed with McCandless sometimes, a lot of his choices troubled me.  Yes, I think it would be fun to go into nature as he did, but I was disappointed with his decision to leave everyone who loved him wondering, until the tragic ending. The story flowed smoothly. In addition to Krakauer’s account of McCandless’s adventures, there are side stories about other hikers like Gene Rosellini, John Waterman, and others with similar fates. Krakauer even describes his attempt to get to the summit of the Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border.  All these stories pulled Into the Wild together in a way that kept me constantly wondering what was going to happen next.

I rated Into the Wild a ten out of ten. I admit I was reluctant to pick it up at first, because I’d never read a work of journalism before.  But when I did, I couldn’t put it down.


Villard Books, 207 pages

Learn more about this title at Amazon.com

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