Book Reviews of Into the Wild

Into the Wild
Into the Wild
Author: Jon Krakauer
ISBN-13: 9780613033572
ISBN-10: 0613033574
Publication Date: 10/1999
Rating:
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 3

3.7 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Rebound by Sagebrush
Book Type: School Library Binding
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

154 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Into the Wild on + 121 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 13
As usual, a thoroughly enjoyable and thoughful non-fiction book by Jon Krakauer. I read anything by this author. I have never been disappointed yet. In this book, Krakauer covers the sad, true tale of a young adventurer who pushed himself until he died. Krakauer wrote the original article about Chris McCandless in Outside Magazine before he went on to write this book. He does a good job of piecing together the last 2 years of Chris' life by throrough research, speaking with his family and anyone who was in contact with Chris, and actually going to the places covered by Chris in his travels. Krakauer also devotes a couple of chapters to his own wonderlust as a young man in attempting to climb a mountain. I found this to be very interesting as well, having already read Into Thin Air, about Krakauer's climbing of Mt. Everest during a tragedy filled season which killed 7 climbers.
reviewed Into the Wild on
Helpful Score: 8
Christopher McCandless goes into the wild but does not come back alive.

Such extreme personalities always seem to intrigue the adventure seeking mountain climber Krakauer, so true-to-form he investigates and reconstructs McCandless back story to delve into the hanging questions. What compels McCandless, a young man with apparently everything going for him, to discard anything he can't carry on his back and to head off into the wilds of Alaska? And what might he have learned?

Jon Krakauer knows how to write a compelling investigative story. Short read, engaging, but not a classic or Krakauer's best. Sean Penn directs an even better movie based on his own adaptation of story.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 23 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
Really touching and sad story of a upper middle class young man who in 1992 went into the wilderness of Alaska with a desire to live off the land. And he did, however at the end of summer, his body was found in an abandoned bus where he apparently died of starvation. The author, Jon Krakauer bases the story on his own experiences and Chris McCandless's journal found in the bus. The story reminds me of times in my own adolesence when I had a romantic view of living in the wild, living off the land, the thoughts that I could accomplish anything. Good read. It is now a movie also, which I have yet to see.
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Helpful Score: 5
* * * ½* . Looks into the trip a young man foolishishly took into the Alaskan wilderness uneqipped. The book attempts to examine his actions by comparing it with other famous excursions with similar fates, and gives an explanation into the irony of his untimely demise.

I could have done without the author's personal reflections regarding his own near death experiences. Nonetheless, the book is still a deep, brooding work.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 410 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This is a fascinating, heartbreaking account of one young man's attempt to survive alone in the wilds of Alaska, a grandiose dream which ultimately led to his demise. Jon Krakauer treats his subject lovingly. I lookk forward to seeing the movie now...
reviewed Into the Wild on + 26 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I didn't care for this book. I don't know why this guy was glorified so much. I think he needed some psychiatric care. I do feel bad for his family though.

As for the writing............not my cup of tea.
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Helpful Score: 5
But after 88 pages, i put it down, and put it up for swap. My husband liked the book a lot, I had a hard time getting into the story, it just seemed to me that this McCandless guy lost his marbles and his sense of perspective. Krakauer tries to make him seem like a hero, or a revolutionary, however i did not get any of that from the guy, just that he somehow lost his way, and turned on civilization. so many people loved this book,it was a bestseller and they made a movie about it, I am in the minority, this is just my opinion.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 4 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
A little slow in the middle but an interesting look at the innerworkings of a man's mind and heart as he goes to / runs from something bigger than himself. The author's life and similar circumstances perhaps shed some light on a true mystery: why did Chris McCandless die in Alaska?
reviewed Into the Wild on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Mixed feeling about book. Some parts were really interesting but other parts just seemed to go off on other thoughts and other people. Also didn't like how book began giving away ending. It was interesting when they spoke about main character and his life but may times discussed other characters who were boring and uninteresting.
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Helpful Score: 4
Very well written by John Krakauer, although his main subject does not evoke admiration in me no matter how hard he tries. I too, am like the Alaskan residents who consider Chris McCandless a petulant spoiled child.
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Helpful Score: 4
A totally unprepared idealistic dumb-ass decides to try living in the wilderness of Alaska and doesn't make it. I feel sorry for him and his family. But it was his own stupid decision.
I like other books by Krakauer, so my dislike of this one has nothing to do with the author or writing style-it was well researched and written. But, I think the guy who did this was in way over his head, perhaps a bit delusional. The story was a real bummer. Reading the book made me decide I have no desire to see the movie.
If you like stories were people set out to do things that are not a good idea, without a safe plan, and don't make it, this book is for you!
reviewed Into the Wild on
Helpful Score: 3
perhaps i am a bit too old, opinionated and jaded to enjoy this book. i thought chris mccandleless was a brat. selfish, spoiled and arrogant. i wasn't sad that he died.. sorry for his parents for sure. and the author needs to find more mature subjects to be interested in... he is older than my mother but wants to bask in his glory days apparently. UGH!
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Helpful Score: 3
This book broke my heart. A young man, confused and most likely suffering from some sort of psychiatric problem, throws his life away in his search for "freedom", and not even deliberately. Circumstance alone, coupled with extreme naivete and lack of preparation, result in the loss of a sensitive boy who may have made an enormous difference in the lives of those he encountered had he lived.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
After hearing so many great things about the movie, I decided to read this....it has given me much to think about....
was he simply a seeker that made a tragic choice....
or an idiot going off into the wild without proper planning and died because of it.
I will admit, even tho its been weeks since I've read his story.....it still haunts me....
maybe it always will.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I was working at Emory University when Chris disappeared. I remember being disturbed by this story. I'll always wonder what really happened to him....what he was running from. I enjoyed reading Krakauer's other books too.
reviewed Into the Wild on
Helpful Score: 2
Fascinating read about the tragic death of Chris McCandless. I picked this up this afternoon and read it in one sitting. Krakauer's writing style is easy to follow, and while there are a few bits that border on rocket science, he makes it easy to understand. I was fascinated not only with McCandless's story, but the other stories that Krakauer includes in this book.
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Helpful Score: 2
"Into the Wild" is both a chronicle of the life of American college grad turned drifter Chris McCandless, and a reflection on people whose somewhat anti-societal views lead them to embrace exploring the outer limits of nature's dangerous boundaries. Krakauer's mountain climbing experiences, as well as accounts of various other people is a visage which shows that many of the people who have been there are forever changed and most want to return.

Krakauer chronicles the adventure of Chris McCaddless who for years has his eyes set on a goal of both personal and spiritual definition as well as outcasting himself from the very society he often hated. Although the front of the book already tells Chris's fate, the harrowing and sometimes exhilarating journey that took him there is not lost on the reader...Life is a journey not a destination, and for Chris it is the friendships he accrues as well as the things he learned within himself that make his story so memorable.
reviewed Into the Wild on
Helpful Score: 1
I truly loved this book. Eric McCandless/Alex Supertramp was an unusual soul but his story was amazing. Who hasn't, at some point in their life, longed to leave everything behind and start from scratch? It's just amazing that he did it. Yes, he was very naive and ignorant when he went "into the wild" but he lived his last couple of years without any regret.

The book is based on interviews with family members and friends and a lot is taken from the journal he kept. I also thought the movie was very comparable to the book.
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Helpful Score: 1
Intersting story but not very dramatic. I expected more.
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Helpful Score: 1
I could not believe this guy! He came across as unprepared & somewhat cocky. A true tragedy.....I feel for his family.
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Helpful Score: 1
I absoluetly loved this book!! I read it in one day, I couldn't bring myself to put it down. I was so intrigued by the book and Chris's life. It has been over a month since I read this book and I STILL can't seem to get it out of my mind. It has made me take a step back and look at modern society in such a different way. Some people say this Chris was an idoit, but I idoilize him. He may have made some mistakes, but what he did many, maybe all of us could never do. He simply lived his life the way he wanted to.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 16 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One man's journey... Krakauer really knows package a story. Sensational yes but not quite riveting. If you liked "Into Thin Air" you'll like this - it's a good read with a good lesson.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
krakauer is in my top-five authors list. a fantastically written true story of a man struggling to fit into society, and his subsequent isolation and demise.
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Helpful Score: 1
I liked this book a lot. It made me want to get up and travel just like Chris McCandless did. I think he must have been a little on the crazy side though. He seemed to live on the edge with no regard for his life. Over all, I thought this book was good, now I want to see the movie.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Great book, he was a great kid who seemed to be lost. He lived life on his terms and who would want anything else. The movie is great too.
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Helpful Score: 1
Ignorance and arrogance = death.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
An excellent true story, filled with suspense.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a fantastic book and it was an exciting read from cover to cover! I have not seen the movie based on this book, but it was a highly visual read and it was compelling. A puzzling story, and a sad one... The author also wrote a great book about Mount Everest called Into Thin Air, so I knew it would be written well.
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so good makes you want to know more about him loved loved this book!!!!
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I was intrigued by this story. As an armchair explorer, I found this book very interesting, and ultimately very sad.
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Very interesting novel about a man from a weathly family who gives up all his possessions and hitchhiked to Alaska, only to have his body be found by a hunter months later.
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Depressing, yet inspiring. Jon Krakauer explores the final days of Chris McCandless AKA Alexander Supertramp and also delves into the psyche of those who seek to separate themselves from society and immerse themselves in the wild.

As a sidenote, Sean Penn's film serves as a beautiful visual companion to the book.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 37 more book reviews
Fascinating story! Kept my attention throughout and still remains a mystery to me. Tells the story of an idealistic young man who challenged nature.
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What not to do when you want to get back to nature. Also gives you a really good indication of what not to eat on a camping trip.
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Interesting while I read it; easy to put down and not pick back up. Not as engrossing as Under the Banner of Heaven.
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Great book - I could barely bring myself to put it down! This is the tragic story of one young man's "hubris", "naivite", "awe", of the natural world that led to his ultimate downfall. I haven't seen the recent movie but I would find it hard believe that it could in any way do justice to the book.
reviewed Into the Wild on
I expected so much more from this book. As I read it, I kept thinking that the only reason it was written is because McCandless was from a well to-do family and could quote Thoreau. Many young men and women go on great adventures and don't make the stupid mistakes McCandless did. Many go on adventures without disowning their mother and sister. McCandless seemed to have suffered from some form of depression or other mental illness. It's a shame that so many young people are seeing him as a hero.
reviewed Into the Wild on + 24 more book reviews
I thought this was a great read. I can see the reasoning behind thinking this guy was just a moron. I can also see the point of view of his family. You really get to know the man, and kind of understand that this was really what he wanted to do in life. It is unfortunate he did not survive to go on to other things, as he seemed to be satisfied with his journey before he ran into trouble and died.
reviewed Into the Wild on
If you know anything at all about this story, it is quite a story! How many people follow their dreams and their heart? This is a story about a young man who gave up everything that you and I think that we need in our lives to live alone in Alaska, to live off the land and be at peace with himself. Read this before you get the movie.
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This book wasn't as great as I had hoped or as good as Krakauers other books.
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Fascinating story!! I do not understand all his motives but sure makes for great reading. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next and was sad to finish it.
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I first became interested in this story because my niece was reading it for school. Her assesment: "Stupid". Mine is a bit different. This documentation of a young man's bitterness and his parents regret couldnt be more tragic. Though the main character saw his journey into the wild as a kind of epic persuit of purity and rejection of family hypocrisy, the underlying burden of unforgiveness he carried brought him to his end. I couldnt help thinking of Holden Caldwell from "Catcher in the Rye", the fatally immature and judgemental youth who decended into mental illness. Here, the end of a young life could have been prevented by him writing off the emotonal debt placed in him by his parents. He seemed unable to relinquish the griefs of his past and release those who had hurt him. For their part, his parents (especially the father) couldn't see their own hand in this journey of rejection until their grief brought it home too late. Ultimately sad but a thought provoking read and strong cautionary tale for any parent or child. Dont miss the excellent movie and moving cameo by a wizened William Holden.
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I just finished this book and it was incredible! It was almost overwhelming in the way that it makes you feel so many different things towards Chris McCandless; admiration and frustration among them. Basically, it is an interesting account of a young man who abandons his civilized life and wanders into the Alaskan wilderness. The author also does a great job at tying this story in to others who have have done something similar throughout history. Highly recommended!
reviewed Into the Wild on
I thought this was a great book and it read fast. Captivating....while I thought the kid was too much of a anti-establishment, it made me think about leaving my life to do the same thing and cut the bonds of life in general.
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I saw the movie first, which led me to the book, which paints a more concise and sympathetic picture of the main character. The descriptions of nature in this book are unbeliveably great! Almost makes you want to go "Into the Wild"! After the movie, I thought Chris was a selfish, egotistical boy. The book, softened my stance on Chris into a strong willed, adventurous, but tragically misled man. Worth a read!
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I read this book while riding the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Fairbanks and I was spell-bound. This story is so heartbreaking. A cautionary tale for anyone who thinks that they can survive in the harshness of Alaskan wilderness with only a few supplies. McCandless's death leaves more questions than answers. Krakauer does a wonderful job telling the story and makes every reader feel as if he or she knew McCandless personally.
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I read this book in one day. A swift-moving narrative that constructs young McCandless' story in great arrangement. If you've ever felt the pull of a more primitive existence or to abandon the social structure surrounding us, you'll enjoy this book.
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Meh. Kind of all over the place, no real timeline in the book. Had to add stories of other similar experiences from other people. I would have thought that the amount of time the author spent with the family would have revealed some interesting background. Pictures would have been very interesting.
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A riveting tale. I read this in one day! I could barely put it down.
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Jon Krakauer wrote an article in Outside Magazine about Chris McCandless, a young man who gave away everything he owned and lived in the wild. In 1992 Chris died in the Alaskan wilderness. The mystery surrounding the life and death of Chris is fascinating and Mr. Krakauer's skills in both researching Chris's life and telling Chris's story are incredible. Highly recommended
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A very introspective book that deals with emotions that a lot of young people go through about the meaning and purpose of life.
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This book is intense and perplexing, but a good solid read. Perfect for a book club.
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This was an interesting book about not only Chris McCandless's tragic and unnecessary death, but about how someone's romantic view of nature can blind them to its harsh reality.
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For anyone that has yearned to unplug from our 21st century life, has questioned the meaning of our existence, Chris McCandlesses journey across the country and into the wild is an intriguing look into the adventure that many dream and never realize. Krakauer uses his own restless and reckless youth to help him piece the scraps of "Alex Supertramp's" final years into a portrait of a young man that hoped to change himself by leaving convention behind. The book is by turns touching, disturbing and enlightening - and made me sad that Chris McCandless didn't return to tell the story himself.
reviewed Into the Wild on
What a fascinating true story! A very quick read that you can't put down, and one that will haunt you for days to come.
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Good detective work in picing everything together. Stubborness is not a virtue.
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As much as I like true adventure stories, I felt that the author put too much of his own experience in the book. It was a little bit long with all of the Jack London excerpts and personal narratives. I would have preferred the book be written only about Christopher, the young man who died in the bus. I would give Krakauer another shot though and I would like to read his other books. But save the personal stories for books about yourself please.
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krakauer is one of my favorite writers and i love his writing style. i like how the book explores the human psyche, why people would want to do things like chris mccandless did, and does an excellent job of researching many aspects of the case.
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A wonderful and captivating story about this misunderstood character... loved it.
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I first saw the "Into the Wild" movie and thought that I didn't really like Christopher McCandless all that much. A friend who had read the book gave me a different take on him so I decided to read it myself and was glad I did. It is a great book and a much clearer view of McCandless life and tragic end.
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The writing was great.
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I really liked this book and had a hard time putting it down!
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Unusual and true story of a young man's search for something missing from his seemingly good life, which ended tragically.
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True account of man who gave up everything to go
into the alaskan wilderness.
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One of my all-time favorites! A gripping account of a wilderness tragedy.
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A book about a young man who runs away and finds life on his own. Very fascinating. A worthy read of adventure.
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I liked the movie better... as much as it pains me to EVER say that.
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I loved this book, but not for the reasons I thought I would. I went into this book with preconceived notion of what it would be. I ended the book with a totally different viewpoint.

I recommend it for any traveler or outdoors man/woman.
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WOW! WOW! I've always been mystified about those who would risk their lives to go on incredible adventures. Though I don't have that kind of spirit, it's amazing to read about those who do. Great Book!
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I have to give this book five stars, though I "loved it" not because Chris McCandless himself was amazing but because I believe that it brought me (of all people) to some understanding of the guy. That is Krakauer's singular--and yes, "amazing"--accomplishment here. McCandless seems to evoke extreme reactions from many people (as evidenced by the reviews here). On one hand there are those who are starry-eyed with adulation of his stubborn pursuit of "freedom." On the other (and obviously, I was in this camp), there are those of us giving ourselves ocular hernias with our eye-rolling disparagement--even bordering on anger--of his utter stupidity (or more rightly, his insistence on remaining ignorant) of some of the simplest edicts about how to survive in the so-called "wilderness." Turns out, McCandless wasn't in the "wild" at all, but about 30 miles from a town, and about a half-mile walk to a bridge that would have saved his life. But what Krakauer made me see was that McCandless wanted to think that he was out in the wild, and so he eschewed maps, or any knowledge of where he actually was. If he was lost, then he was free. Krakauer points this out toward the end of the book: in this day and age, there are few, if any, places left on the planet that aren't known, that haven't been mapped. So McCandless threw away the map in order to be lost. I don't advise this to anyone who wants to keep on living, but I get it. McCandless lived his philosophy, however half-baked, all the way out to its ultimate conclusion. Who among us does that? I suppose I have to give him credit. And regardless of what you think of Chris McCandless, Jon Krakauer is an amazing writer, and this book is well worth the read.
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Interesting book.
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I thought this was a great book. I had read a few chapters of it at my university for my Expository Writing class and found Chris McCandless's story compelling. I decided to read the entire book shortly thereafter.

I was brought up in a very religious household and went to private schools up until the end of high school. I then enrolled in a public university. At the same time I read this book, I understood very well the same struggles the protagonist was going through. Civilization is so full of hypocrisy and lies. As one reviewer put it: it will..."make you lose your marbles and sense of perspective". But seriously, just contemplate for example the founding of this country. Once you educate yourself enough and stop reading biased texts, you'll realize this country was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free (slavery was abolished for a short period around the declaration of independence so our founding fathers could less visibly be seen as scumbags). I can totally understand McCandless's sojourn into the wild, however tragic its ending.
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The magic of this book is that Krakauer doesn't simply report facts or transcribe interviews, rather, he reconstructs the both the body and humanity of his subject from the tragedy of a lonely starvation in the wilderness. For me, the reading was not one of watching a demise, but watching a birth.
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This book was very interesting to read It followed this guys journey into the wild.It followed his journey living in an abandon school bus and how he survived for days with his knowledge of the land.No one is sure what happened to him at the end. A very Tragic story you feel the pain for the family who lost him.You can also tell from the story he was not in the right frame of mind and he brought this on himself.
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I loved this book. Jon Krakauer has written many wonderful books. This was a very sad, but well written story of a young man who, for some reason decided to give up civilization. To think that he was so close to being rescued and did nothing about it, is shocking. Great book.
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I did not enjoy this book, however the book is better than movie. Spoiled young man has everything he ever wanted, yet he throws it all away.
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This was a very interesting book. I admired the adventurous spirit of the main character even though, as was pointed out, he made some mistakes in planning his remote excursion in Alaska.
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First and foremost I must confess that I have a profound love and respect for Christopher McCandless. Whatever his faults or eccentricities, the man is like a deity to me.

Saying this, I give "INTO THE WILD" two stars.

Jon Krakauer is a fantastic story-teller. "UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN" and "INTO THIN AIR" are exquisite works of heartbreaking research; however "INTO THE WILD" (moving as it may be) was tweaked far too much for my liking.

Of course, INTO THE WILD worked on me, pulled my heartstrings. I read the book and fell in love with a dead man and his ideals, but I cannot forgive Krakuer for his untruths.

For this book, Krakauer romanticized Chris -- either for numbers or to ease the painful wounds of Chris's family, I cannot say. While the main portrait of the man is true (which creates the feral Love and/or Hate reaction readers will have to him), there are three untruths in the book which taint the Christopher McCandless story.


(My source for the following is the Terra Incognita website devoted to Ron Lamothe's Christopher McCandless documentary "THE CALL OF THE WILD" -- which I highly recommend as a thoroughly researched piece on McCandless and the effect or non-effect created by his death. Whatever quotes I include also come from this site, located here: http://tifilms.com/wild/call_debunked.htm)



I. Chris McCandless walked into the wild with his birth certificate, driver's license, health card, social security card, voter identification, and three library cards. He also brought $300 tucked in his wallet AND A MAP.

These items were all found in Chris McCandless's wallet, which was safely housed in a secret compartment in his backpack. This backpack, somehow overlooked by the police, was found in the fall of 1992 by one Will Forsberg. Bear in mind, INTO THE WILD was published in 1996 -- four years since the finding of that backpack.

So, then, the depictions of Chris burning his identification beside his drowned yellow Datsun (as depicted in the Sean Penn film, which followed closely the book) or leaving, among other things, eighty-five cents in the truck which drove him to the Stampede Trail are completely fictitious.

As for the map Krakauer waffles less than gracefully.

"In the original [OUTSIDE MAGAZINE] story, Krakauer writes that 'he left the map in Gallien's truck, along with his watch, his comb, and all his money, which amounted to 85 cents.' However, when the book was published, these lines were changed to the following: 'Alex insisted on giving Gallien his watch, his comb, and what he said was all his money: eighty-five cents in loose change' (p. 7). What happened to the map? Why the nuance of 'what he said' was all his money? Was the reason for the latter that Krakauer suspected Chris had more than eighty-five cents on him, which would make sense considering he writes in another chapter that Chris had left Carthage twelve days earlier with 'approximately one thousand dollars tucked in his boot' (p. 68).

Perhaps mention of the map mysteriously disappeared is because the map is listed in the list of possessions drafted by the coroner.

Yet Krakuer (who had access to the list, ergo the road map as well) still makes no mention of the map -- in the original article or the book, and subsequently the movie.

From INTO THE WILD: "At the coroner's office they were given the handful of possessions recovered with the body: Chris's rifle, a pair of binoculars, the fishing rod Ronald Franz had given him, one of the Swiss Army knives Jan Burres had given him, the book of plant lore in which his journal was written, a Minolta camera, and five rolls of filmânot much else" (p. 131).

On one page alone: "Because he had no topographic map"; and in the next paragraph, "He simply got rid of the map. In his own mind, if nowhere else, the terra would thereby remain incognita"; and then followed by the line, "Because he lacked a good map..." (p. 174)."

Why not mention the map that Chris did have? Why keep up the charade?

"... he continues to let others believe that Chris didn't have any map at all, and his pat answer to questions on the subject deflects the truth by talking about what other people say rather than correcting the interviewer (excerpts below from The Oprah Winfrey Show, 9/20/07; and Sundance Channel's 2007 season premiere of Iconoclasts):

OPRAH WINFREY: So eating the seed was the fatalâ-was the fatal blow?
JON KRAKAUER: That's what finally pushed him over the edge.
OPRAH WINFREY: But not having a map?
JON KRAKAUER: Not having a map. Heâ-well, I mean, it's easy to criticize Chris. He didn't have a map. He didn't have an axe. He had a very small-caliber rifle. But, this was not--this was by design.

From Iconoclasts:
Jon Krakauer: People don't get it. âHe didn't even have a fucking map! What kind of idiot.â That was the point. There's no blank spots on the map anymore, anywhere on earth. You want a blank spot on the map, you've got to leave the map behind."

But again, Chris did have a map. This proves beyond reasonable doubt that Chris was not a loon hell-bent on death by nature. He had indeed planned to come back to civilization and write his book, perhaps reconcile with his father.

Is it possible that Chris's possession of a map diminishes his great Alaskan Odyssey? Of course not. Yet it is not mentioned by Krakuer, who must insist that Chris walked blindly to his tragically romantic death.


II. Chris McCandless did not die as the result of eating toxic mold, poisonous plants or any combination of the two (as pushed by Krakauer since the 1996 release of INTO THE WILD -- despite the lack of any scientific evidence proving the toxicity of the wild potato plant or the wild sweet pea, which Chris had been able to distinguish without trouble for three weeks). Chris's death can be answered simply and tragically enough: it was a mere act of irony, that this man who donated his life's savings to OXFAM would starve to death.

"As far back as 1997, Dr. Thomas Clausenâ-the biochemist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who examined the wild potato plant (Hedysarum alpinum) for Jon Krakauerâ-concluded after exhaustive testing that no part of H. alpinum is toxic. Neither the roots nor the seeds. Accordingly, McCandless could not have poisoned himself in the way suggested by Krakauer in his 1996 book INTO THE WILD, and in every subsequent reprinting of the book over the next decade."

Nor could Chris have mistaken the wild potato plant with the wild sweet pea and died that way (as suggested in the movie). There are no toxic compounds in the wild sweet pea and there is not one case in modern medical literature which might infer otherwise.

But wait! The seeds were moldy! Chris had stored them in a repeatedly washed Ziploc bag and so mold grew on the seeds, a deadly mold, which prevented Chris from absorbing any nutrition and so he died that way!

Krakuer pushed forth this new theory after a September 2007 Men's Journal article entitled âTHE CULT OF CHRIS MCCANDLESSâ. This article revealed for the first time in the Lower 48 the falsehood of the H. alpinum (wild potato plant) theory.

But "He provides no evidence in support of the idea that this particular mold (Rhizoctonia leguminicola) has been found in Alaska on Hedysarum alpinum plants and linked with swainsonine. Nor can he provide a single case where a human has ever, anywhere, been poisoned in this way. And yet, Krakauer speaks of it in public as if this were a proven fact: 'It turned outâ-I've learned, since writing the book, those seeds were moldy. And this mold created a poison that doesn't actually kill you outright, it keeps you from digesting food. So even though he was still eating food, he couldn't make use of it. And thatâ-so he starved to death because he ate these moldy seeds' (The Oprah Winfrey Show, 9/20/07). The same day he repeated this claim on National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered,' describing to Melissa Block how he 'puzzled' over this for years, but was now 'pretty convinced' that Chris McCandless died from eating moldy potato seeds."

He gathered this from a single photograph of a Ziplog bag and a quantity of seeds. Miraculously Krakauer deduced from this one photograph the exact breed of mold (Rhizoctonia leguminicola) which grew on the moldering seeds in the moist plastic bag and the exact toxic alkoloid (swainsonine) which then grew on the mold.

Granted, he could have done that. However this is an "untested theory, and one based entirely on veterinary literatureâ-an obscure case where some horses in North Carolina ate large quantities of moldy red clover hay. He provides no evidence in support of the idea that this particular mold (Rhizoctonia leguminicola) has been found in Alaska on Hedysarum alpinum plants and linked with swainsonine. Nor can he provide a single case where a human has ever, anywhere, been poisoned in this way."

No. The simple fact of the matter is that Christopher McCandless (a sinewy cross county runner with a 30-inch waist) starved to death. For all his time in Alaska, he could only acquire small game (squirrels and the like). The one moose he did kill (and tried to cure incorrectly for the environment he was in) quickly rotted in the rife, moist atmosphere.

It is stated in Chris's own journals that he went days without food.

A small man, hunting and foraging in the wild, expending more energy than he could consume...

"Using peer-reviewed scientific literature, relying on calculations developed by the World Health Organization, and informed by McCandless's own food journals, we tested this hypothesis. The result was that, despite some success hunting and gathering, McCandless was not able to secure enough food on a daily basis. He slowly lost weight until he reached a Body Mass Index (BMI) that was fatal. To test this hypothesis, we calculated his energy expenditure and compared this to his caloric intake. To assess his energy expenditure, we predicted the basal metabolic rate (BMR) of McCandless using a regression equation developed by the World Health Organization for young adult humans, age18-29. His BMR was adjusted to reflect his physical activity levelâhunting and gatheringâas defined by WHO criteria. McCandless's caloric intake was estimated from his detailed 113-day food journal. In the end, a day-by-day comparison of his energy expenditure (BMR) and his caloric intake showed a consistent caloric deficit, i.e. weight loss. By Day 113, his Body Mass Index (BMI) had dropped into the range of 13 kg/m2, a level considered incompatible with life. It is believed he died on that same day."

Chris does mention that he gets ill toward the end of July (07.30.92: "Extremely weak. Fault of pot. seed,"), but this was not the cause of his death.

It is possible, like any severely emaciated person, that his withered and dying organs simply could not handle what little sustenance those seeds provided. But he would not have died from his inability to digest this food.

Christopher McCandless died after 113 days in the wild, not because of toxic seeds/mold/what have you as Krakauer adamantly states, but because he could not meet his caloric needs.

When his body was found, Chrisopher McCandless weight 67 pounds.

Again, I cannot express my severe love and admiration toward McCandless. I cannot look at a picture of him without feeling as if my soul has been torn away, and because of this hero worship (which he would not have wanted, which he never wanted) I have to mention the lies of the Krakuer book.

It still is a moving tale, but to warp the facts about what happened is inexcusable.
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it was a very good book
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This book takes you to some of the most breathtaking places in North America thru the eyes of Chris McCandless, the main character. It is very hairrasing. I am a big national park enthusiast and would like to personally see some of the places mentioned in the book.
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Excellent account of a tragic event. Krakauer manages to make it compelling reading even as the outcome is known in advance. Very thoroughly researched and presented with stories from the people who knew McCandless.
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Unlike some of the other reviewers here, I think that Krakauer did a pretty good job of stating fact and remaining unbiased. I can imagine that it was a fairly difficult task, too, because anyone you talk to about this story has a pretty passionate opinion about McCanless, the young man who dies in the Alaskan wilderness. I happen to think that McCanless was a self-centered, selfish brat who above all was going to live his dream, however absurd it was. He didn't care how it came to fruition or who he hurt or used along the way.
Sean Penn directed the movie of the same name, and he obviously felt that this kid was a modern day Thoreau or something. Along with a soundtrack from neo-hippie, Eddie Vedder, the movie feels like a tribute or an opinion-slanted documentary.
I would recommend the book; like I said, I think the author does a good job of sticking to the facts and not infusing some of his own opinions into the story. It was an interesting read, but the way McCanless treated the kind hearted strangers that he encountered infuriated me.
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read this on my flight to Alaska and had the opportunity to be in the area. the book was mostly speculation about the adventures of Alex Supertramp, but Jon Krakauer is a very entrancing writer and his descriptions of his own adventures kept me enthralled.
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Very interesting! Well written
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An investigation into the disappearance and death of a young man in Alaska. Wonderful writing by Krakauer, as always
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So GOOO
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gripping
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This was a fantastic read. Krakhauer is a phenomenal author. His tale is a vivid journey into the mind of a young man who thought he was invincible. As we know, even Icarus fell after his lofty achievement.
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An interesting, true adventure story and portrait of a nature-loving nonconformist (Chris). I couldn't help but be irritated at the foolhardy chances Chris took in his journey of self-discovery, however. Also, Krakauer's reverent tone, when describing this ultimately senseless and needless tragedy, seems misplaced.
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There were times when this story (which is harrowing, moving, and tragic) was so frustrating. Alex, the character at the center of the story, is young, idealistic, too intelligent, and full of hope for himself and humankind. But, he makes so many left-turn decisions that I often wondered what he was thinking. This was not a bad thing for me - it kept me reading in order to solve this real life mystery. Why did he do these things? What motivated him? What actions ultimately led to his demise? (That was not a spoiler. The young man's outcome is no secret, from the very book cover onward.) In short, I couldn't put it down even when it was heartwrenching. So please, read it.
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mazing true story of a young adventurer in Alaska.
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A sad true story, told as only Krakauer can tell one.
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Krakauer examines the life and death of Chris McCandless, a young man who turned his back on an affluent upbringing and hiked into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992, dying there of a combination of bad luck, ignorance, and -- perhaps most of all -- hubris.
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Young man trying to find himself travels around the U.S., with Alaska being his final destination, literally. Very interesting reading, saw story on news several years ago, and wanted to read.
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I have to admit that whatever made this book so popular some years ago was totally lost on me. The writing was pedestrian and often confusing, while the story skipped around in place and time with much repetition and little point. Worse, Krakauer insisted on slipping in sly political jabs, making his ideological leanings clear in a book where they absolutely didn't belong and had no relevance.

Mostly, I struggled with Krakauer's view of McCandless as an heroic free spirit engaged in finding some nebulous, glorious something. It seemed to me that Chris McCandless was an adult who chose his path with little regard for anything or anyone outside himself, and died in his attempt to find whatever it was he was searching for. Idealistic, or maybe troubled? Perhaps. But he was also naive and arrogant and ill-prepared, not a good combination in the wild. He was not noble, heroic, or doing anything even mildly useful; it was all simply a waste, and a source of grief to those who loved him.
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Excellent survival-adventure book.
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I loved this book. I devoured it in one day -- I literally could not put it down. My sole complaint about the book is that I wanted to understand more about what drove Christopher McCandless/Alex Supertramp to undertake his ultimately fatal two year sojourn throughout the American West. I wish that Krakauer delved more deeply into McCandless's psychology and family history. Despite this criticism, I found the book to be a well-reported and fascinating glimpse into the life of a uniquely American figure.
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This book wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I assumed the book would be an edited form of Chris's journal. (This was my mistake, and what lowered my opinion of the book greatly.) The author of the book jumps around an awful lot in the story often repeating himself, and repeating himself. He also gets off track by telling his own story and numerous other peoples' stories. There are some similarities, ie both people went into the wilderness never to be herd from again, but that is about all you learn of the people he randomly brings up. The book as it's told would have been a lot better off as a 103 page novel instead of 203 pages.
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I really enjoyed this book....not quite as much as Into Thin Air but this was still a very interesting read. Krakauer is a great author.
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Heartbreaking tale of a man trying to escape the brutalities of modern society.
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very interesting and a very quick read.
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krakauer at his best. an incredible story pieced together. outside magazine story that turned into a book.
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This is a very interesting true story of a young man's journey. Excellently researched, pieced together, and written. The story will stay with you for days.
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This is a true story of a man who got rid of almost everything he had to invent a new life for himself in Alaska. It is on the National Bestseller list.
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Definitely not what I expected when I started reading the book. I thought the story was going to be about only one person but ended up covering several different people and what they did or did not do. None of the others even compared to what was supposed to be a story about a single individual.
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GREAT true adventure book!
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I like all of Jon Krakauer books. I thought "Into Thin Air" was a great book. This is also a fascinating book into what would motivate a man to wonder into the wilds of Alaska. Hard to put down.
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A terrifying true story!
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I wouldn't say this was the best book I've ever read, but it was a good read. I always like to read the book before I watch the movie.
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really interesting true story of a young man from wealthy family decided to go into the wilderness of Alaska and see what it's all about and what happens to him. . . most likely. If you like Jon Krakauer you'll like this book by him. Its a shorter book so fun to read
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Sad but well told story of adventure and exploration for a young man.
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Heartrending nonfiction book about a young man who hitchhiked to Alaska to invent a new life for himself in the wilderness.
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This young man became disillusioned with the society he knew. As so often happens with our youth he wanted to "Find himself." The way others perceived him he did not see in himself. He made lasting caring friends where ever he went. He was loved by family and friends. I know he loved them back. But that was not enough for him. He always knew there was more to life and wanted to taste the adventure it had to offer. He had a curious soul. A yearning to explore what he had not experienced in his "Structured life." Such a journey he took in his short life. While it cost him greatly he did live his dream and was ready to go back to the real world. I wonder if he had made it what his life would have been like. Was the adventure fulfilling and was he ready? I am not sure that he would ever have found true happiness in the society he left behind. He was a complex young man and I doubt the hum drum existence that lay ahead would ever have satisfied that adventurous soul.
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Tragic, but poignant and hard to put down. Jon Krakauer is an impressive writer. This is an engaging read.
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A heart rending drama of human yearning. True story of a young man who walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his body was found by a moose hunter.

A riviting, tragic story, well told. The author has captured the sad saga of a stubborn, idealistic young man.
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A powerful true story about a young man's hubris and folly. I found myself crying throughout the book, which I rarely do, so I apologise to anyone who gets my copy if they find many tear-stained pages.
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This was such a good book. This young man decided to give up everything and go to Alaska. He walked into the wilderness and was not seen again. Such a sad story that someone would do that and then not try to get back to civilization before it was too late. I have not read a bad book by Jon Krakauer.
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I love Jon Krakauer books but this one particularly hits a nerve. Most people look at Christopher Mccandless and heedles reckless idiot but As I have said on my FB account he made an educated descision based on his Circumstances and it should not be repeated by 20 something wanna be's which Unfortunately is something that is trying to be repeated. I have watched the movie and that's what prompted me to read the book. It is incredibly powerful book of what it means to live, what happens when we take our parents mistakes and indisgression too close to heart and the Human will to carve out an identity separate from the Band wagon.
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One of my favorite non-fiction books. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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This was a very interesting account of a young man from a well-to-do family, who decided to spend time by himself in the wilderness of Alaska.
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In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska. Christopher Johnson had given $25k in savings to charity, abandoned his car and possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet and invented a new life for himself. Four months later his decomposed body was found......
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Very interesting story. Book a little worn.
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This is not hardcover In April 1992 a young mand from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless.He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter...

Taken from the back of the book
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If Chris McCandless had survived the growing up, he might have written this generation's next great bildungsroman.

I'd heard of this book and kept running across references to it but kept putting off reading it as I wasn't really thrilled with the premise.

Chris McCandless was a young man in search of his place in the world. A graduate of Emory University. A good student, a personable young man, but a bit of a loner who'd been scarred growing up (as so many are) and who felt compelled to go on a prolonged search for what mattered.

What I feared was that a non-fiction modern day story that paralleled - at least in part, Hatchet and/or My Side of the Mountain but in a self inflicted way would be more aggravating to me than enlightening. Given the outcome of the protagonist which I'd learned early on in my hearing about this work, I was afraid that the annoyance of wondering why would outweigh the sense of wonder that others suggested that the book engendered.

Plus several mentions that the author had padded the book with "extra material" to make it of sufficient length were worrisome.

However upon listening to this book, I can see the fascination that it holds, particularly for dreamers and the young at heart. The "extra material" was not just padding for length but had a legitimate place and added perspective to the story. It does add background & reinforcement and brings this individual's journey into perspective. The story felt to me like a particularly male story and I'm sure that it will appeal to younger male readers more than to to female readers but that may just be the perspective of this male reader and the writing of a male author.

One strange reaction that I had that others will most likely not have. Listening to this reminded me of travelogues I attended long ago as a child in Petosky. Back then, constant traveler Stan Midgely went to places that I had no real desire to see but his charismatic presentation made even those out of the way places interesting for a while. The skill of this author and the narrative talents of the reader here fulfilled that same role.

While I'm not sure that I'd have stuck with the printed book, the audio version had a way of getting me past the parts that might have ended my reading.

I'm still not sure that anyone really understands fully the character of Chris McCandless but his dying has undoubtedly added a tragic luster to what could otherwise be seen as entirely boneheaded endeavor. And yet, there are elements of the heroic about this young man's quest for independence, enlightenment and meaning. And his hubris was actually quite small considering the outcome.

The author was a sympathetic soul and really allowed readers who've never labored under these particular strains of compulsion to understand what those who are quick to dismiss as quixotic foolishness.

One of the joys of reading is that we can partake of the experiences of others without suffering all the same injuries and risks. This book is a great example of that. I would recommend this book to others as a good read but not a good role model. Here's a good chance to gain some wisdom and some perspective that cost someone else his life.

Note: Immediately after finishing the book, I watched the movie version and it actually helped me enjoy parts of the book that had seemed unimportant before. It did a good job of skimming away much of the "added" material" about the stories of others. It did seem to accentuate the domestic violence aspects of the story which surprised me given that the parents were thanked in the credits as they were. It also added a sexual attraction storyline that I was worried would have perverted one of the underlying precepts of Chris's journey.
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From the front cover " In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness......he had given $25.000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car amd most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself..."
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From the New York Times- "Terrifying...Eleoquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning."
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I couldn't finish it. I know they rate it very high, but I couldn't get into the story...and I knew it was going to have a sad ending.
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Slightly boring, not conclusive
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Couldn't stand finishing this book about an idiot.
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A young man from a well-to-do family hichhikes to alaska and walked along into the wilderness north of Mt.McKinley.Four months later,his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.....
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I am a fan of Jon Krakauer and this did not dissapoint. Interested view into the mind of the
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A tragic story about the Alaska wild and a man's breakdown
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amazing book about the life of Christopher McCandless
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Great read
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I really enjoyed this book. Well written good insights.
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An amazing story of survival in the wild.
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Non-fiction story of the quest and 1992 death of a wealthy young man who gives up everything to wander across N. America and ends up dead from starvation in Alaska.
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I read this book a long time ago and really enjoyed the mystery of it.
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"Terrifying.... Eloquent.... A heart-rending drama of human yearning" -- The New York Times
A young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska
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In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. HIs name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found my a moose hunter...
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requested for school requirement.
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This book changed my life!
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EXCELLENT!
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A story about one of us who just gets into the out of doors a bit too wildly. Much to his end. Compelling read.
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A great supplement to the movie. I highly recommend both!!!
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Very good read.
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This ISBN is a paperback and NOT hardcover.
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After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature. Krakauer, a contributing editor to Outside and Men's Journal, retraces McCandless's ill-fated antagonism toward his father, Walt, an eminent aerospace engineer. Krakauer also draws parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father. In a moving narrative, Krakauer probes the mystery of McCandless's death, which he attributes to logistical blunders and to accidental poisoning from eating toxic seed pods.
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An interesting tale of stupidity. If you are looking for a "devil-may-care" character with brains in his head, read Edward Abbey.
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Jon Krakauer is an excellent writer. I really felt as if I got to know Chris McCandless and I have since saught out Krakauer's other books. One of those "can't put it down" books.
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In April 1992 a young man from a welltodo family yhitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a muoose hunter...
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very good book. also with bookcrossing.com
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I did not read this, my husband did. He said he could not put it down.
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Haven't read this book, it's in brand new condition!