Read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer Online


What would possess a gifted young man recently graduated from college to literally walk away from his life?...

Title : Into the Wild
Author :
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ISBN : 9780330351690
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 206 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Into the Wild Reviews

  • Melinda
    2019-05-02 00:41

    This book is a wonderful cautionary tale. I will probably read it again with my daughter when she is old enough to discuss it. Unfortunately, I'm afraid the reason most people will read the book and see the new upcoming movie, is for a different reason. Chris McCandless (in the book, and from what I understand in the movie), is a hero and courageous for flying in the face of everything he grew up with to find a better way. A young man unhappy with the materialism, hunger, and waste in the world; angry with his father for not being a perfect father to him; intellectually superior, a fantastic athlete in top condition... and yet a young man who died because of his own decisions and his own actions. He cut off ties to his family, hitchhiked and worked his way to Alaska, headed "into the wild" in April 1992, and was found dead in August 1992 most probably from starvation. How wonderful to "fight against the odds" and "ask real questions". Unfortunately, Chris didn't really fight against any odds, he took the easy way out by cutting off real relationships. Chris may have asked real questions, but he denied real people the opportunity to answer them in any way, because he had already decided what was "the right way". This is not heroic. It is immaturity. It is tragic and sad, yes, but not heroic or courageous.After reading the book, I think Chris died because he was foolish. Intellectually bright, yes. Athletically gifted, yes. But he had no wisdom. Wisdom has been defined as "skill in living", and wisdom is not always bestowed on the young and the healthy and the intellectually smart. The opposite of wisdom is foolishness. His anger and questioning drove him not to wisdom, but to self-reliance and an overweening arrogance in his own ability to "get through it". Well, we see the result of those decisions and those attitudes.... to quote Darwin, Chris is an example of how "survival of the fittest" applies. Chris was not "fit", therefore he did not "survive". But why wasn't he fit? He was smart and young and gifted in many ways, but he chose to abandon relationships and abandon those who loved him and create himself anew with no relationships and no ties. He walked away from people who loved him, made friends with people who came to love him, and walked away from all of that to find his answers "in the wild" on his own. The way away from love and relationship leads not to life, but indeed to death. And death is what Chris got.The book quotes Chris' mother as saying, "I haven't prayed since we lost him." (pg. 202) An older man who befriended Chris, Ronald Franz, also says, "When Alex left for Alaska, I prayed. I asked God to keep his finger on the shoulder of that one; I told him that boy was special. But he let Alex die. So on December 26, when I learned what had happened, I renounced the Lord. I withdrew my church membership and became an atheist. I decided I couldn't believe in a God who would let something that terrible happen to a boy like Alex." (pg. 60) But God didn't do anything to Chris, except let him do as he wanted? If Chris sought real answers to his hard questions, God is there, and God can help, but you have to know you need help and submit to someone wiser than you. Chris McCandless never submitted willingly to anyone, and he certainly never admitted anyone else had teaching or wisdom for him. He was smarter than everyone else, better able to see the truth than anyone else. So the heritage Chris McCandless left is one that drives his mother to stop praying, and converts an old man to atheism. Is this the heritage anyone would want?So read this book, but read it with questions in mind. Why are we lauding a young man as a hero who was actually a foolish man? What kind of society are we in where real courage and real heroism are somehow playing 2nd fiddle to selfishness and arrogance? When are you so intellectually intelligent that you become stupid? Is there any time when foolish decisions could be called "courageous"? In a search for truth and what really matters in life, is it acceptable to think nothing of hurting those people who are most vulnerable to you? When you die, will the way you lived your life cause others to abandon their faith or grow in their faith? Is it ever courageous to be selfish and think only of yourself? Is it harder to walk away from a relationship, or to stay in a relationship and work on making it better? Would you ever teach anyone else that the way to have real relationships is to limit yourself only to those people who cannot ever hurt you?Real courage, real heroism comes when you love others and you serve others. Real courage has nothing selfish in it. Fathers and husbands who remain with their families and provide for them, even though they would rather have a mid-life crisis and leave it all, they are courageous and heroic. They remain, they work, they don't father or husband perfectly, but they remain in difficult relationships. It courageous to stay in the hard parts of life, and try. Mothers and wives who sacrifice and serve again and again and again without books being written about them, without thanks, but who continue to love and give of themselves to others. That is courageous. It is hard to stay in messy relationships. It is easy to leave. It is courageous to stay and do hard things. It is easy to leave and do what you want.So, let's read this book, but read it as a cautionary tale. This is what happens when you seemingly 'have it all', but have not love. When you die, will people be driven to become atheists? Will people stop praying when you are dead? Or will you live a life of wisdom and love? Will you leave behind you a heritage of godly love and service? Will people pray more because of the example you left them? Will they be more loving, better mothers or fathers or sisters or brothers? Or will they become angry and arrogant and foolishness? Yes, this is a good book to read. But let's read it for the right reasons and with the right questions.[NOTE: In the book, and in the movie, the author proposes that Chris ate some poison berries which caused his death. But tests have been made around the area, and plants that would have been available to Chris were tested, and no toxic berries or plants have been found. The truth is probably that he starved. Too few calories coming in, high expenditure of calories for hunting and keeping warm resulted eventually in such a calorie deficit that he died.] Some good articles I found on Chris McCandless include: Park Ranger Peter Christian wrote: “I am exposed continually to what I will call the ‘McCandless Phenomenon.’ People, nearly always young men, come to Alaska to challenge themselves against an unforgiving wilderness landscape where convenience of access and possibility of rescue are practically nonexistent […:] When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate. First off, he spent very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived at the Stampede Trail without even a map of the area. If he [had:] had a good map he could have walked out of his predicament […:] Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide.”[18:] Some may argue that this is what he wanted all along, given his troubled past****************An update as of Sept 2013 as to how McCandless died. See which documents the poison contained in wild potato seeds. Consuming these seeds introduces a neurotoxin into the body which results in lathyrism. This condition causes gradual paralysis which ultimately made McCandless very weak, unable to stand or walk, and thus unable to forage or hunt for food.

  • Dixie Diamond
    2019-05-27 03:28

    My grandfather--not an Alaskan but an experienced outdoorsman--would have tied this kid to a tree and let the bears play tetherball with him.A small part of me appreciates the effort Krakauer put into researching this book. A much bigger part of me is completely disgusted both with McCandless himself and with Krakauer's mindless adoration of him. Krakauer pulls out all the stops to make McCandless look like a phenomenon, and seems to agree with McCandless that the world should have handed itself to him on a silver salver because he was just so darned special. We're told he was brilliant, independent, funny, kind, musical, athletic, visionary, talented. Can you see the halo? Unfortunately, the impression that comes across is of a snotty adolescent who has never seriously thought of anyone but himself and is used to getting by on charm and flippancy rather than making good use of his considerable gifts (and I do not doubt that he was gifted). The conflicting aspects of his personality don't sound quirky; they sound devious and self-serving.Krakauer tries half-heartedly to disguise his fascination but his admissions that McCandless was a clueless young hothead sound insincere; he has to say it to sound credible to his readers, who are less smitten. Krakauer makes an apt comparison between himself as an idealistic and foolhardy young man, and McCandless, and then dismisses himself because "he didn't have [McCandless':] intellect". This sounds utterly bogus after all we have been told about McCandless' foolish mistakes, and the obvious fact that Krakauer is not stupid. Two chapters that could have provided some insight into his hero are wasted because Krakauer sounds like a religious fanatic, with McCandless as his unknowable God and Krakauer as the I'm-not-worthy follower.McCandless' (and Everett Ruess') overconfidence speaks to a fascination with nature but not a respect for it. Courage is not the same as not knowing when we ought to have a healthy degree of fear. Instead, McCandless arrogantly drives his car into the habitat of an endangered species of poppy. He butchers a moose, wasting the life of a beautiful and well-adapted animal because he could not be bothered to learn ahead of time how to preserve it.This was not a tragedy; this was inevitable. I don't believe he was schizophrenic or suicidal. Bipolar or ADD, maybe. His own friends readily admitted that he had a lot of enthusiasm but little common sense and didn't know much outside of academia. There are so many glaring outdoorsmanship errors made in the first two chapter that even I was cringing.I write this with full admission that I am not much of an outdoorsperson. However, I don't believe for a minute that he lasted longer than most of us would have, or that "at least he tried it", as so many of his fans insist. I wouldn't try it, not because I'm scared, but because I can tell from here that ten pounds of rice and no preparation is a recipe for failure. I don't need to try it, and if I did, I'd want to live to get something out of it. Lots of other people have gone into the wilderness and come out just fine because they knew the magnitude of their own insignificance and planned ahead.I'm not jealous of his alleged brilliance, either. I was accepted to Emory. And the University of Chicago. And a couple of other amply respected schools. Lots of people are. Big deal.1) His bourgeois status made his adventure possible in the first place. He had money to pay his college tuition; the rest of us graduated and went to work to pay off our loans. He also had the gall to complain about his parents' offers to help him out, which smacks of a kid given so much that he doesn't know how fortunate he is.Furthermore, living with nothing by choice is very different from living with nothing because you have no alternative. Though I'm sure he would have denied it, McCandless had the option of going back to his affluent life if he had wanted to, or if he had had to in an emergency. Maybe it would have knocked his self-image for a loop, but he would have been sheltered, fed, and nursed back to health. A lot of people live in poverty without that safety net. 2) Now is not the time to be squeamish about killing animals. Hint: There are no vegetarian Aleut. This guy was a history and anthropology major. I learned in anthro that you can eat plants and lean protein until you burst and still starve to death if you aren't getting enough calories. It's very difficult to feed yourself if you're alone and don't have a lot of practice at it.3) If he got this idea from Thoreau and London, he wasn't reading very carefully. McCandless should have read less Thoreau and more Donner Party. London's Alaskan experience was during the Klondike Gold Rush when he had plenty of help from others. Thoreau lived in a cabin on the edge of town, a mile and a half from the family home. He was not in the wilderness. Furthermore, Thoreau's civil disobedience was a protest against the Mexican War and slavery, not a petty defiance of matters of public safety such as mandatory car insurance. McCandless was a rebel without a cause.4) Book-smart can't save you now. Success-only learning does not work. Krakauer goes into raptures about McCandless' education and intelligence to demonstrate the supposed tragedy of his loss. Nice brain gymnastics, but apples to oranges when what you need is practical knowledge.This guy was idolized by some my college classmates, most of whom were sheltered, relatively wealthy urbanites. They had the same vague and pathetic need for "real" experiences and arrogant expectation of success that comes from never having failed at anything in their lives.5) For most of his trip, McCandless was neither independent or self-reliant. He got lost in Mexico; it would have been more self-reliant to get a map and take charge of his own navigation. He didn't eat for days until somebody felt sorry for him and fed him. Once he was in a situation where there was nobody to step in for him, he died (in this respect, I disagree with Krakauer that McCandless was any different from Carl McCunn). Even at that point, he left a note on the door of the bus begging for rescue.The best (and most independent) outdoorsmen spend years learning. Just because you were a superstar student and athlete doesn't mean you get to skip all the hard work. I've no doubt that McCandless was smart, but he was mind-bogglingly ignorant and inexperienced.6) Why are these self-discovery escapades always so self-centered? How about joining the Peace Corps? Teaching in inner-city schools? Working in healthcare in a remote South Asian village? If you're so disgusted with society, why don't you do something to improve it rather than keeping all the enlightenment for yourself?7) Nature is not your babysitter. Nature doesn't care if you live or die. It's survival of the fittest, and humans, compared to most animals, are slow, weak, poorly-armed, poorly-insulated, have no stamina; have poor senses of smell, eyesight, and hearing; and are ill-adapted to go without clean water and food for any length of time. We are clearly meant to live in groups and use tools. This guy didn't even bring an ax.8) He was already controlled and tainted by society or else he would not have worked so hard to avoid it. His anti-society and anti-materialism were as controlling of him as is the materialism of those who think they can "find themselves" by buying the right clothes or drug habit or SUV.9) Unprepared people who set out on ill-planned "adventures" and need to be rescued are jackasses. A lot of other people–-better-prepared, better-trained, and more sensible people such as park service, volunteers, and EMT's–-end up spending a lot of time and money, and risking their own necks, to save them. McCandless spared everyone that trouble, but I'm sure there's a whole line of wannabes lined up to try it. I hope they have to pay back every penny spent on their rescues.And Truth? The bad news is that Truth is relative. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. What a waste.

  • Matt
    2019-04-27 20:39

    I live a life, I suspect, that is much like yours. Wake up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, go to bed. At the end of this weekly desert, there might be a drink or ten to celebrate the victory over another five days of soul-crushing drudgery.I am a desk jockey. A paper pusher. I mean that literally; I sit in my office, and when people peer inside, they will see me moving a sheet of paper from one side to the other. It looks, to the untrained eye, like valuable labor. When I get the chance, though, I head to the mountains, to the wild. I love the away-ness of these trips. At the risk of sounding absurdly curmudgeonly, I like getting away from the crush of humanity (and I'm sure the crush of humanity appreciates my temporary absence). There was at time when my friends and I would head out west every summer. We picked a destination (isolated, challenging), packed the car, and plunged into the wilderness. We undertook silly risks, because we were younger and we laughed at consequences, or at the possibility that there were consequences. Once, a little later on, we gathered around a campfire, four of us, and swore - like characters from a young adult novel - that we'd always do this: that we'd always head out to the mountains together. Then we got older. My friends married, they started having kids, and the mountains became a memory, a slideshow of pictures that showed up on the screen savers of our computers. Friends with whom I'd jumped off cliffs, slid down glaciers, and climbed rocks matured overnight into sober professionals, husbands, and fathers. It was remarkable how age engendered caution, and squelched the desire for adventure. That was my mindset when I picked up Into the Wild. Jon Krakauer's classic is, to put it mildly, a polarizing book. Based on the people I've surveyed, I've found that you either love it or you hate it, and whether you love it or hate it will be determined by what you think about Christopher McCandless, the young man at the center of Into the Wild. You will be taken in by Chris's literate, philosophical, iconoclastic, boundary-pushing vagabondism. Or you will be sickened by his selfishness, his self-pity, and the way he left a shattered family in his wake. Either way, you will have a vivid response.Upon graduating from Emory University, and instead of going on to law school (which was my choice), McCandless gave away $25,000 to charity and began his life as a tramp (or hobo, as they sometimes like to be called). I was in sixth grade when McCandless walked into the Alaskan wilderness and never returned. He was 24. The power of Into the Wild is directly attributable to Krakauer's empathy for his subject. Krakauer is a solid adventure writer, but he's not a prose stylist. Rather, he uses his own life experiences to connect with Chris on a very intimate, personal level. He does not attempt any faux objectivity that is often the hallmark of "serious" serious journalism. Instead, Krakauer admits, straight up, that he saw his younger self in Chris, with the exception that Krakauer survived his youth, while Chris did not. For instance, there is an autobiographical section in Into the Wild where Krakauer tells his story about climbing the Devil's Thumb. This could easily have been a self-serving digression, but Krakauer uses that experience, and the vividness of his memory, to explore the the compulsions that drove Chris McCandless to follow his unique path to his destiny. I think Chris, in his own way, was a towering figure; he was the person I would like to be, if I had more guts and less excuses. He was a smart kid, a college grad, who came from money. His parents were messed up, but really, whose parents aren't? After college, instead of going to law school (don't go to law school, by the way), he gave away $25,000, burned his credit cards, and set out to see the west. Whatever else you call him, you can't call him a poser. Like everyone, he had his share of dreams and demons, and he set out to follow his dreams and fight his demons. There's something to be said for what he put his parent through. Still, the world forces us to be our own person. He went forward the best way he knew how, defining himself along the way. The tragedy, of course, is that the lessons he learned - about the value of friends and family - he learned too late. I don't really need to defend Chris. Krakauer does that. He is unabashedly in his corner, defending his choices, his skills, his desire to go alone to the far places, like John Muir before him. Chris McCandless was himself, fully and completely, which is saying a lot, in this day and age. Or any day and age. He was part adventurer, part philosopher, and part monk (the monk part fascinates Krakauer, who spends a lot of time wondering whether Chris died a virgin). I suppose a brief note on the movie, directed by Sean Penn, is in order. While I found it poetic and inspiring, the movie focuses too much on Chris's effect on the various people he meets on his journeys. In a way, Chris becomes some kind of wandering apostle, healing and helping those he meets along his path, before he dies a martyr's death in Alaska, a vision from a Don Maclean song ("the world was never meant for one as beautiful as you..."). The book, on the other hand, keeps Chris firmly grounded as a human being. Krakauer admires Chris, to be sure, but he does not neglect the warts. (However, Krakauer sharply dismisses those armchair psychiatrists who want to diagnose Chris with a mental disorder. I'm glad he does. I think it's saying soemething about the conformity of our society that anyone who bucks the trend (he gave up law school!?) is called mad). In the end, Chris was one of those rare people who wanted to know the world intimately, and in the process of discovering those secrets, was killed by that same world. Maybe there was something quixotic or foolish in his quest; maybe he should have taken a job, taken a wife, found a safe desk behind which to grow old. Or maybe there is something foolish in us, to believe that we can outlive the world with our caution.

  • Nadine
    2019-05-10 21:16

    Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this book. The genesis of the book was an in-depth magazine article, and I suspect that the article was superb. But I just don't think there's enough here to warrant an entire book. As evidence, I point to several lengthy chapters that have nothing to do with the underlying story--they discuss other people who have gone "into the wild" and, surprisingly, Krakauer includes a whole chapter about himself.My other problem is that I found myself unable to identify or empathize with the central character here. I think that Chris McCandless was not much more than a privileged, entitled, selfish, and undeniably intelligent person who threw everything away and nearly destroyed his family for reasons that weren't any clearer by the end of the book than they were at the beginning. I worried far more about his parents and his sister, who he called his "best friend," than I did about him.I ended up "finishing" the book by skimming the last 1/3, or maybe even the last 1/2. I almost gave this only 1 star but decided to go with 2 because I want to give Krakauer the benefit of the doubt--it's a well-written book, I just don't think it needed to be written at all.

  • Traci
    2019-05-15 20:32

    I love Jon Krakauer. I didn't find one single thing about the Alex McCandless even remotely interesting. He came across as a spoiled brat with no concept of reality - basically because of his priveleged upbringing. But somehow, he blamed his parents for that void of myopic self absorption. I live in Alaska and I've lived in Idaho and Colorado and Oregon . . . basically AROUND people who love the great outdoors. I am more comfortable in a heated coffee shop READING about the great outdoors. Still, I know that heading into any forest - particularly one at that latitude and altitude in pursuit of adventure with (a) no food, (b) no gear, (c) no plan and (d) no backup plan is nothing short of delusional or maybe just stupid.I absolutely adore Jon Krakauer's attempts to explain Alex's possible motives and angst. I get that Krakauer identifies with some of what gnawed at Alex . . . that discontent . . . that feeling that life can't possibly be this pointless . . . etc. I wonder about those things with fairly consistent frequency. I suppose I have my own means of stamping those feelings out (alternating burst of extreme carbohydrate consumption and running or spinning; work and volunteerism). Still, the fact that Alex died of exposure in an abandoned bus in Denali National Park is less poignant than poetic - justice, that is. Darwinism, if you want to be cruel. (Cringe) That sounded really awful, didn't it? But Krakauer carefully paints a picture of a young man completely disillusioned with the life that his parents provided for him, the future they groomed him for. A life easier, better than theirs. He points to his parents' mistakes and flaws as lightening rods for Alex's rejection of them and his pursuit of deeper understanding. What a luxury. One that we all pursue at some point in our lives and if we have any sense, grow out of. I was constantly irritated with Alex for hitching, homelessness, biting every hand that tried to feed him. His lonely, desperate death not at all surprising and not terribly sad, either . . . except for what it put his family through. I had no interest in seeing the movie. I saw trailer images of a young man looking off into the wildnerness with depth and intensity and that is NOT the Alex McCandless I got to know in the book. If Sean Penn managed to paint a more enlightened image of Alex, then he deviated from the book quite a bit.

  • StevenGodin
    2019-05-13 00:32

    In 1992, roughly around the same time Chris McCandless was living out his final days in the Alaskan wilderness, I would have been enjoying the summer holidays before embarking on my final year at school, contemplating the big wide world and what I was going to do with the rest of my life. It wasn't until watching Sean Penn's film in 2008 I would learn of Chris's story, a story that moved me, immensely.I always presumed Jon Krakauer's book would be some huge epic, but was surprised on finding out it's a little over 200 pages. I simply had to read it, just don't know why it took me so long. It's going to be difficult to review this without making my own thoughts on Chris known first. Although it isn't as straightforward as this, taking everything into consideration, if there is to be a camp criticism and a camp McCandless, then I firmly sit with McCandless. He was an awe-inspiring bright young man, who simply broke free from the establishment to follow his own path, a path, going by both book and film that was simply stunning. I know there are people that criticized his adventure as reckless, stupid, dangerous and well unequipped for the treacherous landscape of wild Alaska, and were even angry with him, that he deserved what was coming to him, disrespecting nature. Let's not forget something, he probably died a slow agonizing death that you wouldn't wish on anybody, why the anger from people who didn't even know him? it was nobody else's business what Chris chose to undertake. As the old saying goes, it's a free country. And he was just that, free.I do feel for his family of course, I can't begin to imagine the pain and anguish they would have had to injure, and the fact he didn't try to contact his sister Karine, who he was dearly close to, was strange. I just hope his family came to eventually realize that the two years Chris spent on the road he would have been immensely happy. That's got to count for something. Had he gone on to work, no doubt well paid work, you get the impression he just wouldn't want to be there. Had Chris been some wacko or mentally incapacitated person I would have taken far more pity over his story, but he wasn't, he was highly intelligent and knew exactly what he was doing. That's why, although he came to a sad end, I am still on the whole, happy for the guy.The strongest parts of the book for me are actually not the last months in Alaska (which had to be recreated based on Chris’ diary and the evidence found at the site of his death), but the memories of people whom Chris had met on his travels, with whom he had caught rides, worked and stayed, struck up friendships. I was especially moved by the generosity of strangers and by Chris’s run in with 81 year old Ron Franz, whom he managed to convince to give up the monotonous life and take up adventure. These two years of traveling had no boundaries, no obligations, no limitations, no expectations. Just exploring the land, exploring life, and himself. Jon Krakauer also included memories from his own youth, trying to draw comparisons with Chris, along with some other historical journey's similar to what McCandless embarked on. Chris was a keen reader, and used literature as a way to inspire him on the road, there were quotes from the likes of Leo Tolstoy, Jack London, Henry David Thoreau and Wallace Stegner that he noted down in his diary, these play an important role for any outsider trying to understand just who Chris was.The book works wonders on different levels, it deals with non fiction in a dramatic storytelling way, like an adventure novel, but also stays as close as possible to the facts and truths recovered from Chris's diary. I didn't think his epic story could be condensed down to 200 pages, but it works, only concentrating on the things that truly matter. I was moved to the core. Not many books have had the opportunity to do this to me.One shouldn’t judge a life by its end or its duration, but by its content. Chris may have died young, but his life certainly was a fulfilling one.

  • Petra X
    2019-05-11 01:30

    We are all heroes to ourselves. McCandless was, Krakauer is. This doesn't vary. All that varies is how we define heroism and how much, or how little, we are prepared to do to for that stance.In order to get people, usually young men, to sacrifice their lives we tell them of those that went before and tell them they were heroes who died for their countries, died for their principles, died even for their dreams. Impractical dreams that are the province of the young. And those who would be heroes never concern themselves with the practical, that is far too mundane, it is for others to take care of those details. McCandless' dream of heroism was to survive entirely alone and entirely off the land at the ends of the earth. It didn't include the practicality of learning about the wild foods he might forage in that area, or how he might survive in extreme weather conditions, or even exactly where his place of solitude was situated so that when he sought succour at the end, he didn't even know how close it really was. The final photograph he took of himself is of a wasted face, gaunt but beautiful with the shining eyes of one who has lived his dream and is satisfied. Then he died.

  • Dini
    2019-05-02 00:31

    This book got me riveted in the tragic story of Chris McCandless, a young man who left his family and friends, abandoned most of his material possessions, went to the Alaska wilderness and perished there. The author does a great job of portraying McCandless complex personality through meticulous research based on interviews, letters and journal entries. The writing is so engaging that although it is already clear from the beginning how McCandless' story would end, I was hooked till the last page. Krakauer only digresses when discussing his own high-risk undertaking and those of ill-fated adventurers similar to McCandless — these parts offer comparison to McCandless' character but I found myself getting impatient and wanting them to end quickly, to return to the main story itself which is much more compelling.Readers have been divided with regard to this story. Some admire McCandless' daring and idealism; some others say he was stupid, reckless and arrogant enough to have gone to Alaska without sufficient preparation. I think he was a human being with faults and merits, but I have to admit I felt something stirring in me when I read this passage, taken from a letter he wrote to a friend:"...make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation... The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure."The passage resonates with me because my life has been filled with stagnation and inactivity. I am the queen of conservatism. I don't consider myself unhappy, but I'm always afraid of moving outside the comfort zone, of expanding further than my own comfortable little shell. I often don't exert myself to my best capabilities because halfhearted efforts seemed good enough. When I read about McCandless, I noticed that one of his admirable traits is if he wanted something he went out and did it. He was not afraid of challenges, the greater they are the better. Jason Mraz says "live high, live mighty, live righteously". I think that was what McCandless did: he lived up to his ideals. One the other hand, the greatest tragedy of McCandless' life, in my opinion, was his conflicting feelings toward human intimacy and relationship. He clashed with his parents and others who didn't share his beliefs to the point that he spurned humanity and sought nature and the wilderness instead. But even during his solitary journeys he met a lot of people and connected with them, touching their lives as well as his own. His final odyssey in Alaska had probably made him realize, more than ever, the raw need for companionship, but he didn't survive that trip — causing endless grief to his family. So in the end, if there is something I can take from McCandless story, it is this message: Be bold. Get out there. Do something. But don't forget those who love you.

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-05-18 19:18

    On the outside looking in, this seems like another case of arrogant human vs unassuming nature. Nature usually wins that fight. It did here and in a most tragic way. And yet, in Into the Wild Jon Krakauer does an excellent job of muddying up the waters, so that they flow with the natural fluidity of life itself. Was this kid so very unprepared? Was this a foolhardy and unnecessary death easily avoided with a few, slight precautions? Life is seldom black and white, cut and dry. Krakauer reminds us of that, while telling a riveting story.

  • Fabian
    2019-05-18 23:40

    The article written by J. Krakauer was totally enlarged to make this, an obsessive journalistic account of an obsession. I am sure that the core of it is included in this 200 pg book somewhere (the anecdote: young incompetent kid dies out in the wilderness); it should be short and sweet, however it is exhaustively stretched out (obviously to capitalize on the popular story) to include stories of the own writer himself as a kid (conceited!!!) plus brief accounts by people who met the young mentally ill man. Also, there's a long (but interesting) section which includes tales of other intrepid nonconformist isolationists. Why couldn't this kid just learn his lesson on moderation? Had this dude been into heroin instead, the results would have been strikingly similar (minus, of course, the book).

  • Maudeen Wachsmith
    2019-05-21 03:16

    I first read Into the Wild ten years ago when it first came out after finding out that parts of it are set in Carthage, Miner County, South Dakota pop. 187, a town where my mother has family and where her cousin was once mayor. My great-grandmother is buried in Howard, the Miner county seat. So that was the book and movie’s initial appeal. I mean this town is the true “blink-and-you-miss-it” town. That is, if one would ever even happen to drive through it as it isn’t on a main road. So I wondered, how young Chris McCandless, the subject of the book and movie ended up in Carthage in the first place.Then I read that Sean Penn was finally making a movie adapted from the book and filming in Carthage. I thought it would be really interesting to see Carthage on the big screen. The first day it was showing in our little theater here in town I Shanghaied my husband (who really isn’t a movie goer, in fact if you ask him, on a scale of 1-10, that he’d suggest going to a movie as a form of entertainment he’d probably tell you –2) into going with me for the matinee. Now John had seen the Oprah show where Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch (who portrays young McCandless in the film) were guests along with author Jon Krakauer and didn’t think too much of McCandless so he was even less excited than usual about seeing this film. If he had known ahead of time that it was 140 minutes long he’d probably had left the theater after his first carton of Milk Duds. But the trooper he is, he persevered for my sake.The movie adequately told the story of young Christopher McCandless who after graduating from Emory University, took off on a two year road trip, calling himself Alexander Supertramp. Very early on his car was destroyed and he abandoned it, burned what little money he had left and took off on foot. Some one say he was idealist others an adventurer, but others just reckless. Everyone seems to have his or her own opinion. What is clear is that he was found two year later dead in an abandoned bus just north of Denali National Park in Alaska. However his adventures along the way and the people he met tell a very interesting story. And the just how he died is still fodder for speculation although Krakauer does give his theory. Hirsch as McCandless is wonderful – his portrayal deserves an Oscar nomination as does that of Hal Holbrook as Ron Franz, the elderly recluse who befriends him. Told mostly in flashbacks, the movie suffers from uneven editing. I was also disappointed in the cinematography—the Alaskan scenes could have been brilliant but they were just average. That said, the South Dakota prairie was breathtaking. And it was fun to see Carthage. I think the entire town was filmed.After watching the movie, I was compelled to read the book again. At only 207 pages it’s a fairly quick read. It was even more meaningful after watching the movie. I read many passages out loud to my husband and told him I thought he might change his opinion of McCandless. He is now reading the book. I don’t have the absolutely negative opinion of young Chris as many people have. He was a bit reckless, that’s for sure. But no more than many young men. As Krakauer mentions late in the book, it’s that attribute of daring that contributes to many young men signing up for the military—particularly in times of war. Yes, he did some things wrong. But don’t we all. The only reason that we’re reading about him was that he made some little mistakes that ended up killing him. He was actually a smart kid and I found a lot in him to be admired. It was sad he had to die. Any loss of life is sad. And that is what bothers me the most. That a parent lost a child, that a sister lost a brother, that a world lost a promising young man. There are lessons to be learned here, of course, but was the price too great?

  • Paul
    2019-05-18 23:28

    This book seems to divide people. One group seems to think McCandless was a visionary; a free-thinking, wild spirit who lived his dream and died an unfortunate, tragic death. The other group thinks he was a stupid kid; an ill-prepared daydreamer who brought his demise upon himself due to his own idiocy.I think it's entirely possible he was both. In my experience, the two states are not mutually exclusive. The one thing that's clearly true is that his death was avoidable and tragic. Whichever camp you fall into, this is an upsetting tale.What also upsets me is that, due to the media picking up on this case, with various newspaper and magazine articles being written about it, a movie being made and (the surefire win for anyone looking to be a teenage martyr) a soundtrack album being recorded by hipster messiah Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, McCandless is being promoted as an inspirational figure for impressionable young people.I can only hope that they will take this sad tale onboard as a cautionary tale, rather than one to emulate.

  • Jonathan Ashleigh
    2019-05-07 19:28

    I don't know why everyone went so wild over this book or this kid - is there one without the other? It seems like people only cared because it was a Jon Krakauer book that translated well to Hollywood. The guy in the book didn't even have enough material about himself to make a whole book and every other chapter is about some other person who did a similar "disappearance into nature." Dying because you don't know how to take care of yourself in the wild is no reason for society to glorify your life.

  • Heidi The Hippie Reader
    2019-05-26 03:30

    "Not all those who wander are lost" seems to be the focus of this non-fiction biography by Krakauer about a young man named Chris McCandless who went into the Alaskan wilderness, but never came out again. Krakauer examines McCandless' history, friendships, and probable motivations while also comparing his case to other young men who died or disappeared in the wilderness. He also gets very personal and recounts a solo mountain climbing adventure of his own that nearly went south, but didn't- crediting his survival to luck rather than skill. Into the Wild paints McCandless as a man with a brilliant mind and the soul of an artist, who didn't fit in to the modern world's or his family's view of how he was supposed to be."In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters." pg 10, ebook. For much of the book, Krakauer tries to figure out what ultimately ended McCandless's life. In the edition I read, he had a new afterword that he penned in April 2015, talking about his definitive theory for why McCandless died. If you haven't read the book since it was published, I really recommend picking up a new edition if only to read that.Krakauer includes actual journal entries from McCandless's wanderings, which I thought gave us a pretty clear window into the man's mind: "It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it's great to be alive! Thank you. Thank you." pg 37, ebook. We saw a man who cared about life, about the way he was living, and about the way he interacted with others.It is curious to me that his relationship with his parents wasn't better, but I'll let Krakauer tell you all about it: "McCandless's personality was puzzling in its complexity. He was intensely private but could be convivial and gregarious in the extreme. And despite his overdeveloped social conscience, he was no tight-lipped, perpetually grim do-gooder who frowned on fun. To the contrary, he enjoyed tipping a glass now and then and was an incorrigible ham." pg 95As interesting as McCandless's story is, my favorite part of this book was Krakauer's experience solo climbing the Devil's Thumb in Alaska. "By and by your attention becomes so intensely focused that you no longer notice the raw knuckles, the cramping thighs, the strain of maintaining nonstop concentration. A trancelike state settles over your efforts; the climb becomes a clear-eyed dream. Hours slide by like minutes. The accumulated clutter of day-to-day existence- the lapses of conscience, the unpaid bills, the bungled opportunities, the dust under the couch, the inescapable prison of your genes- all of it is temporarily forgotten, crowded from your thoughts by an overpowering clarity of purpose and by the seriousness of the task at hand." pg 115, ebook. That passage made me wonder- what sorts of things do I like to do in my life as much as Krakauer loves climbing? It seems to me, that the state of flow he's describing there, would be a place that I would like to dwell in as much as possible.Recommended for folks who like to read about people with unconventional life styles or if you're looking for a book about the human spirit. Into the Wild is a book about why people wander, what they may find, and, sadly, the loved ones they leave behind. Some further reading: Naked and Marooned: One Man. One Island., Man's Search for Meaning, or A Death on Diamond Mountain: A True Story of Obsession, Madness, and the Path to Enlightenment.

  • Jason
    2019-05-02 21:32

    This is a great book and I was totally enthralled. Krakauer’s writing is spectacular. It is such a personal story, made so not just by the author detailing his own experiences mountaineering, but also by incorporating McCandless’s family in the suffering and loss of their son. Yet somehow Krakauer keeps it all grounded, presenting a strategically balanced view of McCandless himself despite what I must imagine to be a profound desire either to glorify him in his admirable quest for self-reliance, or to vilify him for the reckless audacity he demonstrated along the way. Or perhaps both.Because that’s the thing about McCandless’s story. It isn’t so much that it’s difficult not to form an opinion of him one way or the other; it’s that any opinion formed is bound to be fluid, rapidly shifting from veneration to condemnation and back again. It’s fair to say McCandless was an estimable guy, not just talking in rhetoric about the societal evils of homelessness and hunger but actually going out and attempting to do something about it. It’s also fair to say he was kind of an asshole, treating his parents with relentless cruelty on account of some unrealistic moral standards he for some reason held them to. But he wasn’t an asshole for going to Alaska, seemingly unpreparedly, and succumbing to what he should have known better to avoid. For that he was only a kid, a kid who took big risks (as kids are wont to do), but ultimately a kid who just got unlucky.One thing I kept thinking about while reading this book is the idea of self-reliance. Because it isn't really an absolute, right? There are degrees to which one can be self-reliant. I mean, even Thoreau went into town periodically to buy tools or to barter for whatever. Does that invalidate his approach? Did McCandless take the concept to an extreme by forsaking a map because maps are drawn by other human beings? (The answer to that is YES.) But by the same token, what is wrong with categorizing our own lives as “self-reliant” if we are able to perform all of our daily tasks without the assistance of others? I don’t really endorse this argument, by the way. I’m only saying that I think there is value in striving toward a state of self-reliance, but I simultaneously hold that survivability will certainly drop to zero the closer one actually comes to completely attaining it.

  • Diane
    2019-05-09 23:26

    I love this book so much that I have not yet been able to write a traditional review. The story of Chris McCandless resonated deeply with me, and Jon Krakauer's writing gave me insight into loved ones who reminded me of Chris. I have reread "Into the Wild" many times over the years, and each time I have found something new to appreciate. My paperback copy is heavily marked and underlined, and it is so dear to me that I never plan on giving it up. One of these days I hope I can bring myself to write more about this amazing work. Highly recommended for anyone who loves the great outdoors, or for those who know what it is like to search for something deeper than yourself.Favorite Quotes:"I have always been unsatisfied with my life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly.""Children can be harsh judges when it comes to their parents, disinclined to grant clemency, and this was especially true in Chris's case. More even than most teens, he tended to see things in black and white. He measured himself and those around him by an impossibly rigorous moral code.""As a youth, I am told, I was willful, self-absorbed, intermittently reckless, moody. I disappointed my father in the usual ways. Like McCandless, figures of male authority aroused in me a confusing medley of corked fury and hunger to please. If something captured my undisciplined imagination, I pursued it with a zeal bordering on obsession.""My father was a volatile, extremely complicated person, possessed of a brash demeanor that masked deep insecurities. If he ever in his entire life admitted to being wrong, I wasn't there to witness it.""I had been granted unusual freedom and responsibility at an early age, for which I should have been grateful in the extreme, but I wasn't. Instead, I felt oppressed by the old man's expectations. It was drilled into me that anything less than winning was failure. In the impressionable way of sons, I did not consider this rhetorically; I took him at his word. And that's why later, when long-held family secrets came to light, when I noticed that this deity who asked only for perfection was himself less than perfect, that he was in fact not a deity at all — well, I wasn't able to shrug it off. I was consumed by a blinding rage. The revelation that he was merely human, and frightfully so, was beyond my power to forgive.""[O]ne of McCandless's friends had mused that Chris 'was born into the wrong century. He was looking for more adventure and freedom than today's society gives people.' In coming to Alaska, McCandless yearned to wander uncharted country, to find a blank spot on the map. In 1992, however, there were no more blank spots on the map — not in Alaska, not anywhere. But Chris, with his idiosyncratic logic, came up with an elegant solution to this dilemma: He simply got rid of the map. In his own mind, if nowhere else, the terra would thereby remain incognita.""An extended stay in the wilderness inevitably directs one's attention outward as much as inward, and it is impossible to live off the land without developing both a subtle understanding of, and a strong emotional bond with, that land and all it holds.""It would be easy to stereotype Christopher McCandless as another boy who felt too much, a loopy young man who read too many books and lacked even a modicum of common sense. But the stereotype isn't a good fit. McCandless wasn't some feckless slacker, adrift and confused, racked by existential despair. To the contrary: His life hummed with meaning and purpose. But the meaning he wrested from existence lay beyond the comfortable path: McCandless distrusted the value of things that came easily. He demanded much of himself — more, in the end, than he could deliver."

  • Maria Espadinha
    2019-05-03 00:46

    Tudo, Tudo e NadaChris McCandless tinha Tudo - família, dinheiro a potes, e logo que concluísse os estudos, aguardava-o uma carreira promissora.Chris McCandless tinha Tudo, sim!Tinha um Tudo que era um Nada dissimulado!Dir-se-ia que esse famigerado tudo pertencia a outro que não ele, a um falso Chris que sufocava e amordaçava o jovem aventureiro de gema - um amante de Desafios, Liberdade e Autenticidade!...Só aniquilando, reduzindo a cinzas esse Chris forjado, é que o verdadeiro Chris poderia finalmente emergir!...Por conseguinte, num impulso radical e selvagem, Chris larga tudo e todos, rumando ao Alaska, essa terra inóspita que será a grandiosa parteira do seu Ser...Chris era humano como nós e teremos certamente muitos defeitos a apontar-lhe. Não obstante, a incessante busca de si mesmo é um tocante ponto de inspiração.Por muito longa que seja uma vida, se não nos colarmos aos nossos sonhos, será falsa - uma vida que vivemos como nossa, sem que todavia nos pertença!Soterramos aquilo que somos! Morremos sem nunca ter nascido!...

  • Luís C.
    2019-05-01 21:40

    A book is always a new meeting, expected, happy or not, but always full of promise. It's mostly an appointment in the order of intimacy with an author. A special bond with his characters and script. Into the wild, this is my meeting with Christopher McCandless. Young man, brilliant, selfless and wise, he decided to get rid of a world become too narrow for him. A urban wildlife, he preferred the open spaces away from hypocrisy, excessive consumption and standards imposed by society. Up to leave his and to give his name, Chris becomes Alexander Supertramp, hermit fascinating and jovial.There are persons with that could have liked to know because we are appreciative of their work or because they embody values that we cherish. Then there are the others ... Those for which we feel a great connivance of printing has taken place specific meeting. Christopher McCandless was and will of these beings whose indelible not flush against the ground. Because he chose to live differently and because his company seemed utopian in the era of planned obsolescence and the race to modernity, his mark will remain forever present.Beyond the epic of a young man enamored of independence and love of life, we discover an amazing personality, a Human being who has profoundly influenced those who crossed his path. One can not, therefore, that remain overwhelmed by the vast design of this marginal endearing.Into the wild is an ode to nature in all its most untamed and more alive. This is a lesson given by a traveler, who, if not escape through dreamed landscapes, continue to live long drives in his footsteps during a few pages.

  • sylas
    2019-04-28 21:25

    After watching the film of the same name, I was interested to learn more about the life of the kid described. His was a captivating story and I was hungry for further details of Alex Supertramp's life. However, this book mostly served as a reminder of why I don't like to read books written by journalists. Jon Krakauer is a fine writer, but like many other journalists is prone to irritating exaggeration and spent quite a bit of time romanticizing the parallels between Supertramp's life and his own. In fact, the entire book was a romanticization of the ultimately fatal journey of Supertramp. It's not that I take issue with the telling of Alex's tale (I found his two-year journey to be interesting and somewhat surprising), it's that Krakauer seemed bent on clearing Supertramp's name. Krakauer tells us that after publishing the preliminary story of Supertramp's death in Outside magazine, he received a large response from readers less than impressed with Alex's mission. Krakauer seemed to look at Into the Wild as an opportunity to convince readers that Alex wasn't just some stupid kid ignorantly seeking adventure in dangerous places; that somehow because of Supertramp's well-educated and privileged background he was in some way intellectually and morally superior to the many other individuals who have embarked on similar journeys. Karakauer wants us to understand that he believes Alex embarked on what amounts to "a rite of passage in our culture" (pg. 190) and that it wasn't his mistakes that caused his untimely death, but rather circumstances out of his control. We are meant to feel sympathy for the poor privileged white kid who was merely fulfilling his role as twenty-something, upper class white male.Krakauer identified strongly with Alex Supertramp (as noted in chapters 14 and 15 which are devoted entirely to stories paralelling Krakauer's experiences with Alex's) and, in my opinion, took away quite a bit from Alex's story by entwining it with his own. Though I found the story of Alex and other's fatal journeys into "the wild" to be somewhat interesting from a sociological perspective, ultimately this book did very little for me. Hence the two stars.

  • Mark
    2019-05-18 23:31

    Being a man who has always lived very close to the sea I have always admired and loved it but I am also very conscious that i have a very healthy sense of its danger and power and uncontrollable force. This book is the extraordinary account of one who loved Nature but who did not appear to have gained that equally important respect. A young man, wanders into the wilds of Alaska so as to commune with nature and 'discover' himself, a few months later his desperately emaciated corpse is found rotting in an old bus which served as a hut for hunters and travellers through the widerness. The narrative is written, very sympathetically, by a journalist/adventurer who tries to come to a genuine understanding of what Chris McCandless, the lad in question, was trying to achieve. McCandless, though already dead from the beginning of the narrative, is a fascinatingly alive character. As I read his story I was attracted and infuriated in fairly equal measure. He is self-absorbed and opinionated to an astonishing degree; one example being how he lectures a man in his late eighties to go off and get rid of his possessions and explore in the time left to him. The truly extraordinary thing is, the bloke goes ahead and does it. McCandless was certainly supremely confident and rather arrogant in his own self-posession but there quite evidently was something startingly powerful about the lad. It is particularly noticeable how all but one of the people interviewed for the book who had actually met Chris spoke incredibly movingly about his gentlessness, his goodness, his attractiveness; the fact that they truly loved him and they felt the world had lost a great soul. This was from people who sometimes had had quite short experiences and yet had been wowed by his personality. Those who only knew of him through his death dismiss him as one ill-prepared and ridiculously naive or arrogant and self-aggrandizing. This speaks volumes about the simple wisdom of not making judgements until you actually encounter the person about whom you are holding forth. Having said all that however, and in danger of totally undermining my last point, I would say that McCandless appeared to rampantly over-estimate his abilities whilst underestimating nature's power. He took with him no map or compass and therefore was unaware that had he walked just five or six miles from the place where his dead body was eventually found he may well have found a place to cross the swollen river which appeared to imprison him in the wilderness and indeed slightly further on again, by the help of a simple map, he would have found greater opportunities to be rescued.It is an incredibly enthralling account of one man's attempt to live at one with Nature. McCandless is not one who sought to disregard or dismiss Nature but indeed hoped to embrace and luxuriate in it. The tragedy is that in wanting to strip himself of all 20th Century accoutrements he perhaps muisunderstood that the very accoutrements he cast aside were the substitutes for a knowledge and expertise that 20th Century men have lost sight of. His limited and rather amateurish preparations, though they might appear irresponsible and stupid, seem more to have been the result of an over-reliance on the romanticism of Jack London's journey and love affair with the Wild. You know the Jack London who, as Krakauer points out, died obese and drunk in his home far from that wilderness that he himself had only visited once.This is powerful, moving, well written but ultimately frustrating because it would never be able, owing to the death of McCandless and his privacy before this, to truly understand or fathom his mindset. The real tragedy is that i couldn't help but think, encountering as we do the profound effect he had for the good on the vast majority of people with whom he came into contact, what might he have achieved in his own life and in those around him had he got back from what could have been life changing but ultimately was this life destroying adventure.

  • Erin
    2019-05-23 01:27

    In April 1992 a young man from a well to do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. A really gripping "travel essay" Jon Krakauer tries to move his reading audience beyond pre-conceived notions. What would convince a young man to give up all his worldly possessions and head back into nature? Upon closing the pages, I felt a little bit of sadness that Chris McCandless left the earth way too soon. But in his short life, Chris managed to touch a lot of people along the way and it is their memories of this man that were the best parts.

  • Dolors
    2019-04-30 03:38

    Biographical novel about Chris McCandless, a smart 23 year old boy who starts an idealistic journey throughout the forests and deserts of the States and Mexico trying to live accordingly to his Tolstoian beliefs, which denounce all kind of material possessions. The adventure ends up in tragedy when his body is found in Alaska two years after his departure. This story aroused a mediatic debate in the nineties in which some people defended McCandless innocent and pure search for spiritual peace whereas others considered him a stupid, reckless and overconfident well-to-do kid from a rich family who wanted nothing else but to draw attention.The novel flows easy and fast, and I can't think of a better narrator than Krakauer, he exposes the facts in an objective way and leaves the reader to form his own opinion about McCandless: a spoiled, immature kid whose life could have been spared or a free mind who found his own way in a frantic world and who managed to leave track.As a romantic I prefer the second option, but I also agree with Krakauer that youth combined with passionate ideals and some deep hidden frustration can lead to oblivion of danger, we humans do easily forget that we are not invincible. After having read this novel, I believe that living to the limit and suicide are not the same concept, and I also think that McCandless thougth the same. He didn't want to die, but died happily all the same, which is an attitude we might all learn something about."Happiness only real when shared""He is smiling in the picture, and there is no mistaking the look in his eyes: Chris McCandless was at peace, serene as a monk gone to God"

  • Jason
    2019-05-22 23:19

    Chris McCandless had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!! This is not a spoiler; it's my interpretation of the evidence provided by the author. McCandless had OCD. Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild is objectively written (more on the written word later), and goes to great length—medically, pharmacologically, and, especially, psychologically—to explain what happened to this 24 year old when he traipsed into the Alaskan bush under-equipped with 20 pounds of gear, mostly dry rice and books.I'm not a subject matter expert, so you can drill holes through my untrained theory. However, I've lived 40 years with a close relative that has OCD. The suffering has been overwhelming for this individual and our family. I believe this gives me enough credibility to lean into the psychology, and participate in the discussion on what drove Chris McCandless repeatedly—like a ritual—into the wild.We're familiar with the most common manifestations of OCD—washing, collecting, counting—all ritualistic behavior performed invariably by highly-functioning, competent, otherwise rational people, always against their will and better judgment, capable of being controlled, yet incapable of being stopped. Though we recognize common forms, there's myriad other shades of OCD that have been documented in professional literature. Indeed, as each individual is a unique analysand, it's reasonable to say that there's a unique OCD for every person that has OCD; or, rather, that each individual performs his OCD in a unique combination of ways. They merely manifest in common vectors. My relative has a diagnosed OCD that doesn't fit into a category, and I believe Chris McCandless probably had an undiagnosed OCD that descended upon him repeatedly, uncontrollably and made a rational person do irrational things.Krakauer's investigative prowess is superior. The author, in fact, claims he was obsessed with this story because he, too, shared a similar 'obsession' to retreat to the woods. So, Krakauer has done his homework. He arrives at what possibly could be the real physiological reason why McCandless died, and I agree. Krakauer also provides a detailed personal profile kluged together after doggedly uncovering people who interacted with McCandless in the period before he crossed the Rubicon. However, although the author tinkers with the psychological reasons why McCandless may have behaved the way he did, he ultimately leaves the final analysis undecided. Into the Wild was written for you, the reader, to supply that analysis.McCandless was not a social misfit, a 'green' anarchist, a criminal, a Virgina Tech “shooter.” He was completely normal, with what appeared to be a common level of vexation against his parents and angst with society. However, his acute withdrawal into the woods without a rational mix of gear and ration occurred with enough regularity that it seemed to be ritualistic with him. Indeed, the author describes these repeated withdrawals as a kind of vision quest, a catharsis, a cleansing. But what psychology explains a recurring, irrational, overpowering urge performed by an otherwise normal person? An obsessive compulsive disorder.I'd like to launch into a lengthy comparison of Scott McCandless and my relative, but—in jeopardy to my thesis—that will remain with me. Just read the book, and keep OCD in mind, and see if you feel the same way.New words: cordillera, contumacious, lumpen, eremitic, desideratum, serac, coppice.I award 4 stars for a well-paced, well-presented, investigative journey with a language that was engaging and highly readable. It could have earned the 5th star, but there were absolutely no maps, sketches, pictures, or images of a story that certainly warranted them.

  • Matthew
    2019-05-09 02:34

    Not marking my spoilers as I believe most people know the basic story. If you don't, proceed with caution!I liked this book okay - it is probably my least favorite Krakauer book, but I think that was because my feelings about it were tainted by the main character. McCandless was soooooo frustrating. He went about the free spirit/return to the wild thing all wrong. He refused help and destroyed his resources with the belief that that was what was required to survive on your own. No! Be prepared! Learn basic skills! Accept free help! All of those things would have still allowed him to be a vagabond and he might still be alive today.Also frustrating is the fact that I hear some people idolizing McCandless. They want to be like him, they think he approached getting away from it all in a wise fashion, they martyr him (maybe not realizing that it was his own ineptitude that caused his death??).Please read this as a cautionary tale, not as a guidebook for escaping life and responsibilities. If you do, I am sorry to say, you may meet the same fate.

  • Forrest Marchinton
    2019-05-07 19:16

    n April 1992, a young 20-something walked into the Alaskan bush to live off the land and experience Reality. His emaciated body was found four months later. Some of you may have heard about the incident; it was reported in an article in Outside magazine, and carried by some news services. Some lauded him as a new Thoreau, living life to the fullest and taking the consequences; others say he was a stupid, hopeless romantic, an example of what happens when suburbanites try to do The Nature Thing.Who was Chris McCandless? He was naïve. He was Immortal. Like many of that age, he thought that if he wanted something passionately enough, he was entitled to it. Many of us secretly envy his kind, the drifters who revel in "owning no more possessions than you can carry on your back at a full run," for whom each day is an adventure, an indelible experience. To paraphrase Monty Python, those who live free in the wilderness subsequently die free in the wilderness.The author suggests that one of his flaws was that he refused to learn from others. He was native talent embodied, making him very good at anything he tried. But he wouldn't listen to the advice of experts, to realize his potential for excellence. Also, one friend commented that although he was a tireless worker even on the nastiest jobs, he didn't have much common sense.He was independent, that's true enough. He as much as said he wanted to see if he could make it on his own. But it was also clear to me that he needed people for survival. While he survived some dangerous (if stupid) situations on his own, he needed people to pull his fat out of the fire on occasion. For example, in the beginning of his long journey, he ignorantly got his truck disabled in a flash flood; some motorists found him on the verge of heat stroke from traveling through the desert all day. When he was hopelessly lost in a Mexican swamp, Chris stumbled upon some duck hunters who towed his canoe to safety. In the last and terminal episode of his short life, his saviors showed up three weeks too late.Maybe I'm being too hard on the guy. After all, he managed to last longer than most of us would. But his sin was naiveté, and Nature doesn't give a tinker's damn about our reasons for screwing up.What killed him? A combination of things. Number one, he purposefully went into the bush without a quad map (lacking a "blank spot on the map" to go to, speculates Krakauer, he ditched the map so that "In his mind, if nowhere else, the terra would thereby remain incognita"). When he had found what he had been looking for and began to hike his way out, he found his way blocked by a river flooded by glacier meltwater. With no map, he couldn't know that a 30 minute hike would have brought him to an abandoned hydrology station with a functional cable crossing. And so he was forced to wait out the summer.The second error, more forgivable but fatal, was that he poisoned himself. Despite all his hunting and gathering, July found him scrawny and gaunt. Trying to improve his diet, he at the seeds of the wild potato, which at the time contained an toxin which blocks nutrient intake. I say forgivable because his plant books made no mention of this, although a botanist would have guessed this property of the potato family. If he was in good health, his body would have flushed the inhibitors from his system in time, but as it was he had no sugar or protein to spare.Jon Krakauer, an outdoor writer, is fixated on McCandless. He draws on Chris' writings and photos along with interviews with family and people Chris met on his trek. In the book he relates the ends of others who braved Alaska for whatever reason, from arrogance to ignorance to insanity. He uses his own personal experiences, including his relationship with his father and a foolhardy, nearly fatal climb on a peak in (again) Alaska to bring some insight to Chris' mindset.So is there a moral to this story? That Mother Nature doesn't suffer fools gladly? "Be Prepared?" As with most things, I suspect that the meaning found in this story will be personalized, unique for each one who reads it.

  • Michelle Curie
    2019-05-06 19:29

    "If this adventure proves fatal and you don't ever hear from me again I want you to know you're a great man I now walk into the wild."Not often does a story make me put everything down for several minutes and deal with that lump in my throat. Not often does a story make me do that every time I cross paths with it. This one did. And yet I come back to it. Again and again. It must have been five or six years since I first heard of Christopher Johnson McCandless. His story is easily told: In April 1992, the young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mr. McKinley after burning, donating and leaving behind most of his possessions. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. So what has happened?That's exactly the question Jon Krakauer is answering in this biography, a follow-up to his article published in Outside magazine in 1993, which polarised the readership. While many claimed him a hero and a brave risk-taker, others would call him selfish, reckless and foolish. For me, his story came at a time where I started to ask many questions myself and because I was able to resonate so strongly with him and his story, it remains one I hold very, very dear.Jon Krakauer does an astonishingly brilliant job at giving insight into what kind of person Chris McCandless was through various interviews, journal entries, researches and letters; also drawing comparison to other adventurers who found themselves in similar situations. Krakauer's empathy for his subject made this biography a pleasure to read, it felt like he really turned every coin twice before jumping to any conclusions. "He was an extremely intense young man and possessed a streak of stubborn idealism that did not mesh readily with modern existence."Even those who fail to relate to Chris McCandless or his way of thinking can't deny his intelligence. His way of looking at the world is one of the things that makes his story so compelling - he's not an pubertal teenager who set off because it might make him seem cool or rebellious. Chris was willing to take risks in order to do what he honestly and truly believed in. He was smart, passionate about nature, critical about money and possession, constantly questioning his surroundings and circumstances. He was very to himself, a private person, who could be alone without being lonely, yet he was never an outsider in that way - "he always had friends, and everybody liked him." Even on his journey into the wild he has touched and affect almost every people he encountered. After leaving the 80-year old Ronald, he wrote him a letter, in which he gave him advice and said the following:"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future."Into the Wild is a book you might love, it is a book you might hate, but it is impossible to get to know a person like Christopher McCandless through Jon Krakauer's words and stay unaffected.

  • Natalie Vellacott
    2019-04-27 19:35

    This book reminded me why I usually stick to Christian literature. What a depressing and tragic tale.Chris McCandless aka Alex Supertramp, gave away his savings, left his family and friends and headed off into the wilderness. He lived nomadically for a couple of years encountering various people along the way. His ultimate goal was to head into the wilds of Alaska and live off the land. This he did, but a few mistakes ended up costing him everything. His emaciated body was found by hikers in an abandoned bus some time later. The author has done an amazing job of following McCandless's elusive trail and collating all of the accounts and memories into a biography. He jumps around a bit--I would have preferred a chronological account. Likewise, he repeats some detail in places. The inclusion of details of others who have similarly disappeared was a good call. It made the narrative a lot more interesting. Also, the account of the author's own expedition into the mountains and near death experiences.However, as a Christian, I cannot help but wonder what benefit there is from this account and what lessons can be learned from the life of Chris McCandless and others. This appears to be a tale without hope because the author and no doubt many readers are assuming that there is no life after death. They assume that those who die apart from God will simple cease to exist or will automatically go to heaven. The only hope for Chris McCandless is that as he had been born and raised in America, he would likely have heard the saving news of Jesus in his lifetime. Whether or not he turned to God in his hour of need we do not know, if he did, he makes no reference to it in his final writings. What can be more devastating than a life lived without hope and with no assurance of eternal life in heaven?This tale gets worse in that as a result of McCandless's pointless death, at least three people renounced their faith in God. They turned away from the only source of true hope believing that a God of love would not have allowed this terrible thing to happen to someone they cared about. But, how real is our faith if we only worship God in the good times? Convincing ourselves that God isn't there and walking away from Him doesn't change the reality that we will one day stand before Him to give an account of our lives. One can only hope that these people were speaking out of their understandable grief and will be reconciled to God in due course.These wanderings into the wilderness seeking spiritual experiences or a better understanding of self, seem to always end in a person either becoming more introverted and selfish or as in the case of McCandless dying a painful and senseless death at a young age. I can only imagine how those years were for his family. We are created to live in community and to serve and help each other, not to isolate ourselves and fixate on our problems.The author observes that McCandless was searching for something but that he didn't know what it was. We are all searching for a purpose and meaning which can only be found in a relationship with God, our Creator. Sadly, neither McCandless or the author seem to have realised that. I guess the author is still searching. His comments about the workings of the mind in the many characters he describes are interesting but don't explain the reasons people really head off on these diversions.Despite my observations, this was a good read. It is well researched and apart from the very strong language which was fairly frequent, it is well written with a lot of creative detail. Those who enjoy climbing/adventure books may want to read it and will probably better understand a lot of the technical terms employed by the author. There is no sexual content or violence. There are graphic descriptions of death.This book will go someway to convincing people of the hopelessness and meaninglessness of life without God. It screams from the pages. Tragically, it is now too late for Chris McCandless, one can only pray that others sense their precarious position and are convicted and rescued as a result of his story.

  • Carol
    2019-05-12 19:41

    The true story of what is known about the life, death and journey of the young college graduate Chris McCandless as he leaves the security of his family and hitchhikes across the country and into the Alaskan wilderness to find (in my opinion) himself and the true meaning of life and happiness. Unfortunately, he is unprepared for life in the wild and is believed to have died of starvation in August, 1992 only four months into his Alaskan adventure.A good portion of the book tells of Jon Krakauer's own experiences as well as other explorer's of the past rationalizing why McCandless took this path in life.A good mystery to discuss at book clubs.

  • BrokenTune
    2019-05-02 19:36

    "It is hardly unusual for a young man to be drawn to a pursuit considered reckless by his elders; engaging in risky behavior is a rite of passage in our culture no less than in most others. Danger has always held a certain allure. That, in large part, is why so many teenagers drive too fast and drink too much and take too many drugs, why it has always been so easy for nations to recruit young men to go to war. It can be argued that youthful derring-do is in fact evolutionarily adaptive, a behavior encoded in our genes. McCandless, in his fashion, merely took risk-taking to its logical extreme."Inspired and motivated by Lillelara's review, I found Into the Wild on my library's OverDrive as an audiobook - I had heard that the book The Golden Spruce, which I recently read, was often compared to Into the Wild and really wanted to find out what led to the comparison.Having read the book, I can't say I see many similarities at all. The Golden Spruce is about an ex-logger turned environmental activist in British Columbia who commits an act of eco terrorism. Into the Wild is the story of Chris J. McCandless who who at 24 decides to step out of society and live alone in the wilderness of Alaska. Both men suffer the consequences of their decisions but this is where the similarities end. Certainly, there were no similarities in their background or motivations.Before I go off on a rant about Into the Wild, I would like to make clear that my issues with the book are with the writing and the author. The story of Chris McCandless is certainly worth telling and worth thinking about - after all it is quite extraordinary that anyone would choose to go out into the wild and be completely cut off from all human contact. While I'm not sympathetic to McCandless or feel any particular like or dislike towards him for abandoning his family and friends, I respect his attempt (for whatever reason) to live in a way that seemed right to him. Whether he did it out of youthful hubris, out of a peculiar mental disposition, or because he was suffering from some romantic illusion instilled by his love of Thoreau and Tolstoy. At the end of the day, he knew the risks of living in the wild. My rating of this book is not a reflection of my respect for McCandless' story. The issues I have with the book are with the overindulgent writing and an author who tries to give meaning to McCandless' actions but will over and over try to push his own interpretation of events.Sure, Krakauer makes a great effort in interviewing a lot of people who may have known McCandless, but instead of presenting the opinions of the people who knew that young man first hand, Krakauer interprets the interviews himself. It may be that he tries to fill pages or it may be that he felt he could add some needed context, but the first time his style of revealing the story really grated on me was when he presented an interview with McCandless' father and then proceeded to dismiss McCandless Snr.'s notions in favour of Krakauer's own ideas of why Chris had chosen to seek seclusion.Given the choice between a parent's take on the story and Krakauer's - what would make you think Krakauer was in a better position to judge?This was not the only time that I got to doubt the sincerity of the author. In fact, there were numerous moments throughout the book when I wanted to ring the BS bell. At one point, Krakauer dismisses several psychological theories that sought to explain McCandless' behaviour. I admit that the theories he mentions sounded far-fetched and seemed to be based on long-disproved Freudian models, but for Krakauer to follow this up with a theory of his own was just extraordinarily arrogant. The aspect of Krakauer's theory that I found particularly vexing was that he tried to sell it on the premise that he, Krakauer, had a deeper understanding of McCandless' frame of mind because he was a mountaineer who could relate to the excitement of facing physical challenges and the mental struggle of keeping it together under harsh conditions. Blah, blah, blah.What Krakauer does achieve is to conveniently slip in some stories of his own exploits - which have nothing to do with McCandless' story. If ever there was an inappropriate time for self-promotion, this was it.There was also a point where Krakauer implied that the author of a book on ethnobotany found in McCandless' possession was to blame for his death because she failed to point out in the book that certain seeds were poisonous.And if this example was not enough, he managed to top this by constantly comparing McCandless' story to that of other adventurers who met with rather sticky ends. Most of these stories were, again, rather unrelated to McCandless. I'm still puzzled why Krakauer thought it would be appropriate to compare McCandless' story to that of the Franklin expedition and go off on a tangent about how Franklin condemned his men to death because of his (Franklin's) stupidity and lack of respect of nature - which is also much unsubstantiated conjecture on Krakauer's part. But who will argue with a self-appointed expert who does not need to cite sources? In the end, I got the feeling that Krakauer had an agenda in writing this book that tried to make more of McCandless' story than there really was. In my mind, McCandless was young guy who made a choice and - tragically and fatally for him - it didn't work out. However, there was no conspiracy. There was no one to blame. There also was no dramatic heroism other than that of a guy trying to live as he saw fit. Other than that, we will never know, but this also seemed to have been part of McCandless' plan."In 1992, however, there were no more blank spots on the map - not in Alaska, not anywhere. But Chris, with his idiosyncratic logic, came up with an elegant solution to this dilemma: He simply got rid of the map. In his own mind, if nowhere else, the terra would thereby remain incognita." .Edit - 28.10.15: I corrected some typos.

  • Tressa
    2019-05-23 02:23

    S.O.S. I NEED YOUR HELP. I AM INJURED, NEAR DEATH, AND TOO WEAK TO HIKE OUT OF HERE. I AM ALL ALONE. THIS IS NO JOKE. IN THE NAME OF GOD, PLEASE REMAIN TO SAVE ME. I AM OUT COLLECTING BERRIES CLOSE BY AND SHALL RETURN THIS EVENING. THANK YOU. - a note taped to the door of the busIn 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..."I don’t know what I was doing in 1996 to make me miss this book the first time around, but I must've been just cruising along, living my motto of "So many books, so little time." I picked up Into the Wild when I recently revisited Jon Krakauer, and I knew vaguely about the movie version directed by Sean Penn that came out last year. I couldn’t put this book down until I knew how Chris McCandless died, and I’ve been haunted by his story ever since. No young man should have to die for his idealism, however naïve we feel he’s being.After graduating from Emory University in 1990, Christopher McCandless left home to “disappear for awhile,” and his family had no idea of his whereabouts until they were notified of his death two years later. He shook off his upper-class trappings and roamed through several states, first in his trusty yellow Datsun and then by thumb. His final destination was the Stampede Trail in Alaska, and his goal was to spend the summer in the bush, living off the land. He survived for 112 days.When Krakauer published the story in Outside magazine in 1993, readers bombarded him with mail. McCandless was either hailed for his adventurous spirit and deified for his noble ideals, or he was branded a starry-eyed fool too stupid to survive in "the wild"--30 miles east from a major highway and 16 miles south from the main road into Denali Park.Krakauer, an adventurer himself and a former self-absorbed, reckless youth, veers off for two chapters to explain why the young seek such extreme sports. A year after Krakauer graduated from college, he travelled alone to the Stikine Icecap region near Petersburg, Alaska, to climb the Devils Thumb. He looks back on his three weeks in Petersburg and acknowledges his hubris and an appalling innocence, not thinking about the affect his possible death might have on his family and friends. But he just couldn't resist "stealing up to the edge of doom and peering over the brink."He comes down clearly on McCandless' side because he so readily understands this: "It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it." He understands it because he lived it. “In coming to Alaska, McCandless yearned to wander uncharted country, to find a blank spot on the map. In 1992, however, there were no more blank spots on the map--not in Alaska, not anywhere. But Chris, with his idiosyncratic logic, came up with an elegant solution to this dilemma: He simply got rid of the map. In his own mind, if nowhere else, the terra would thereby remain incognita."McCandless’charm, intelligence, and enthusiasm endeared him to the outer fringes of society. The people he met on his journey--the commune dwellers, the employers, the drivers who gave him a lift and a place to stay for the short term--were all grateful for the time he allowed them to spend with him. They gave him money, their lunch, hunting gear, and advice. They begged him to call home, to stay and work, to come and live with them. But this just wasn’t part of his plan.