April 10th, 2012


Book Review: Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

The Alaskan outback is not the place to work out your daddy issues.

Into the Wild

Random House, 1996, 224 pages

What would possess a gifted young man recently graduated from college to literally walk away from his life? Noted outdoor writer and mountaineer Jon Krakauer tackles that question in his reporting on Chris McCandless, whose emaciated body was found in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992.

Described by friends and relatives as smart, literate, compassionate, and funny, did McCandless simply read too much Thoreau and Jack London and lose sight of the dangers of heading into the wilderness alone? Krakauer, whose own adventures have taken him to the perilous heights of Everest, provides some answers by exploring the pull the outdoors, seductive yet often dangerous, has had on his own life.

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Verdict: Into the Wild is an interesting story, and I've enjoyed previous books by Jon Krakauer. Krakauer tries to paint Chris "Alexander Supertramp" McCandless in a sympathetic light without glamorizing his untimely but hardly unpredictable demise, but you can't help shaking your head at this poor dumb kid. Every young man goes through a period where he thinks he's a superhero and does some stupid shit. Some of them die. Chris McCandless found a slightly more adventurous way to do it.

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