Into the Wild

Into the Wild

Book - 1997
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Krakauer's page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning." -- New York Times

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. 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. How Christopher Johnson McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild .

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and, unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Jon Krakauer constructs a clarifying prism through which he reassembles the disquieting facts of McCandless's short life. Admitting an interst that borders on obsession, he searches for the clues to the drives and desires that propelled McCandless.

When McCandless's innocent mistakes turn out to be irreversible and fatal, he becomes the stuff of tabloid headlines and is dismissed for his naiveté, pretensions, and hubris. He is said to have had a death wish but wanting to die is a very different thing from being compelled to look over the edge. Krakauer brings McCandless's uncompromising pilgrimage out of the shadows, and the peril, adversity, and renunciation sought by this enigmatic young man are illuminated with a rare understanding--and not an ounce of sentimentality. Mesmerizing, heartbreaking, Into the Wild is a tour de force. The power and luminosity of Jon Krakauer's stoytelling blaze through every page.
Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 1997.
Edition: 1st Anchor books trade pbk. ed.
ISBN: 9780385486804
Characteristics: 207 pages : maps ; 21 cm.


From the critics

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Jul 30, 2020

It would have been a great short story. Making it into a book was a stretch.

Apr 02, 2020

My interest in this book peaked after I read a news article. The news article reported about a newlywed woman who had died trying to cross the Teklanika, she and her husband were trying to reach the abandoned bus on the other side of the river. I was wondering why these people would even attempt to see a this old bus, so I decided to read this book. I'm glad I decided to read it. It it well formatted and I would recommend to anyone who is curious, because it is an interesting tale.

ArapahoePatrick Jan 22, 2020

Christopher Mccandless's story is well known and widely mocked. After reading this account of his unfortunate journey I find him a much more empathetic person and sincerely relate to him in many ways. Who can't relate to the desire to be alone for a while?


While I was initially skeptical of how interesting I would find Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book, Into the Wild, I have to admit that I really enjoyed it. His book follows the true story of a young man, Christopher McCandless who ventured into the wild. It is easy to criticize that McCandless’s lack of preparation for his adventure, the author portrays him in a way that is likable and easy to identify with. I really appreciated that Krakauer brought in additional examples to the story to compare and contrast to McCandless’s adventure. I think it added a lot of insight into the story and his reasoning behind his journey. Emily, grade 12, of the Yorba Linda Teen Book Bloggers

Aug 05, 2019

I thought perhaps since I enjoyed Krakauer's other work, Into Thin Air, that I would also enjoy this. There are elements of this that were enjoyable, namely Krakauer's descriptive and immersive prose- his ability to dive deep into a situation or a life and explore it thoroughly without becoming repetitive. The other blessing here is that the book was short- just about 200 pages. This was key in my finishing the novel, as I don't think I could have read any more about the arrogant, self-absorbed, ignorant Chris McCandless. He acted as though he was too good for the world, and didn't appreciate the good life that his parents had struggled to provide him; their mistakes and misgivings aside. Who traipses into the Alaskan wilderness without a map and a compass? If he'd had a map, he would have survived. McCandless is woefully unprepared for his sojourn, and though he insists that he wants to make his journey solo, he relies quite a bit on strangers for the two years he is on the road. He just expects people to help him. The more I read about him, the more it made me angry.
It is unclear whether the author feels the same as the general public or not- since he peppers the novel with his own solo experiences. Is he in solidarity with McCandless? Thumbing his nose at him because he survived and McCandless didn't? Or is he pointing out that someone who is much more prepared and skilled could have made the journey and come out the other side? It's hard to say. I won't be recommending this one, simply based on the infuriating nature of the protagonist of the story.

Jun 17, 2019

This book was a huge disappointment for me. Whatever this boneheaded, narcissistic youth was trying to prove is beyond me or any of his family or friends. He basically committed suicide. The author tried his best to make sense of it all but the end result read like a 20/20 special on TV...trying to make sense of a senseless act. The subject matter is so limited and speculative that reading the original 1992 article in the magazine would save one a lot of reading time. Some may like this book but I sure did not!

Mar 15, 2019

This book is an amazing piece of literature. Krakauer has a way of spinning McCandless’ story so it has no plot holes nor loose ends. Along with telling the story of Chris, Krakauer includes the bittersweet tales of other hikers who wanted to live on their own as well, and ultimately lost their lives because of it. Because “Into the Wild” does not just focus on one story, it would be easy to see how the story might jump around a lot. But, Krakauer knows just how to transition into each new page with no gaps. There was never a moment when I did not know what was going on in the story. The book has a little bit of almost every genre from adventure to romance, leaving no room for dislike. Overall, “Into the Wild” is an amazing book that should be read by everyone, as it will intrigue everyone who reads it.

Mar 05, 2019

One of the worst books I've ever read in my life. The author writes like a blogger that used a thesaurus to beef up the text. The story of Chris McCandless is infuriating. He threw away his life without giving a second thought to his family, and proceeded to freeze to death, thanks to his own stupidity. No matter how awful the story of McCandless was, it is made even worse by the author forcing in stories of his own adventures, that barely relate to the story at all. Overall a dry, boring, and taxing read.

Feb 21, 2019

My brother told me that this book would be a good read. I took his word for it and highly regretted it. At first this book was quite interesting but the more I read the less interested it became. Near the end of the book I was struggling to pick it up.
Overall this book is about a person who just graduated college and ditched everything to go travel the united states. This part of the book was interesting until he reached Alaska. This is when the book started drag and it became a very dull book to read. If you are interested in the rough alaskan terrain this book is for you.

Dec 11, 2018

As an eleventh grade english teacher, this book was a required reading for my students. In all honesty, it was so ridiculous. My kids didn't care for it, and I could barely see how they were stretching it to fit their theme for the year of the American Dream. Honestly, I wouldn't recommend this unless you are a huge fan of Alaskan Bush People, or anything along those lines. If that's the case, you'll love this.

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Add a Quote
Aug 13, 2014

“Long captivated by the writing of Leo Tolstoy, McCandless particularly admired how the great novelist had forsaken a life of wealth and privilege to wander among the destitute.”

Jun 03, 2013

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. Alex.

AmandaVollmershausen Mar 27, 2013

"Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man that a secure future"


Add a Summary
Aug 13, 2014

Based on a true story. After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters who shape his life.


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