by Jon Krakauer
I was fascinated to discover at the end of the film Into the Wild that it is based on a true story, so when my sister loaned me the book to read while visiting, I gobbled it up. In a journalistic, not narrative style, Into the Wild looks at the life of Christopher McCandless, a young man from an affluent family who spent years after college graduation hitchhiking around the country, tramping through remote areas and planning for an Alaskan adventure. Krakauer not only examines what forces in McCandless' life and personality prompted him to seek out solitary wilderness adventures, but describes a period in his own life where he did the same thing, and compares McCandless to other young men who also adventured and died in the wilderness before him. A combination of youthful idealism and desire to live off the land on his own ability lead McCandless off "into the wild" from which he attempted, but could not return due to several mistakes and errors in judgement. Full of quotes from books McCandless drew inspiration from, and interviews with people he met during his travels (and left strong impressions upon) this is a fascinating look at one young man's yearning for pure wilderness experience. Whether you think of him as a foolhardy kid who took unreasonable risks or an admirable bold adventurer, there is something to be learned from reading his story. (Don't go off in the woods alone without a map, for starters). I enjoyed it very much, in spite of the unfavorable reviews it has received elsewhere.
Rating: 4/5 ........ 207 pages, 1996
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