Audio Book Review: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Release Date: August 2, 2007
Publisher: Random House Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 7 hours 9 minutes
Narrator: Phillip Franklin
Genre: Travel Biography
Buy: Audible | Kindle 


In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.  How 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 dries and desires that propelled McCandless.  Digging deeply, he takes an inherently compelling mystery and unravels 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.

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. 


Fascinating read about Chris McCandless who decided to leave his wealthy family behind and live on the road or off the land. In the time that he was on the road he met several people and forged interesting relationships.  It was remarkable that despite only have known McCandless for a short time he made a large impact on so many people.

In his fateful journey into the Alaskan wilderness his life has become legend that people either think is crazy and he was just unprepared or that he was an inspiration leaving behind wealth and privilege to live a "simple" life of self discovery. Regardless of your take his journey is miraculous even to the end. Krakauer definitely can relate to this young man and understood his drive and motivations as only someone who is drawn to risk and adventure can.

This is a well written book that gives some insight into a young dreamer who lived life on his terms.

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