Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild is the true story of Christopher McCandless as told by author Jon Krakauer. In 1992 subsequent to graduating with honors from an Atlanta University, McCandless discarded his possessions, gave his complete $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he then went off on his own to live in the wilderness. Four months later his body was discovered. His diary and letters, found at an isolated campsite tell of his desperate efforts to survive.

I was disappointed with this book and after reading other reviews was expecting much more. This is actually the second book that I have read by Krakauer and I must admit I wasn't a fan of his previous work either (Why did I give him another try? Because I am a fair and just ruler.). Maybe it is the author's bragging of his life experience and his experience as a writer for Outdoor magazine that has elevated my expectations but this book was a definite let down. I was expecting to read the story of Chris McCandless, but instead felt as if I were reading a disjointed assemblage of magazine and newspaper articles. I often felt the author to be self serving and his tone even a bit uncaring as it seems like he spent much of the book putting more feeling into the retelling of his own explorations and adventures than into those of McCandless.

That having been said I too am about to sound a bit uncaring... Chris McCandless was an arrogant idiot. He committed some of the most basic errors of survival in the wild and people are holding him up as though he was some sort of modern hero, in truth he was a misguided fool. Reading a few Jack London novels and then believing yourself an expert in wilderness survival is almost as intelligent as the idea of me reading a few Louis L'Amour novels and then taking up ranching. It was very frustrating the way Krakauer attempted to validate McCandless' actions through the telling of his own imprudent adventures, but even more disturbing was the way Krakauer seemed to actually be encouraging others to go "into the wild" unprepared.

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