Into The Wild completed

In this article I review Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I hope I give you enough information and tickle your own curiosity to convince you to read this book. It tells an incredible, fun and unfortunately tragic story. A must read.

Into the Wild was touching, sad, inspiring and mostly thrilling throughout. At the end in a couple parts I must admit that my eyes swelled up. Krakauer does a great job of explaining what Chris must have been thinking. I enjoyed th narrative of the book and how Jon mixed in his own memoirs into the story. I can't help but feel compassion and comradeship towards Chris McCandless. He did what we all talk about around the water cooler, but very few of us ever do or even try; live your dream. Unfortunately for him his adventure as you find out in the book, was not successful. At least not by most standards. Please don't think I'm spoiling the story, his tragic ending is revealed before the book even starts in the Author's note in the First Anchor Books Edition, Feb 1997:

In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East Coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters.

As I read the book I kept thinking to myself "I know what he must be thinking now" or "I bet I know what he felt right then" and the truth is that Jon's writing makes you believe this; he makes you think you can understand what was going through Chris' head. In all reality, few of us will probably fully understand the thoughts and emotions driving Chris as he sets off in a canoe down the Colorado river, or when he embarks on his last trip into the wild.

The book is easy to read and I found myself immersed in it right away, I was almost a third of the way into it when I put it down for the first time and I completed it in a couple more sittings. Some of the chapters begin with a simple map of the area which you are about to travel through. Constantly I found myself flipping back to review the maps to see where McCandless was and this gave me a great idea of the relative distances he traveled. Sometimes he made his way through on foot, other times hitchhiking but I absolutely think that if he had the choice, he would have used his little Datsun all the way to Alaska.

Half dozen pages over 200, the book is definitely easily digested in a weekend and I definitely recommend it. Most of the books I like give me a new piece of the puzzle to the great experience of life; this was certainly not an exception. I'll spare you the details of the emotions stirred and the dreams that it evoked in me, but I can tell you that I would recommend it to anyone. Seems like I feel that about all the books I actually finish reading. Besides the new perspective in life that it presented, I was introduced to a new author. Jon Krakauer also has written other well known books that have now been added to my list, namely Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven.

There are a lot of pictures on flickr on the topic of Chris McCandless, and the story that became this bestseller. Here are links to some of the ones I found interesting; read some of the comments to understand more if you haven't read the book.

by Akfirebug, Into the Wild set

by Chriso2000, Chris McCandless. Jon mentions this picture on his book, and this flickr member has several other ones on there.

There's also a movie for the book [movie]Into the wild[/movie]


  1. you know the only thing I really didn’t like about the book though? Was the last few chapters….it was kind of a let down…The entire book was awesome, thought provoking, exciting….as it followed Chris. I found myself looking back at the maps too.

    I didn’t really appreciate the authors need to spend about 3 chapters on his own life though, I understand the similarities in his journey to Chris’ but this was a book about Chris not him…and in a way I felt he was trying to glorify his own life and sense of adventure by using Chris’ story as a platform to share his…I also found no need to have included the name of his 2 friends who traveled with him to where Chris stayed, and what they did…it was like trying to give them or himself a few minutes of fame.

    I did enjoy the very last part about the last picture taken of Chris before his death… of a happy satisfied Chris…it was a great closing

  2. Agreed. Well kindof.
    I didn’t even notice that it is such a big part of the book until now that you mention it. I did feel a little weird when the story deviated from McCandless’ and went on for a while. Then I quickly dismissed that feeling and actually enjoyed his account of climbing the Devil’s Thumb. To be fair, he does warn us at the beginning, saying that he’ll go back and forth between Chris’ story and his own experiences. My stand now, is that of mixed feelings about the whole thing, yeah it is Chris’ story, but I also feel that it would be lacking if you remove Jon’s own experiences.

    On the two friends that came along to Chris’ “patch of freedom” I have to disagree. I must say that I enjoyed that part of the story just as much as any other part of the book. I feel that it gave us a real feeling of the situations Chris encountered as opposed to just an educated guess. I think being there and seeing what Chris was facing was definitely a crucial part of the whole writing experience.

    I feel that a lot of the descriptions that Jon uses and how he tells us about the area, the bus, and the vegetation is useful. I found it so ironic that if Chris had only explored a few miles along the river he would have found a way out and possibly made it back alive. But then again, maybe he did find this “salvation” and simply chose not to use the basket until it was too late. Somethings we will never know.

  3. You are right, the writer did warn us about talkig about his life, but to be honest I was relieved through every chapter that we didn’t hear about him, because from the beginning, I was afraid that the ties to his life wouldn’t make much sense to me.

    Reading about his climbing Devil’s Thumb was intense, I am just hesitant to want to compare their lives. I think everyone can find simliarities in their life to Chris’, but at the same time, I think its kind of self righteous to take away from Chris’ story a bit. I realize I am probbaly being very harsh on the author, and in a different setting, I think his life is incredible, I just think the book would have been fine without his story.

    Howver I do see the fact that without the author speaking to the family, and going to Alaska, there would probably be no book. So I guess its fair to say, reading about his life is worth being able to read about Chris’ life.

    I see your last point, but I kind of have to throw out the whole “what if” tangent of the basket, of him not having a map, “if only he waited until the water was lower” and say…well fuck. He didn’t.

    So to sit there and alayze a situation in all the things he could have done better is a little pointless to me, from an outside perspective, with maps and gears thats easy to say…but if Chris had a map he might not have gained what he did by doing all of that truly on his own.

    It is really sad to think that after he was enlightened,and was done with his adventure, ready to re-enter society, that he didn’t make it, but I don’t see the point of listing all the things he could have done differently.

    Most of my points come from the fact that Chris was against following the norm, and giving into the ugly parts of society, so its kind of ironic in general that his life turned into a best selling book, and a successful movie…he would probably laugh about it…

    He says “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. ”

    So maybe having a map would have saved his life, or knowing there was a basket there, but would it have made him feel as happy as he did?

  4. This book completely altered my way of thinking.It helped me remember that there’s more out there in life.Chris Mccandless really captures what truly matters in life.Our Western lifestyle is so focused on competition that we lose what matters. That book brought in al lot of inspiration to me.

    What a change

  5. Hi Cole, Thanks for stopping by. I agree, this book is very inspirational. Welcome, do you want to tell me more? What was the most inspiring section to you?

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