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Into The Wild - Jon Krakauer


Registered Member
This is the story of Chris McCandless, a young man from an affuent family who graduated with honors from Emory University in Atlanta. In April, 1992, Chris set off into the Alaska wilderness with a rifle and meager supplies to "live off the land." He headed north of Denali National Park. He was idealistic and strongly influenced by the writings of Thoreau and Tolstoy. Four months later, he was found dead by a party of moose hunters in an abandoned Fairbanks city bus. He had starved to death.

Jon Krakauer traces Chris' odyssey across the west. Chris' parents had assumed their son would go to law school with majors in history and anthropology. Instead, he secretly donated his college fund to charity and left with no word. He changed his name to Alex Supertramp. He abandoned his car and took to hitchhiking. He lived off rice. He traipsed through Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon and Washington. He was liked by the people he met. He spent time in South Dakota and worked for a man named Wayne Westerberg. He befriended an 80-year-old veteran whom he tried to convert to the nomadic life.

Chris kept a journal in which he wrote about himself in the third person. He saw himself as a modern Thoreau. He camped in the Grand Canyon. He worked in a restaurant in Las Vegas. He revelled in his own spirit.

Meanwhile, Chris' parents were worried sick. Krakauer documents their grief.

Krakauer is sympathetic toward Chris and sees him as different from other wierdos who wander off in the wilderness. Chris' story and Krakauer's merge. Krakaeur grew up in Oregon and was taught mountain climbing by his father. He spent time in Alaska as a young man and climbed a peak known as Devils Thumb. He writes about it in detail, relating his mistakes and the unforgiving nature of mountains, ice and freezing temperatures. He questions why he survived his Alaska adventure while Chris perished in his.

It got out of hand with Chris. At least, it would seem so. His disregard for his parents and contempt for the rules of society are hard to defend. His asceticism and high-mindedness are extreme. He became an aimless drifter, a selfish nonconformist.

We are shown the source of Chris' resentment toward his father. His father had a second family by a first marriage. Apparently, it was a factor in this prodigal son's celibacy.

Krakauer admits the gap between himself and his own father, finding it impossible to live the life his father had in mind.

As his wanderlust grew, Chris thought more and more of Alaska. He hitched a ride from Dawson Creek in Canada up the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks. He bought a rifle and hitched again on the George Parks Highway toward the wilderness. He wanted to escape all signs of civilization. He saw Mt. Kinley in the distance. He found the bus and made it his home. For awhile, he was able to live off birds, squirrels and other small game. Krakauer's theory that Chris was poisoned by eating wild potato seeds may or may not be true. Krakauer did not want to believe Chris was suicidal or had a death wish as critics have proposed. Still, Chris was not that far into the bush and might have saved himself had he the will to do so. A year later, Krakauer escorted his parents to the bus.

Krakauer went on to climb Mt. Everest, an expedition during which several of his party perished. He turned the disaster into another bestseller, "Into Thin Air."

"Into the Wild" is being made into a movie starring Emile Hirsch and Vince Vaughn. Sean Penn will direct. It is due in 2007. Jon Krakauer's original story first appeared in Outside magazine.
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Registered Member
Wow. I had heard the story of Chris when he was found, but hadn't thought about him for some time. It's amazing that Krakauer, who I only knew as the author of the Everest book, connected with this story so personally. Very interesting.

I'll certainly look for the movie (always admire Penn's work) and may be tempted to read the book ... thanks for the synopsis. Sounds like a good read that would be very thought-provoking about the choices we make in life.


New Member
My husband is reading this book and he's finding it very difficult to put it down. He's really big into any kind of survival thing. Naturally, his favorite show is Survivor. Go figure.


Secret Agent
Staff member
Well the show "Survivor" is a bit less surviving and a lot more backstabbing. :) I like the show though and can see why anybody into the outdoors would like it.

I find it interesting that Vince Vaughn will be in this movie. It could be a new type of roll for him. :)
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