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Summary

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. His body - along with a camera with five rolls of film, an SOS note, and a cryptic diary written in the back pages of a book about edible plants - was found six months later by a hunter.
©2007 Jon Krakauer (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

Critic reviews

"Terrifying...Eloquent...A heart-rending drama of human yearning." ( New York Times)
"It works. The listener can imagine Franklin's voice under a television special; Krakauer's text fills in the pictures with ease. Franklin wisely chooses to become involved in the text, rather than trying to manipulate it." ( AudioFile)

What listeners say about Into the Wild

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Inspiring and cautionary.

Krakauer's narrative of McCandless' last months is a piecing together of letters, postcards, interviews and notes scrawled in the margin of a book about edible plants. Despite the somewhat scattered threads, Krakauer manages to sew together a tale which is both incredibly inspiring and sadly cautionary.



Readers of this book will, I imagine, fall into one of two camps. One group will see McCandless as an ungrateful fool who didn't make the most of the privileged situation into which he was born. Yes, he gave his money to charity, but it could be argued that someone with McCandless' brains and education could have made more of a difference to the world around him if he had used his idealism and tenacity (and that $25,000) to benefit others instead of indulging his desires to be an intrepid explorer.



The other camp will admire McCandless' daring willingness to live a life less ordinary. He wanted to do something so he did it. He wanted a different kind of life and wished for a different kind of world, and did all he could to make these things a reality. That's a noble ideal, right? Brave even. But also, yes, undoubtedly selfish and somewhat foolhardy.



I find myself with a foot in each of the camps. I understand McCandless' thinking. He was looking for an adventure, for a new and more poignant existence in some untamed part of the world. Unfortunately, he was looking for the sort of adventure that just isn't possible now.



He could have chosen a better adventure. He should have taken measures to ensure that his need for change wouldn't have hurt those who cared about him. But he was also willing to "be the change". In my mind, that made him special.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

best book ever

I've watched the film, and found it inspiring. after listening to this book, it has let me understand him more and gave information about Chris that the film doesnt share

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Into the Wild

I saw the movie before I ever read the book and I used to love it, a guy leaving society behind to live a life of great adventure. It amazing and I think I always wanted to do, even thought I am not half the human Chris was, I didn't do well in school and I didn't go on weekly crusades. Reading this book, changed the way in which I saw him however. He had a good work ethic and had some good ideals. But he was also terribly stubborn and quite a crappy human when it came to the people that cared for him. I feel bad for his parents and the people in who's life he came in and changed. It is fantastic to go on great adventures, but not telling a single soul of where you go is foolish and begs for trouble. Anyway, my rating is more indicative of the story within the book than the book itself. It was a good read, well narrated and quite enjoyable. If this story strikes you as interesting, you should definitely read it.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

As close as you’ll get to being on the road with Chris

A great listen, some beautiful additions in here that really make you feel like you knew Chris in a way. Definitely check out Carine McCandless’ book The Wild Truth too, it’s a perfect companion to this book.

Will definitely listen again.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Love the film, not so much the book

I had high hopes after having seen the film, the book is a slight disappointment.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

truly inspiring

loved it a truly inspiring story , has changed my outlook on life RIP Alex

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    5 out of 5 stars

A truly amazing book.

loved what Chris did and why he did it, he reminds me of me. Rip

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Food For Thought

A sad but well written (and read) story of an idealistic young man, perhaps born out of his time.
The author uncovers a surprising amount of detail about his subject's literal and philosophical journey. It is read in an engaging and appropriately unhistrionic style. There are some editing errors, mostly repeated sentences here and there, but it's not a deal breaker.
Gripping and heartbreakingly redemptive. Recommended.

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    4 out of 5 stars

An interesting read

I seen the film before I read the book and I did like the film... the book is well written and the author gives the reader the freedom to make his or hers own decision about why a young man would go off into the Alaskan wilderness never to return. He gives the facts as they were and doesn't judge. I like that. Worth a read/listen

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not great

Got this as I loved the film (if it's ok to love a film that's so sad and based on truth). I didn't realise that there was so little really known about Chris and actually hardly any diary info or first hand thoughts of his so it's all just guess work and info from those who met him. The main issue I have though is the other explorer narratives which are discussed and which just get confusing to the point you don't know if it's Chris' story or someone else's... especially if you take a break and come back. Too dry for me and just would have liked more real info on his journey than hearsay. The film made it feel like there was lots of info on really what happened to him and what he went through but that clearly isn't the case. No one really knows why he did what he did which I didn't appreciate on watching the film.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Craig Mitchell
  • 07-08-07

A Book that Never Left Me

I picked this book up in an airport bookstore. You know how that goes. It's slim pickings for anything other than a NYT Bestseller, Romance novel, or books on improving your golf swing. But unlike most last-minute-airport -purchased books, I had it in my hands at every opportunity until I finished it. 'Riveting' is the word. After you've read it, 'haunting' is the word; I've never entirely escaped it.

This is the story of Christopher Johnson McCandless – a young man with tremendous Jack London and Hemingway ideals that wanders unprepared into the Alaskan wilderness. The rest of the book contains what otherwise might pass as filler – but isn’t; the stories of other young men, their idealism gone awry, who wander into the wilderness on journeys of self discovery and mad attempts to triumph over nature.

Krakauer is qualified, too. He used to be one of these reckless, idealistic young men. He was a central participant in his infamous novel “Into Thin Air”. I’ll never forget his recollection of solo free-climbing (no safety ropes or partner) a very dangerous peak, thousands of feet in the air, with only his ice pick and crampons, feeling like his legs were going to go out from under him, and worrying that he’d faint, because behind his back just out of sight, there was nothing except the great roaring of nothingness and a drop to the ground that no one would witness. Crazier? McCandless or the young Krakauer?

What you’re missing out on are the pictures of McCandless’ journeys. Make absolutely certain to get to a book store and at least flip through a copy. The cover photo sums up the reason why this book continues to haunt me. It’s a picture of a snow covered, abandoned school bus – a bleak landscape, the middle of nowhere; pines, a grey sky, no one in sight – that McCandless used as a shelter, stranded and struggling for survival in the wilds of Alaska.

122 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Stephen T. Mcdavid
  • 28-02-08

Compelling

Highly recommended. I was mesmerized as much by the author's account of his own extreme wilderness climbs as by Chris McCandless' journey of self-discovery. If you do buy this, listen again (and again) to Chris' letter to the old man who befriended and wanted to adopt him. It is a challenge to us all to forego the comfort and safety of ordinary lives and seek instead the raw experience of life without boundaries. His extremism cost him his life, but his legacy is a reminder to live each day, not merely exist.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • S
  • 26-01-08

Wild

I had seen this book in the store many times but never thought it looked any good. Then a friend said I'd love it, so I gave it a try.

Contrary to the many negative reviews of the narrator, the story, etc. (which also made me not want to buy it), I thought the narration was suitable for the story and not bad at all.

The story is not necessarily 'new,' but it is told in such a way that it was hard to put down. And there is much more to it than 'just a guy going into the wild and starving to death.' The end is interesting and unexpected.

One reviewer said the book had no point and they just didn't get it. Well, I don't get that. The book has many points and was interesting on many levels and points of view. It is a story of survival, and of death, but it is also a story of idealism, struggle on many levels, seeking the immaterial, and a journey in itself, with much background information.

For anyone who has ever sought something more than the consumer world offers, this book will very likely push a few buttons. And for those who think this guy was just an idiot like Grizzly Man, there is much more to it than that.

See the movie after reading the book.



38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amber
  • 01-01-12

Bitterly dissapointed with narration

I love this book. I love the story, I think it's told perfectly, a wonderful balance between the life of Chris, his family, his friends, his rides, the people Chris was likened to, and Krakauer's own experiences. To the previous reviewer who questioned the need to include Krakauer's own experience: The story could easily be told without that section, but it would have suffered for the omission. Among other things, it helped bridge the gap between "what we think we know" and "what a near-death in the frozen wilderness is actually like".

So why three stars? Well, the title says it all. This book is all but ruined by the narrator. In the book there are quotes all over the place - from Chris, from people Krakauer spoke to, from Krakauer himself. And yet the narrator does not change his voice at all for each of the different parts. I found myself getting confused - is he still reading from Chris's journal or is he back to Krakauer's voice? It completely wrenches you out of the story, and stops the heart of the story coming across.

Add to that the audio-sin of dodgy recording... a repeated line or two due to someone not worrying about listening to the final product before releasing it (probably in too much of a rush to cash in on the movie success to worry) makes this an audio book I would not recommend.

As to the actual book - do yourself a favour, buy, beg, borrow - find a copy. Remember your young ideals. Remember the times you've done stupid things that could've ended very differently. Enjoy this book.

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Leslie
  • 02-03-09

Love this book, left me wanting more!

What a perplexing young man. It is a tragedy that "Alex Supertramp" did not live to tell his own story. It would have been magnificent to glimpse into his mind, even for a second. To find out what he really was thinking. Not many men or woman hold themselves to such a strict moral code.

I wish that I could find more stories that move me in such a way.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael Buckingham
  • 07-11-07

Great Read- Great Listen

I've read this book at least 5 times over the past 10 years and I'm riveted every time. The audio book is awesome but I'm disappointed that Mr. Krakauer didn't narrate it himself. He's a great author and even better narrator in my opinion. Don't pass this up.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-04-08

Into The Wild

Wow, this book will haunt you. Jon Karkauer did some excellent research as well as shared his own simular experiances in writing this one and I am sure Chris' family really appreciated it.

The movie was great but you have to read the book to get the full impact of this story.

I just can't get this one out of my mind.
You must read it!

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin
  • 23-03-13

Much better than the film, but...

Having been a huge fan of this story since I first heard of it, I was excited to listen to the audio version. While there is nothing wrong with the narration, per se, the post production leaves much to be desired. There are several times, as others have noted, when a line of audio is repeated. Although it only happens a few times, it takes away from the emotion and flow of the story. Even while listening the second time, these errors bothered me.

Aside from a few flaws, I did thoroughly enjoy the book. As an avid traveler of the country, I can relate to Chris's need to feel freedom. This is the perfect companion on a long road trip.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Valerie
  • 08-10-07

this books changes you

This by far is the best Audible purchase I have made. Simple said it is an incredible story and told in splendid manner. I think about this book often and it has changed how I live my life.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • BooksAndTrouble
  • 29-03-15

Frustrating yet fascinating

Have you ever read a book that frustrated you to the core, but yet morbid fascination kept you glued to the pages? “Into the Wild” is one of those books. It’s been a few days since I finished it, but my mind keeps drifting off to that haunting last chapter when Christopher McCandless starved to death in a rusty, abandoned bus deep in the wilds of Alaska.

I just can’t wrap my brain around the risks he took, and the self-centered decisions he made. It’s human nature to not like what you can’t understand. So maybe that’s why I had a hard time giving Christopher (aka “Alexander Super-Tramp”) the benefit of the doubt.

I complained to my husband about my frustration with the guy. Apparently, he believes men have an innate desire to explore nature and discover uncharted territory. He also pointed out that Christopher was just a kid, and that all 20-somethings do stupid things. I get that…kind of. Sure, we all do stupid things when our temporal lobes aren’t fully developed, but what Christopher did was so extreme, and so bizarre. It can’t just be chocked up to the ol’ “kids will be kids” theory.

The thing is, I can’t get pass Christopher’s one big character flaw. For someone who so vehemently preaches the gospel for human rights and social justice, he didn’t do a damned thing for anyone except himself. Sure he visited some homeless camps, fed them a few sandwiches and dropped a few bucks in their tin cups. But really, he wasn’t concerned about helping people out in the long-term. In fact, he actually did more harm than good by hitchhiking in and out of people’s lives so quickly. He had a way of staying in a town long enough to start building relationships with new friends only to vanish into the night, leaving them confused and heartbroken.

I felt so bad for Ron, an old widower who wanted to be Christopher’s grandfather. Not only did Christopher leave Ron in the lurch, he also had the gall to send him a really offensive letter. In his sanctimonious ramblings, he belittled Ron’s conventional lifestyle, imploring him to sell all his belongings and hit the road. In essence, he told the old man that his life was crap, and that it wasn’t worth living unless he embraced an extreme, transient lifestyle. Huh. This is coming from a guy who preached the gospel of individuality and autonomy.

I’m not a big fan of people who abandon the ones they love for the pursuit of self-discovery and all that other existential bullshit. That’s why I really didn’t like the book “Wild” and refuse to read “Eat, Pray, Love.” His parents did have their flaws, his dad especially, but they were the Waltons compared to my own pitiful family. He crucified them for every injustice, large or small, including trying to buy him a new car (oh boo hoo). Coming from a girl who had to ride the bus well into her twenties, he doesn’t get my sympathies.

One thing that the author so astutely pointed out, is that Christopher was somewhat of a hypocrite. He worshipped a bunch of authors and philosophers who were drunks and sexual deviants. In his travels he even befriended a man who habitually beat up his girlfriend. But yet he could never grant clemency to his own father for cheating on his wife decades ago.

I know I’m being hard on the guy, but that’s partly because I’m so frustrated that he had to die. He was clearly a brilliant kid who could master a skill in just about any field. He was a natural entrepreneur, a computer software engineer, a writer, a political scientist. He even had plans to become a lawyer, a profession that would have allowed him to correct all of those social injustices that he so passionately decried. It’s a shame he chose to live the transient life with no intention of connecting with people and making an impact on the world. I’m all for getting in touch with nature and exploring far and distant lands, but humans are social animals. We need to share our experiences with others, a lesson that Christopher learned the hard way. In my humble opinion, if the world was full of “Alexander Super-Tramps” it wouldn’t be a better place.

8 people found this helpful