Into the Wild
By John Krakauer
Published by Anchor Books
Copyright © 1996
In 1990 Christopher Johnson McCandless graduated from Emory College in Atlanta with a world of opportunity in front of him. He had a family that loved him, that was relatively well off, and had connections. He also had $25,000 in a scholarship fund and a real good chance of getting into Harvard Law. Instead of pursuing that life, he cut ties with his family, friends, and opportunities by jumping into his old yellow Datsun and heading out on a two year journey of personal discovery. Unfortunately his final destination in his journey, the Alaskan wilderness, claimed his life.
“Into the Wild” painstakingly pieces together Chris McCandless’ two year odyssey culminating in his death. It recounts where he had been, what he had done, and how he lived. This book also explores his mindset, his psychological make up if you will, as well as the mindset and lifestyles of others who had taken similar journeys and risks, as comparative studies, to give us an in depth look at Chris McCandless and his life and death.
When one begins it might be thought that this is a story of a spoiled rich kid who was rebelling against his parents and society and who was careless and stupid, and to a certain extent that may be true. The picture becomes clearer though of a young man who was more concerned with finding out what it was to really be alive in conjunction with the natural world around him, and who was not concerned with money as it pertains to acquiring things. One sees a young man trying to come to terms with family issues and with what kind of man he wants to be. Unfortunately, when he seemed to come to a conclusion as to what was important in life it would turn out to be too late. While his untimely end could in part be traced to carelessness, ultimately it was due to an uncommon mistake that no one could have foreseen.
While this story is tragic, taking this trip with Chris reminded me of many important things: While money is necessary in life it is not the most important thing. And adventure is good but only if you live to tell about it. Don’t take your family for granted. Be Willing to Forgive. And, what is the sense in living a good life if you don’t have anyone to share it with?
This is an enthralling real life story that I highly recommend.