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One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey

4.30  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,759 Ratings  ·  251 Reviews
One Man's Wilderness, written by Sam Keith from the journals of Proenneke, chronicles Proenneke's experiences during the first sixteen months (May, 1968 to September, 1969) of his Alaskan wilderness odyssey.
ebook, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Alaska Northwest Books (first published 1973)
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Jan 05, 2016 JuliaOrlando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adventure / self-reliance, non-fiction, Alaska survival, wilderness, living off the grid
I don't usually read non-fiction, so I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book or not. I am very pleased to say that I not only did I enjoy this book, I loved it!

One Man's Wilderness is a memoir of Dick Proenneke's daily self-reliant life in the Twin Lakes area of Alaska. I am in no way a DIY'er, nor do I have any desire to live off the grid without today's modern conveniences, but I loved reading about the simplistic life that Dick lived during his time in Alaska.

The book is based on Dick's dai
Sam Keith, the author of this book, has taken Richard Proenneke's daily journals, recorded from his sixteen month stay during 1968-1969 alone in the Alaskan wilderness, and set them into a book. Proenneke was fifty-two.

The reader follows how Proenneke constructed his cabin from scratch. Even if exact measurements and construction methods are related, if one is not a carpenter I doubt you would be able to use this as a manual....and maybe then you can wonder if such detail is necessary. After the
Aug 29, 2012 Ken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read about an inspiring man. You might have seen the B&W documentary on PBS television. In the late 70's, Rich Proenneke went to Alaska to live in the wilderness. It is a diary of his first few months while he build his cabin alone at Twin Lakes. He lived there from his mid fifties until his late 80's. While he appears out of touch, his view on life is something the sustainability movement is trying to find. He lived with less. Near the end of the book, he shares his reflections and ...more
Mar 28, 2013 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, this book was amazing. I just returned from a week in Fairbanks and my heart tells me that I am a mountains, forests and lakes sort of person. Even in the winter. I picked this book up at a bookstore and finished it on the plane on the way home. At home, I keep picking it up to look at the amazing pictures. Whilst I know I do not really have the skills or the courage to live a wilderness life for 30 years, as Dick Proenneke did, and would likely be very lonely, as I am an extrovert, there i ...more
Sep 27, 2010 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable story of a man who goes into the wilds of Alaska to build a cabin to live in. The book is written in a diary style, but is very readable. I would love to have 10% of the craftsmanship that Richard has. There are some beautiful pictures that he took (probably on Kodachrome, RIP) that show his building and furniture. Richard was off the grid before anyone at HGTV or Discovery was even born! After reading this book, I've added a visit to his cabin in Lake Clark National Park to ...more
Feb 24, 2014 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
When Richard Proenneke was 51 years old he decided to retire from his job, move to the wilderness of Alaska, build a log cabin and live off the land. He stayed there 33 years before he died. This is his story (at least the first few years of his story) - how he moved there, build the cabin, built a new life and thrived.

So let me say that he did what has always been a dream for me so...I probably liked this book a lot more than most people. I liked it quite a bit but I didn't love it. It's mostly
Jan 08, 2009 Toni marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Jason and I bought these books for our dads last year after we saw the PBS special, which was awesome. Dads loved the books and sent them back to us to read. Jason just finished it and suddenly has ideas about building all of our own furniture from FS land scraps. If we were living in a rustic log cabin, I'd be all for it. But, just can't see it fitting into our modular home decor. True, true the odyssey adds to the growing list of reasons to get to AK.

If you promise to send it back, you can bor
Jan 23, 2016 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
My dream is to go off the grid for a time. I was able to live it through One Man's Wilderness. Reading about Dick's daily life up at Twin Lakes, Alaska was very interesting to me. Here are some of my favorite quotes from it (and keep in mind these are from the late 1960's:)

"I guess that is what bothers so many folks. They keep expanding their needs until they are dependent on too many things and too many other people."

"It is surprising how comfortable a hard bunk can be after you come down off a
Sep 07, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful story of a man who lived 16 months in the deep isolated forest of Alaska. He built his own cabin and everything with his bare hands. He really lived his dream in an amazing way, I wish I could do something like that!
After finishing Cheryl Strayed's WILD, I dove head first into this book. It's about a 50 year-old man who moves from Iowa to Alaska in the early 1970's to build a cabin with no modern tools and attempt to live out there in the wilderness. Who doesn't love that?

However, I have to say I skipped the last fifty pages.

After 2/3rd's in, the "Up at dawn, stoked the fire at 5:00 a.m., temperature -24." got a little old.

But the biggest thing that got too old for me was the "Man's got to do what a man's g
Nov 28, 2011 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoyed Thoreau's Walden
What a terrific book! Drawn from the journals and amazing photography of Dick Proenneke, it is his account of his first year in the back and beyond of Alaska. After retiring with a modest nest egg from his work as a diesel mechanic (and a highly regarded one at that), Proenneke retired to the shores of Twin Lakes, Alaska. His friend and bush pilot, Babe Alsworthy, took him and his equipment there, and visited him occasionally, bringing supplies and letters. During the sixteen months he was there ...more
Sep 06, 2012 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fabulous...but, I've changed my plan. I want to live in Alaska but have someone else bore through the ice to get my water, kill & skin my game, and shovel snow.
Jun 26, 2015 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a marvelous story woven by Sam Keith, of the journals of his life-long friend Richard Proenneke, on his adventure into the Alaskan Bush. Beginning in the spring of 1968, already middle-aged Dick set off on his life's adventure. On the shore of Twin Lakes in the Lake Clark region of southwest Alaska, Dick built a small cabin and lived for many years by himself, living frugally and mainly off the land. Proenneke kept a written, film, and photo journal of his experience, beginning with the ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Proenneke built a cabin in the Alaskan Wilderness on the edge of a lake using only hand tools and his ingenuity. The only way in and out of this idyllic spot was by airplane using floats in the summer and skies in the winter. Keith has taken the daily journals of Poenneke and condensed them for readability. Poenneke describes in detail the challenges of building his cabin as well as the successes. He lived there several winters. 40 below zero at times, with ice on the lake 43 inches thick. Inter ...more
Oct 24, 2013 Hunter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about a man who wanted to fulfill his dream of living off the land, Richard Proenneke. Rich was originally from Promrose, Iowa, and he worked as a civilian on the Kodiak Naval Base. If there was a tough job, Rich was the guy to accomplish it. This book would be good for anyone who likes the outdoors, and building/ working with his/ her hands. I would give this book five stars.

On May 17th, 1968, Richard Proenneke decided to fulfill his dream of living off the wilderness. He decide
This book is the log of Dick Proenneke's 18 months living in the wilderness of Alaska. During this time he built a log cabin completely by himself with hand tools. The book started out a little dry for me because it's pretty much a very short summary (I believe there is a fuller version of his diaries, but this one has been edited) of his day to day work on the cabin and changes in the weather and landscape as the seasons change, as well as animal sightings. But it really grows on you. While I a ...more
Jul 12, 2014 Emlymom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This guy is awesome. The subject of the book, Richard Proenneke, at age 50 (my age) went up to Alaska, built his own cabin, etc. and lived there for 30 years. He is obviously a man of few words (the book is written from his journals) but one where the waters run deep. He notes his progress on his cabin, the animals and plants he interacts with, a daily note on the weather (really gives you an idea of what it is like up there). Not necessarily can't-put-it-down reading, but fuels the imagination. ...more
Nov 07, 2015 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
He had an amazing work ethic and an advetures.
Oct 15, 2014 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dick Proenneke was a mechanic who, at the age of 52, moved to Twin Lakes, Alaska. This was in 1968, and he didn't just move to Alaska: he moved there to build his own log cabin to live in. And not just build the cabin, but build it using only hand tools.

Fortunately for us, he also took a film camera and made journals. PBS aired a documentary of his experience, based on the footage he shot, and I watch it just about every year. It's a perfect fantasy: moving to a remote, pristine location, and us
Mar 13, 2014 Daniel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the book. This is the second time that I have crossed paths with the story of Richard "Dick" Proenneke. It was an easy read and perfect for that hibernating feeling that we sometimes have during a cold snap, a snow storm, a rainy day. Here, everything is supplied, the cabin, the fire, the wildlife, the temperatures to 50 below zero, and your imagination. Some people have used Dick's journal as a" how to build a cabin in the wilderness book". He was a carpenter, veteran and diesel mechan ...more
Kater Cheek
I didn't know anything about this book going into it, but I imagine it's considered a classic of the wilderness-survival memoir subgenre. The author (that is, Pronneke, about whom the book was written, not Keith, who compiled and edited it) was 50 years old in 1969 when he decided to live up in Alaska in a cabin he built himself. I imagine this book's popularity spread like wildfire when it hit the shelves in the time of back-to-the-land and nostalgic anachronistic skill sets.

This is great escap
Kyle C
Jan 17, 2014 Kyle C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The book One Man's Wilderness an Alaskan odyssey by Sam Keith. Is a novel fallowing Dick Proenneke a short strong built man in his fifties well he embraces the Alaskan wilderness and fallows him well he lives with the land. From building a cabin from trees he cuts down to growing and hunting food for him to live.

This is a very good book. I enjoy fallowing Dick Proenneke on his adventure to find his perfect spot to build his cabin in which he will spend most of the years that he has left to live
Mike Studdard
Feb 05, 2016 Mike Studdard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book after watching the DVD. This book is written for the most part as a daily journal of Dick Proenneke who documents his "moving" to a remote wilderness in Alaska, to build a home and a way of life. His logs are upbeat, never critical of his environment, always highlighting his resourcefulness in crafting what is needed from what he has. There is no hint of how he came to have the skills he exhibits as a builder with simple tools or as a photographer or as a pretty good writer.

I t
Apr 30, 2009 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think this is more of a guy book. The best chapters were the last two. Other than that a lot of the book is just him explaining in detail how he makes his cabin, tools etc...
Jan 29, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 12, 2015 Lynette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alaska
Second read - still five stars - one of the best books I've ever read - I am full of awe and admiration for this guy... amazing.
Dec 12, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting, I also recommend watching the documentary on pbs if you get the chance. At times
the writings of Dick Proenneke's journal and the poetic style of Sam Keith don't blend. Dick's words are simple as they were from his journal and he didn't need to be poetic to describe something that
he had a picture of in his head. Dick's real art form was his photography and, of course, handy work.
I don't know if Mr. Keith has actually been to the locations Dick lived and traveled in, but his des
Mar 18, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay first I must admit to everyone that I am entranced with Alaska, so just about anything having to do with it will attract me. This book fascinated me mostly because of the man's skills in making do with little and being so resourceful and level-headed. But then, the chapter entitled "Reflections" just blew me out of the water. I want to learn to see the wonderful things that life shows me and feel that I am often blocked from seeing them because of my own concepts and fears. Dick Proenneke p ...more
Jan 21, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: homesteaders, naturalists
Recommended to Jessica by: Alone in the Wilderness
An interesting journal that is the basis for the perennial film favorite "Alone in the Wilderness" that PBS seems to drag out for every fund drive. Some of the text is verbatim in the film but there is a lot more here. It's hard to say what order one should follow in reading the book and seeing the film but for me, it helped having seen the film first because there is a lot of pretty detailed explanation of the building of the cabin that I just would not be able to visualize without it. I still ...more
Adrian Oprean
Sep 02, 2015 Adrian Oprean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A perfect example on how to live in harmony with the nature.
I think we very need this kind of examples especially today, when we are in such a hurry. We should train ourselves better, to see the good parts of every experience life has to offer us.
Proennecke states it very well: "Funny thing about comfort—one man’s comfort is another man’s misery."
"Eight and a half miles can be covered in minutes with a car on an expressway, but what does a man see? What he gains in time he loses in benefit to
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“There is always a sadness about packing. I guess you wonder if where you're going is as good as where you've been.” 41 likes
“Needs? I guess that is what bothers so many folks. They keep expanding their needs until they are dependent on too many things and too many other people... I wonder how many things in the average American home could be eliminated if the question were asked, "Must I really have this?" I guess most of the extras are chalked up to comfort or saving time.

Funny thing about comfort - one man's comfort is another man's misery. Most people do't work hard enough physically anymore, and comfort is not easy to find. It is surprising how comfortable a hard bunk can be after you come down off a mountain.”
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