Though I originally found the author's style to be difficult to read, I soon began to fall into the story of an extremely complex man who is both move...moreThough I originally found the author's style to be difficult to read, I soon began to fall into the story of an extremely complex man who is both moved by his ambition and held back by the seemingly overwhelming power of his own vision. Conway is endlessly complex and that alone draws the reader into the story. While it may sound odd, I can say that the picture that Gilbert draws of the man is the most human character I have ever read about. (less)
I read "The Last American Man" before this one, and both are similar in many ways. The authors explore two American men and the way that they were inf...moreI read "The Last American Man" before this one, and both are similar in many ways. The authors explore two American men and the way that they were influenced by and how they themselves influenced what it means to be a man in the US. This may seem strange to say American Man vs. Man, but after reading these two books you will see clearly how different Americans are from Europeans. I have read once before that the US is a country of space rather than time, and that Europe is the opposite. Our ancestors came to this vast, untamed wilderness, and through will and sheer force they subjugated this wilderness to create what we have today. We are cowboys, essentially. Nothing is impossible, no idea too improbable. Which is where Chris McCandless and Eustace Conway comes into the picture. Both are idealistic. They have high ideals which few people fully understand and can genuinely fit into. They have clear definitions of right and wrong, they do what they want and let nothing and nobody stop them. I feel however, that "Into The Wild" was a better book, for several reasons. First, I believe Krakaur is a better writer. Gilbert's style is to write as one might speak, profanity and all. It was hard to get into this book at first because of this style, though it must be noted that I had just finished Tolkien's "The Silmarillion" which if you have ever read any of Tolkien you know is a very 'fancy' style of writing. Point being, the two clashed and my mind had to work a bit to get into the groove of Gilbert's work. I also believe that Gilbert's book is lacking because she is a woman. This is not sexist, it's just that a woman obviously has different perceptions of men than men do. It was interesting to see things from a woman's point of view, but unfortunately, I did not really like her view. You also get the sense that she has been 'compromised' by knowing her subject personally. Perhaps this enables her to flesh out his character in words better, and I must say that you truly have a sense of who the man is, but I think Krakaur's analysis of Alexander Supertramp is created by the deeds of the man in question, and not first hand perceptions. Actions speak for themselves. On the other hand, there is really not much to go on, since Alexander's actions themselves are not well documented, and the author adds chapters on other subjects(including his own trip to Alaska to climb a mountain) but perhaps that shows just how pervasive the ethos of the American Male is. That we are all the same, to a degree, that we all have it within ourselves to wander the country following a dream. (less)
A truly remarkable tale about survival in extreme conditions. It does get a bit plodding at times, sometime after they move camp to a different ice fl...moreA truly remarkable tale about survival in extreme conditions. It does get a bit plodding at times, sometime after they move camp to a different ice floe for the 87th time, and before they club 318982 penguins for food. How did they not get scurvy? And why did they treat the entire thing as a failure shortly after their ship was stuck in the ice-surely they had planned on such a thing happening?(less)
I was looking forward to reading this book ever since my brother told me about it (from what little you can glean from a Steven Colbert interview) and...moreI was looking forward to reading this book ever since my brother told me about it (from what little you can glean from a Steven Colbert interview) and I won't say that I was at all disappointed, but it wasn't the page-turner that others on goodreads led me to believe it was. Granted, we all have different tastes, but this book is right up my alley.
Still, I did find it extremely interesting and thorough, covering a subject I was wholly unaware of previously. Its portrait of a classic Victorian explorer looking to discover one of man's great myths brought out the romantic notions of exploration in me, and at the same time made me scratch all over while reading of the myriad dangers the jungle poses(mostly insects, I'm not a big fan)
Often times you can see how its chapters would easily convert into a movie, (which apparently is on the drawing board(starring Brad Pitt Perhaps)) but ultimately it is an excellent true account of an adventure which was the inspiration for so many other movie/book adventures(less)
For my money, the best adventure story ever. Its like a trans-continental roadtrip, you, some friends, and your car(or raft) and only this time there...moreFor my money, the best adventure story ever. Its like a trans-continental roadtrip, you, some friends, and your car(or raft) and only this time there is a fair chance you will sink thousands of miles from anything and nobody will ever see you again. Entertaining, exciting and informative. I learned how to shrink a human skull. Seriously, who else can claim to possess such esoteric knowledge?(less)
excellent story of the beauty and struggle of hiking in America. I had heard that Bryson's friend was in fact, not real but rather his own more negati...moreexcellent story of the beauty and struggle of hiking in America. I had heard that Bryson's friend was in fact, not real but rather his own more negative psyche which worked as a foil and comedic relief. Having done some hiking on the AT myself, I would recommend going with a friend or 2(I think groups of 3 are the best) (less)