sylas's Reviews > Into the Wild

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
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Dec 28, 07

bookshelves: non-fict
Read in December, 2007

After watching the film of the same name, I was interested to learn more about the life of the kid described. His was a captivating story and I was hungry for further details of Alex Supertramp's life.

However, this book mostly served as a reminder of why I don't like to read books written by journalists. Jon Krakauer is a fine writer, but like many other journalists is prone to irritating exaggeration and spent quite a bit of time romanticizing the parallels between Supertramp's life and his own.

In fact, the entire book was a romanticization of the ultimately fatal journey of Supertramp. It's not that I take issue with the telling of Alex's tale (I found his two-year journey to be interesting and somewhat surprising), it's that Krakauer seemed bent on clearing Supertramp's name.

Krakauer tells us that after publishing the preliminary story of Supertramp's death in Outside magazine, he received a large response from readers less than impressed with Alex's mission. Krakauer seemed to look at Into the Wild as an opportunity to convince readers that Alex wasn't just some stupid kid ignorantly seeking adventure in dangerous places; that somehow because of Supertramp's well-educated and privileged background he was in some way intellectually and morally superior to the many other individuals who have embarked on similar journeys. Karakauer wants us to understand that he believes Alex embarked on what amounts to "a rite of passage in our culture" (pg. 190) and that it wasn't his mistakes that caused his untimely death, but rather circumstances out of his control. We are meant to feel sympathy for the poor privileged white kid who was merely fulfilling his role as twenty-something, upper class white male.

Krakauer identified strongly with Alex Supertramp (as noted in chapters 14 and 15 which are devoted entirely to stories paralelling Krakauer's experiences with Alex's) and, in my opinion, took away quite a bit from Alex's story by entwining it with his own. Though I found the story of Alex and other's fatal journeys into "the wild" to be somewhat interesting from a sociological perspective, ultimately this book did very little for me. Hence the two stars.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Jenn Great review, it expresses what I felt during the time I read it. I was hoping it would be objective, but the chapters from Krakauer's own life did me in.


Dixie Diamond I thought that Krakauer's personal accounts could have added a lot to the story had Krakauer not negated them by discounting his own intelligence and blindly idolizing McCandless. Since he did, though, those chapters ended up being dead ends.

Seriously, he almost sounds like a religious fanatic: McCandless was the unknowable God and Krakauer was the I'm-not-worthy disciple.


Ashley Very well said, Sylas. The fact that Krakauer jumps in with two entire chapters about his own experiences...it was as though he was desperately trying to 'connect' himself to McCandless.

I bought the book to read up on McCandless's journey, and the life that led him to hit the road- I don't care about Krakauer's "adventures"! I agree with Dixie that it could have possibly been used to actually shed light on Chris's experiences, but it just came off...contrived, in my opinion.


Neal I agree that the parts connecting himself to the story went on a bit too long and too focused on his own accomplishments he could have just written another book on his own adventures as a young man and it would have been interesting. It felt disruptive to the story here though and annoyed me slightly. The reason I was reading the book is that I already could relate to Chris and his story I didn't need a tie in from the author but at least he warned me in the preface so I can't ding him for it.


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