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To Build a Fire and Other Stories

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  4,329 ratings  ·  156 reviews
This edition of To Build a Fire and Other Stories includes an Introduction, Biographical Note, and Afterword by David Lubar. In these collected stories of man against the wilderness, London lays claim to the title of greatest outdoor adventure writer of all time.


- To build a fire
- Love of life
- Chinago
- Told in the drooling ward
- The Mexican
- War
- South of the
Paperback, 480 pages
Published May 15th 1999 by Tor Classics (first published November 1908)
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Nancy I haven't read many of his books, but my favorite, so far is Sea Wolf. I felt as if I was an observer to all the action he describes. Sea Wolf and the…moreI haven't read many of his books, but my favorite, so far is Sea Wolf. I felt as if I was an observer to all the action he describes. Sea Wolf and the other Jack London books are ones I am reading aloud to my brother who isn't able to read right now. I didn't like White Fang as it had several 'gory' parts I didn't want to read aloud. (less)

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Aug 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
"He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances."

To Build a Fire is story enough by itself, towering over the other stories.

"It did not lead him to meditate upon ... man's frailty ... able only to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold."

Brutal and simple, the perfect Jack London story like David Allen Coe sang the perfect country and western song.

"He chuckled at his foolishness, and as he chuckled he noted the numbness creeping
Required reading in college. I enjoyed most of the short stories in this collection.
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A a good collection of some of the finest short stories ever produced by an American writer.
I gave this 5 stars in paper format, but never reviewed it. It's been decades since I last read it, so I'm overwriting that edition with this one. I remember some of the stories very well.

Overall, the stories ranged from OK to fantastic, but overall, they were quite good. It was depressing as hell, though. It's a tough world where a 'happy' ending is surviving intact. I'm not surprised I let so many years go by between reads. Definitely memorable, but certainly not uplifting. Still, I recommend
Deborah Sheldon
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I met him first in a hurricane. And though we had been through the hurricane on the same schooner, it was not until the schooner had gone to pieces under us that I first laid eyes on him." These are nail-biting stories, full of action and peril and faraway places, yet London subtly infuses each narrative with such pathos that I sometimes - unexpectedly - teared up. Wonderful stuff.
London can write.
Raphael Rosen
Jun 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!

Jack London's short stories are astonishing. I read them last year, and my jaw was agape the entire time. I highly recommend them.
Mark Gannon
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, fiction
A highly enjoyable read. Jack London writes in an engaging and entertaining way that captures the imagination and keeps the reader interested. The stories are short and don't bore by virtue of not being to long. Five stars for this short collection.
David Nichols
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
While probably best-known for his novels (especially CALL OF THE WILD and WHITE FANG), London made much of his literary revenue from his short stories. Most of his shorter fiction, as this collection demonstrates, was mediocre, weighed down by unengaging plots, racist language, and one- or two-dimensional characters. There are several very fine pieces here, however, including the title story; "Love of Life," which was apparently the last story Lenin had read to him (he enjoyed it); the ...more
James Blatter
Mar 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I believe there is no more emotional and effecting story written in human history than "To Build A Fire" if this story does not bring you to tears, does not remain with you for the rest of your life than you have no idea what it meansd to be a human and have love and companionship with animals or other humans
Jun 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adolescent
I really had a Jack London phase in middle school. I remember writing a short story based on the same style and even featuring the same morals. Good times.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
If I were basing my rating on whether I liked these stories or not, I would give them 2 stars; however, I will increase my rating to 3 stars based upon London's form and technique. I don't like to generalize, but I am guessing that these stories of adventure appeal more to boys (and men) rather than to girls (or women). The 25 pieces in this collection range from stories of survival in the Klondike/Yukon, gold prospectors, headhunters in the jungle, revolutionaries in Mexico, lepers in Hawaii, ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Three short stories. One about an indentured Chinese servant who, in punishment for the obfuscating omerta among his fellow laborers during the trial, is convicted by French colonists of a crime to which he was merely a witness. He daydreams of how the princely accumulation of fifty cents a day over five indentured years will let him to retire to his homeland in prosperity and allow him to meditate in his walled garden undisturbed for the rest of his days, even as his severe sentencing is ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing collection of great stories varying from the expected Klondike to ones about class and indigenous peoples. There was even a science fiction one that could have been written by Lovecraft himself.
Londons writing style is very modern and easy to follow. Im kicking myself for having not read his works sooner.
Jul 20, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gold Prospectors, Those with a passion for cold, Armchair adventurers, Short-story fans
As far as I can recall this marks my first experience with the well known Jack London. 'To Build a Fire' is another book I picked up out of a buddies new apartment in Seoul as he refuses to deal with words in print form. While I at first regretted my decision, I decided to stick with it and was appropriately rewarded! Allow me to explain. . .

First of all, it's been a while since I dug into short stories or, more specifically, classic short stories. I remember signing up for a class in college
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An Odd1
Jun 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
20 stories mostly first-person about doomed subject, suffering probably from real life "enforced labor" p 267, more gallows than humor in "gallows humor" p 350. End is usually their death "The Law of Life" p 185. Always man, near prime of life, downtrodden, capitulates to harsh climate.

10 illustrations, I cannot find credit, shaded, of W. coast Indian and Inuit style like many subjects (those are women who feed, clothe, help loves), hatched textures, abstract landscapes, floating faces,
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stuff
I've never read anything by Jack London before. This man can write! I really enjoyed these stories and was surprised to find that many of them were not set in the cold, icy North. Jack can write about any setting; from city life to tropical beaches to the icy North.
I particularly enjoyed his stories on individuals from societies different than our North American one. He can get into people's minds and situations.
My favorite stories in the book were:
To Build A Fire
The Chinago - really enjoyed
Mar 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: light-reading
It is unfortunate that London is grouped in with classic literature. Compared to the greats, he pales. Nevertheless, his writing is still quite exciting, gripping, and insightful. The tales he weaves take place in areas few know much about, yet he is able to take us into the minds of men living in extreme conditions throughout the globe.

The most famous story, of course, is To Build a Fire. I was surprised to find that his other short stories has just as much merit and originality. At times I was
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ana by: Bugs Dodger
Shelves: short-stories
Great narrative; got the feeling I was there in the book living all those stories with the characters.

To build a fire, A piece of steak, Chinagos and Told in the Drooling Ward are so emotional, captivating. I read faster and faster because I wanted to know how the story was evolving in each word, page. I didnt feel the same about other stories , thats why I give this book 4 stars.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic-lit
While London's book doesn't make for the cheeriest of readings (I believe you could end every one with "...and then he died."), he is indeed a master at spinning a captivating tale. The title story was probably my least favorite and among the most depressing of the collection, but for those who harbor a palate for the macabre, the book will surely delight.
Aug 04, 2007 rated it liked it

These stories were weirder than I recalled.
Pretty much each of these stories is a snapshot of a time and place that wont ever be able to be duplicated again. Each short story in its own right is a classic tale of adventure and humanity in one of the worlds most harshest locations.

London conveys some rather shrewd psychological insights into the great lengths that wilderness men would have to go to, to survive some of their adventures. Its definitely Man Against Nature in the classic battle of all time in a good portion of these 25 short
Leah Angstman
I like Jack London, and this is some typical fare, minus any lighthearted humor. This collection contains three lengthy short stories that all revolve around the human condition, desperation, the struggle for survival, and the fallibility of men: "The Build a Fire," "The Chiango," and "Love of Life." London is a heavy-handed writer, and this work is loaded in incorrectly used restrictive clauses and too many adjectives, but he does dig deep down into every detail of desperation and the steps one ...more
John W.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read To Build a Fire and other Klondike Stories in the Library of America collection. The other stories included To The Man on Trail, The White Silence, In A Far Country, The Wit of Porportuk. To Build A Fire is a classic and deserves its fame but some of the others give ideas of how different people and groups of people react to the cold of the Yukon and to one another.

Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There may have been one story in there that was mediocre, but that may have also been because I was comparing it to an array of other elite, well-written short stories. I knew London from his novels, but I never expected his short stories could rival Hemingways works. Side note: I was stoked to discover one of the stories was adapted to the Cohen brothers Buster Scruggs! I highly recommend this book. ...more
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I was really impressed by these stories. The ancient yet relevant feeling to them, and the complex value systems they promote and exist within are so out of date, but not out of touch with today's reader. The ferver of the characters and the bleakness of the overall environment was really welcoming to the reader.
Sarah Pitman
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
The title story was really good. London shows himself to be a master of the man vs nature conflict with excellent, vivid details and a slow but mounting crisis that leads to destruction. But the others were just average and had little arc and sudden, unsatisfying endings. Plus plenty of racism and sexism. ...more
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
American Literature II is a class that I am currently taking. During this class we are required to read novels, poems, and short stories that we might not have ever read otherwise. Some are good and some are bad; however, all are legendary and useful for the overall growth of literature everywhere.
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fine assortment of short stories. Each story in its own way affirms the vitality and tenacity of the human spirit, for better or worse, through London's unique and imperfect lens. Reading London is an immersive exercise in time travel.
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Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, social-activist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.

London drew heavily on his life experiences in his writing. He spent

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“You have grudged the very fire in your house because the wood cost overmuch!" he cried. "You have grudged life. To live cost overmuch, and you have refused to pay the price. Your life has been like a cabin where the fire is out and there are no blankets on the floor." He signaled to a slave to fill his glass, which he held aloft. "But I have lived. And I have been warm with life as you have never been warm. It is true, you shall live long. But the longest nights are the cold nights when a man shivers and lies awake. My nights have been short, but I have slept warm” 18 likes
“So said Hair-Face, and they killed him, because, they said, he was a wild man and wanted to go back and live in a tree. It was very strange. Whenever a man arose and wanted to go forward all those that stood still said he went backward and should be killed. And the poor people helped stone him, and were fools. We were all fools, except those who were fat and did no work. The fools were called wise, and the wise were stoned. Men who worked did not get enough to eat, and the men who did not work ate too much.” 5 likes
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