I have been fascinated with the story of Christopher McCandless ever since I first heard of him – a young man who walked off into the Alaskan wilderness to live off the land. When I visited Alaska in 2005, I found myself dreaming of backpacking the Yukon Trail and getting lost in the wilderness. For me, of course, it was just a pipe dream and I kissed it goodbye when I boarded the cruise ship that would take me home. McCandless, on the other hand, made his dream a reality. Unfortunately, his story does not have a happy ending.
Jon Krakauer did a fantastic job of bringing the story of Chris McCandless to life. Krakauer, who also traveled to Alaska at the age of 23, gives the reader rare insight into McCandless’ mindset. Using McCandless’ letters, quotes from his favorite authors, and passages from books in his possession at the time of his death, Krakauer pieces together a portrait of a determined young man, a “leather tramp,” and a decent and caring friend.
Krakauer also manages to make the reader feel that he knows the answer to the big question: “Why would someone leave civilization behind and try to survive in the wilds of Alaska?”
According the McCandless himself:
Journal Entry dated 2/27/90