Into the Wild Book: Author's Note

This is the author's note directly from the Into the Wild book. I think it serves as a great introduction to this story and also outlines Jon Krakauer's stance on this subject, an issue which has been of much controversy:

"In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do East coast family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. Four months later his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters.

Shortly after the discovery of the corpse, I was asked by the editor of Outside magazine to report on the puzzling circumstances of the boy's death. His name turned out to be Christopher Johnson McCandless. He'd grown up, I learned, in an affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., where he'd excelled academically and had been an elite athlete.

Immediately after graduating, with honors, from Emory University in the summer of 1990, McCandless dropped out of sight. He changed his name, gave the entire balance of a twenty-four-thousand-dollar savings account to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet. And then he invented a new life for himself, taking up residence at the ragged margin of our society, wandering across North America in search of raw, transcendent experience. His family had no idea where he was or what had become of him until his remains turned up in Alaska.

Working on a tight deadline, I wrote a nine-thousand-word article, which ran in the January 1993 issue of the magazine, but my fascination with McCandless remained long after that issue of Outside was replaced on the newsstands by more current journalistic fare. I was haunted by the particulars of the boy's starvation and by vague, unsettling parallels between events in his life and those in my own. Unwilling to let McCandless go, I spent more than a year retracing the convoluted path that led to his death in the Alaska taiga, chasing down details of his peregrinations with an interest that bordered on obsession. IN trying to understand McCandless, I inevitably came to reflect on other, larger subjects as well: the grip wilderness has on the American imagination, the allure high-risk activities hold for young men of a certain mind, the complicated, highly charged bond that exists between fathers and sons. The result of this meandering inquiry is the book now before you.

I won't claim to be an impartial biographer. McCandless's strange tale struck a personal note that made a dispassionate rendering of the tragedy impossible. Through most of the book, I have tried--and largely succeeded, I think--to minimize my authorial presence. But let the readers be warned: I interrupt McCandless's story with the fragments of a narrative drawn from my own youth. I do so in the hope that my experiences will throw some oblique light on the enigma of Chris McCandless.

He was an extremely intense young man and possessed a streak of stubborn idealism that did not mesh readily with modern existence. Long captivated by the writing of Leo Tolstoy, McCandless particularly admired how the great novelist had forsaken a life of wealth and privilege to wander among the destitute. In college McCandless began emulating Tolstoy's asceticism and moral rigor to a degree that fist astonished, and then alarmed, those who were close to him. When the boy headed off into the Alaska bush, he entertained no illusions that he was trekking into a land of milk and honey; peril, adversity, and Tolstoyan renunciation were precisely what he was seeking. And that is what he found, in abundance.

For most of the sixteen-week ordeal, nevertheless, McCandless more than held his own. Indeed, were it not for one or two seemingly insignificant blunders, he would have walked out of the woods in August 1992 as anonymously as he had walked into them in April. Instead, his innocent mistakes turned out to be pivotal and irreversible, his name became the stuff of tabloid headlines, and his bewildered family was left clutching the shards of a fierce and painful love.

A surprising number of people have been affected by the story of Chris McCandless's life and death. In the weeks and months following the publication of the article in Outside, it generated more mail than any other article in the magazine's history. This correspondence, as one might expect, reflected sharply divergent points of view: Some readers admired the boy immensely for his courage and Noble ideals; others fulminated that e was a reckless idiot, a wacko, a narcissist who perished out of arrogance and stupidity--and was undeserving of the considerable media attention he received. My convictions should be apparent soon enough, but I will leave it to the reader to form his or her own opinion of Chris McCandless.

Jon Krakauer
April 1995"

If you are interested in reading the Into the Wild book for yourself, see the links below, or browse the categories to the left for more ruminations about Chris McCandless's life.


Blog Catalog directory

Chris McCandless Photos

Here is a small collection of Chris McCandless photos....

More McCandless photos coming soon....

Into the Wild Music

The Into the Wild music soundtrack is unique in that it was composed specifically for this movie. The compositions added really enhanced the inspirational and haunting elements in the movie and kept the heart dipping and soaring with the themes of freedom.

Composed by Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder, the Into the Wild music can be described as folk music with elements of rock and roll. Vedder claimed the project really brought him to a realization of how "song could [...] become another tool in the storytelling. Rolling Stone's David Fricke says Vedder "[tosses] his weighty baritone onto earthy, folky tracks that temper the romance of absolute freedom with an eerie foreboding." As this is inherently the theme of Into the Wild, Vedder seems to have done his job, and the album met with its own independent success, selling about 39,000 copies in the first week after it was release.

"Hard Sun," the album's most successful track, originally written by Gordon Peterson and featuring backup vocalist Corin Tucker, reached number thirteen on the Modern Rock charts. Vedder won a 2008 Golden Globe Award for the song "Guaranteed." The song was nominated for Best song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media at the 2008 Grammy Awards and a 2008 World Soundtrack Award for Best Original Song Written Directly for a Film. Another song, "Rise," was nominated for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo at the 2009 Grammy Awards. To further accent the album's success Vedder was nominated for a Golden Globe for his work on the Into the Wild music soundtrack.

The Tracklist:
"Setting Forth" – 1:37
"No Ceiling" – 1:34
"Far Behind" – 2:15
"Rise" – 2:36
"Long Nights" – 2:31
"Tuolumne" – 1:00
"Hard Sun" (Indio) – 5:22
"Society" (Jerry Hannan) – 3:56
"The Wolf" – 1:32
"End of the Road" – 3:19
"Guaranteed" – 7:22
"Guaranteed" contains the hidden track "Guaranteed" (Humming Vocal) at 4:40.
iTunes bonus tracks

If you are interested in purchasing the Into the Wild music album, compare the prices on Amazon (see links below).

Into the Wild: Krakauer--Short Biography

Before writing Into the Wild, Krakauer was a best-selling author and long-time writer for Outside magazine. He was born and raised in Corvallis, Oregon and received a degree in environmental studies from Hampshire College in Massachusetts. After college, he worked as a carpenter and commercial salmon fisherman.

Krakauer began his writing career with Outside magazine, but his early freelance work was also featured in Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic Magazine, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Architectural Digest. In later years, his articles appeared in GEO, TIME, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Jon Krakauer developed a passion for mountaineering at eight years old, and, starting with his writing for Outside Magazine, focused his craft on a love for the outdoors. One of the defining points in his life was three weeks he spent in solitude on the Stikine Icecap in Southeast Alaska and a dangerous decision to forge a new path up the Devil's Thumb alone, an experience which almost took his life. Another well-known climb of his was up the Cerro Torre in the Andes, one of the world's toughest technical summits.

Of course, Krakauer's most famous venture was the ill-fated Mount Everest disaster described in Into Thin Air when four of Krakauer's teammates met their deaths on the peak in a bad storm. First recalling the tragic event in an Outside magazine article which earned a National Magazine Award, he later turned it into a best-selling book. Fifteen people died on Everest climbs that same year--more people that died any other year in Everest history--Krakauer became an open critic of those promoting the challenging peak for commercial gain. This is ironic considering the number of critics who berate Krakauer and Sean Penn for what some see as glamorization of young Chris McCandless' tragic mistakes.

After Into Thin Air reached best-seller status, it was dubbed as "Book of the Year" by TIME magazine, one of the "Best Books of the Year" by the New York Times Book Review, a finalist for a 1997 National Book Critics Circle Award, and one of three finalists for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in General Non-Fiction. It is now available in twenty-four different languages and truly holds a place in the top ranks of modern non-fiction.

Into the Wild, another story about taking unnecessary risks and facing the consequences, also started as an article in Time Magazine. As he explores Chris Joseph McCandless' spiritual and physical journey, trying to find sense of the risks McCandless took when he walked into the wild, Krakauer recounts his own foolish decision to climb the Devil's Thumb alone and attempts to use the parallels between their experiences to reach a greater understanding. Krakauer expresses a great admiration for McCandless' spiritual journey and strives to show he was not just another nutcase walking unprepared into the Alaskan wilderness. Into the Wild became another best-seller.

Today, Krakauer is known for his charity work. He participates in the American Himalayan Foundation and the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, and after the Everest disaster he formed the Everest '96 Memorial Fund using royalties from Into Thin Air to assist impoverished Himalayans and support environmental organizations.

Krakauer has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, who stated that "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer. His account of an ascent of Mount Everest has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind."

Other notable works include Eiger Dreams, a collection of mountaineering essays, and a book of photographs called Iceland: Land of the Sagas. In his latest book, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Krakauer examines his experiences with religious fundamentalism and the power it has to shape lives. He is also the editor of the Modern Library Exploration series, a collection of previously out of print exploration/adventure classics which explore "the shifting rationales given by explorers over the ages for why anyone would willingly subject himself to such unthinkable hazards and hardships."

With the success of Into Thin Air and Into the Wild, Krakauer has established himself as a modern literary legend, and his career will surely bring future success.

Into the Wild Online Store

Go see my Into the Wild online store!

All my products are through Amazon, a trusted platform, and are related to the story which has touched so many lives. Order the Into the Wild book, Into the Wild Video, Into the Wild Music Soundtrack, Into the Wild posters, mp3s, and more...

If it is somehow related to this book, you will find it in the Into the Wild online store.

Thanks for visiting! :-)

"Into the Wild" Quotes

There are many "Into the Wild" quotes that are worth remembering. In my opinion, Chris McCandless was a lot more than some dumb kid that got lost in naive ideas. I believe Chris Mccandless was a courageous philosopher who had the guts to try and live his big ideas. He knew the path he chose was risky, but he chose that path because he wanted the experience of being alive. Here are some of some of the best quotes from the book:

"Two years he walks the earth.
No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, 'cause "the West is the best." And now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climactic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual pilgrimage. Ten days and nights of freight trains and hitchhiking bring him to the Great White North. No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.
— Alexander Supertramp
May 1992"

"Surely all Americans have the right to give their money only to those causes which they support. But what kind of society has this created? A society where the ignorant reign. A society where enlightened must hold their tongues. A nation whose politicians must profess half-hearted devotion to an ancient fable or face the disastrous consequences of speaking their true mind."

"Some people feel like they don't deserve love. They walk away quietly into empty spaces, trying to close the gaps of the past."

"I read somewhere... how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong... but to feel strong."

"I am reborn. This is my dawn. Real life has just begun.

Deliberate Living: Conscious attention to the basics of life, and a constant attention to your immediate environment and its concerns, example-> A job, a task, a book; anything requiring efficient concentration (Circumstance has no value. It is how one relates to a situation that has value. All true meaning resides in the personal relationship to a phenomenon, what it means to you)."

"If we admit that human life can be ruled by reason, then all possibility of life is destroyed."

"The core of mans' spirit comes from new experiences."

"Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness... give me truth."

"So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."

"Mr. Franz I think careers are a 20th century invention and I don't want one."

"I now walk into the wild."

"I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God bless all!"

--"Into the Wild" Quotes by Jon Krakauer and others...

"It should not be denied. . . that being footloose has always exhilarated us. it is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led west."

--Wallace Stegner, The American West as Living Space

"A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness -- a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild."

--Jack London, White Fang

"I began my adult life with the hypothesis that it could be possible to become a Stone Age native. For over 30 years, I programmed and conditioned myself to this end. In the last 10 of it, I would say I realistically experienced the physical, mental, and emotional reality of the Stone Age. But to borrow a Buddhist phrase, eventually came a setting face-to-face with pure reality. I learned that it is not possible for human beings as we know them to live off the land."

--Gene Rosellini

"It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough , it is your God-given right to have it. . . I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic. I thought climbing the Devils Thumb would fix all that was wrong with my life. In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams. And I lived to tell my tale."

-Jon Krakauer

"Everything had changed suddenly-the tone, the moral climate; you didn't know what to think, whom to listen to. As if all your life you had been led by the hand like a small child and suddenly you were on your own, you had to learn to walk by yourself. There was no one around, neither family nor people whose judgement you respected. At such a time you felt the need of committing yourself to something absolute-life or truth or beauty-of being ruled by it in place of the man-made rules that had been discarded. You needed to surrender to some such ultimate purpose more fully, more unreservedly than you had ever done in the old familiar, peaceful days, in the old life that was now abolished and gone for good."
-Boris Pasternak

"No man ever followed his genius till it misled him. Though the result were bodily weakness, yet perhaps no one can say that the consequences were to be regretted, for these were a life in conformity to higher principles.. . . The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. . . The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched."

--Thoreau, Walden

"For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy."
-G.K. Chesterton

"It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough, it is your God-given right to have it."

"It is hardly unusual for a young man to be drawn to a pursuit considered reckless by his elders; engaging in risky behaviour is a rite of passage in our culture no less than in most others. Danger has always held a certain allure. That in large part is why so many teenagers drive too fast and drink too much and take too many drugs, why it has always been so easy for nations to recruit young men."

"It may, after all, be the bad habit of creative talents to invest in themselves in pathological extremes that yield remarkable insights but no durable way of life for those who cannot translate their psychic wounds into significant art or thought."
-Theodore Roszak

"He soon discovered, however, what Muir and Thoreau already knew: An extended stay in the wilderness inevitably directs one's attention outward as much as inward, and it is impossible to live off the land without discovering both a subtle understanding of, and a strong emotional bond with, that land and all it holds."


"Said he didn't want to see a single person, no airplanes, no sign of civilization. He wanted to prove to himself that he could make it on his own, without anybody else's help."

--Gaylord Stuckey

"Now what is history? It is the centuries of systematic explorations of the riddle of death, with a view to overcoming death. That's why people discover mathematical infinity and electromagnetic waves, that's why they write symphonies. Now you can't advance in this direction without a certain faith. You can't make such discoveries without spiritual equipment. And the basic elements of this equipment are in the Gospels. What are they? To begin with, love of one's neighbour, which is the supreme form of vital energy. Once it fills the heart of a man it has to overflow and spend itself. And then the two basic ideals of modern man-without them he is unthinkable-the idea of free personality and the idea of life as sacrifice"
-Boris Pasternak

"But we little know until tried how much of the uncontrollable there is in us, urging across glaciers and torrents, and up dangerous heights, let the judgement forbid as it may."
-John Muir

"Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. I sat at a table where were rich food and wine in abundance, an obsequious attendance, but sincerity and truth were not; and I went away hungry from the inhospitable board. The hospitality was as cold as the ices."
-Henry David Thoreau

More "Into the Wild" quotes coming soon! Stay posted...