John Krakauer’s “Into the Wild” tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who abandoned conventional society to spend time in nature. McCandless traveled around the United States for two years in the early 1990s, only to die in Alaska of starvation.
Originally growing up in suburban Virginia, McCandless graduated from Emory University in 1990 with strong grades. Influenced by the writings of Jack London and Henry David Thoreau, McCandless chose not to enter conventional society after graduation, giving away a substantial amount of money to relief organization Oxfam and severing all ties with his family.
McCandless travelled throughout the Western United States in a used Datsun before abandoning the car in a flood. Spending time in Texas, California, Oregon, Washington and Mexico, he travelled by foot and by hitchhiking. By April 1992, McCandless made it to Alaska’s Stampede Trail, where he survived in the wilderness by hunting and foraging. His journals report that he entered the trail with just a rifle, ammunition, a camera, some rice and a few books.
Camping in an abandoned bus, McCandless attempted to leave the area in July but was trapped by a river swollen from snow melt. Krakauer speculates that McCandless may have mistakenly eaten wild sweet pea seeds, which are poisonous. McCandless died in August 1992, presumably of starvation, and his body was found a month later by hikers.
The book chronicles McCandless's journey through his diaries, postcards and photography. It also includes reflections by Krakauer on his own life and interviews with McCandless's family and friends. The book was released in 2006 to critical acclaim.