There's a 2007 movie about this story. Like in most every case of book versus movie, the book is more in-depth and factual. After a long trek through Alaska, a friend sent me a copy of the book telling me to read it to know the true story.
While I'd found the movie beautiful (Alaska) and inspiring, I found the book sobering for many reasons. First, a hush of reverence hit me. The book contains quotes by Thoreau, Muir, and lesser known naturalists. What sobered me was the unimaginable courage of anyone who can walk into the wilderness alone and with no backup. I've sampled enough motha nature to know I couldn't expect to walk out if I did that.
The book contains stories besides McCandless's, stories about climbing icy peaks and dangerous wild wilderness adventures—some with better endings than others. What struck me was the draw of taking such risks for the reward of communing with a more ancient side of our nature. These stories happened before Instagram and are about adventures taken for quiet, personal reasons. Secondly, that motive is something I miss in stories coming out of the world today. The only glory found in these stories is internal and private. I admire that in a human being.
Any quest taken for purely personal reasons, without happening to have a camera crew on hand, impresses me. For that alone I appreciate Christopher (Alex Supertramp) McCandless's striving, optimism, and determination. I also appreciate the author, Jon Krakauer, and his effort to uncover this story including what happened to Chris McCandless in the end.
It's not likely the truth would have ever been known if not for Krakauer's efforts.
It's definitely worth a read. It's a very centering book. It made me think about what my inner hero needs and it's not Instagram.