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The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Contributor(s): Finkel, Michael (Author)

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ISBN: 1101911530     ISBN-13: 9781101911532
Publisher: Vintage
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: January 2018

Annotation: A National Geographic Best Book of the Year 

National Bestseller

Many people dream of escaping modern life. Most will never act on it&;but in 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight did just that when he left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not have a conversation with another person for the next twenty-seven years.
Drawing on extensive interviews with Knight himself, journalist Michael Finkel shows how Knight lived in a tent in a secluded encampment, developing ingenious ways to store provisions and stave off frostbite during the winters. A former alarm technician, he stealthily broke into nearby cottages for food, books, and supplies, taking only what he needed but sowing unease in a community plagued by his mysterious burglaries. Since returning to the world, he has faced unique challenges&;and compelled us to reexamine our assumptions about what makes a good life. By turns riveting and thought-provoking, The Stranger in the Woods gives us a deeply moving portrait of a man determined to live his own way.
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Biography & Autobiography | Adventurers & Explorers
- Psychology | Personality
- Sports & Recreation | Camping
Dewey: B
Physical Information: 0.6" H x 5.2" W x 7.9" (0.50 lbs) 224 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): Michael Finkel is the author of True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa, which was adapted into a 2015 major motion picture. He has written for National Geographic, GQ, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine. He lives in western Montana.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2016 October #4)
On a summer morning in 1986, 20-year-old Christopher Knight didn't show up for his job installing alarm systems in Waltham, Mass. Nearly three decades passed before he reappeared and revealed he'd spent most of that time camping in the woods of central Maine. In this fascinating account of Knight's renunciation of humanity, Finkel (True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa) struggles to comprehend the impulses that led Knight to court death by hypothermia even though his family home was less than an hour's drive away. To survive, Knight relentlessly pilfered supplies from vacation houses around his campsite, infuriating and terrifying homeowners and baffling a generation of cops. Finally apprehended during one of his raids, the "Hermit of North Pond" battled depression and contemplated suicide as he was forced to rejoin society. Drawn by the details that followed Knight's arrest, Finkel reached out to him through letters and visits. Despite frequent rebuffs, enough of a relationship developed for Finkel to broadly outline Knight's wilderness solitude. A fellow outdoorsman, Finkel places Knight in the long tradition of hermits, a category that has been admired and distrusted over the centuries. Yet even as Finkel immerses himself in Knight's life—researching hermits, consulting psychologists, even camping at Knight's hideaway—his subject's motivations remain obscure, leaving the book somehow incomplete. The book doesn't penetrate the mystery of Knight's renunciation, but the questions it raises remain deeply compelling. (Mar.) Copyright 2016 Publisher Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2017 June)

Christopher Knight lived for 27 years in the woods of Maine with almost no human interaction, surviving by pilfering food and supplies. Opening with the account of how Knight was captured by an ex-marine after stealing from a local camp, this book begins on an exciting note, though the pace slows as Finkel weaves in research about the science of isolation along with an exploration of the philosophical and nature writing that might lead someone like Knight to seek seclusion. An extension of Finkel's 2014 GQ article "The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit," this title goes into detail about the lengths to which Knight went in order to stay alive. Teens who are drawn to survival stories will appreciate reading about the harsh conditions Knight faced, including freezing weather, isolation, and lack of food, and the problem-solving skills on which he had to rely. This introspective look at the hermit life throughout time focuses on the ethical issues involved in one man's attempt to break free of society. VERDICT Hand this volume to mature and thoughtful teens who love Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild or are interested in philosophy, science, or nature.—Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.
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