Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality—not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.
A New York Times bestseller
In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life—why did he leave? what did he learn?—as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Informative if not dramatic
I was unfamiliar with the story and so had the benefit of no expectations.
The story is described well, though no conclusions are really attempted.
You'll Enjoy It, Very Different Story and True
Unusual, absorbing story: I've enjoyed the drama of living with virtually nothing, except what he found (I mean stole). But, to me, his choices seemed caprious and puzzling for someone the story continually emphasises was "intelligent," as recounted from first had witnesses of friends, teachers, and many others. Seems to me capable people would plan, to some degree, even if they are wired to be "hermits," and can't wait to leave society. Family, basic survival preparations, finances, and old age would seem relevalnt topics to consider; yet, he just dropped out, seemingly with no forethought. The author emphasises he detested interacting with people and therefore had an overwhelming desire to live inward. Nothing wrong with that, and it made him a fascinting character study, the author did a great job. But, something seems strange about how he just dropped out and became a theif, which he resents and is recounted over and over. Clearly, a technically educated young man could've saved for a few years, bought some land in the middle of nowhere in Maine, aquired basic stuff he knew he needed, and set up shop to live as he desired, probably until social security. If he could hold a job for a year, couldn't he prepare? Anyone would've counseled him to prepare: put all his money in the stock market, let it grow for when he needed supplies, etc. Basically, he should've aquires and preparee for his life so he wouldn't end up so ashamed, imprisoned, and fostered fear on those he continuallly ripped off. I haven't finished the story, but I think he should pay restitution, serve time, and then start over, following a path he should've fostered in the first place. He'd still be an amazing case study after 27 years, the only difference is that he wouldn't be a criminal that could've eaisly caused a tragedy during one of his thousand burglaries. He's probably on the autistic spectrum, but seems like a kind person; I'd enjoy talking with him, as did the author. It's too bad he acted so impulsively. Eating twinkies and reading People is not profound. As the author said he just "lived." Cockroaches and bacteria do that too. Too bad he didn't aquire some books that could've helped him understand how to leverage the amazing biosphere he lived in that would've easily sustained him though starvation and biter winters. I'd like to read a book on how someone with creativity and some modicum of technical intelleigence dropts out for a quarter of century by leveraging the endless information available on every device connected to the Internet; and, most importantly, without terrorizing his community. If he wasn't so consumed with being discovered he could've turned trees into an endless source of useful resources, his alternator in the Subaru he abandoned could've quite easily provided electricity from nearby streams ubiquitous in Maine, even WWII POWs scavenged all the stuff under their captor's eyes to make transceivers that could listen into radio broadcasts. His diary would probably be a treasure. We're all connected, even if we don't want to be around people day to day. Somebody changed his diapers and fed him. He wasn't spontaneously generated from dust. Even hermits owe something. I wish his story was one where he was cast in the middle of the artic and forced to survive. To turn inward is his right, but not to become a criminal that was a menace to all around him. Still, I loved the way the author extrapolated about others. I bought land and plan to do some of my own stuff one it, but I'll follow the local rules and be kind to others. I wish the subject here would've taken a bit more time to plan soas not to have to hide, steal, and live in near starvation and fear. One could literrally, with an Amazon account and devlieries, the Internet, and nothing survive anywere. Maybe you could call it "Google Adams," or "Jerimiah Response in Hex." :) It's sad, as he trapped himself for no reason. I felt he was always a razor's edge from doing something horrible. There are almost eight billiion of us. These are interesting stories on the fringes but nothing else, and he's sorta creepy. Needless to say, he's out of the gene pool.
What an Adventure!
I really enjoyed this book. Some biographies don’t “engage” but this author managed to take the reader on the adventure of Chris Knight from every perspective - I appreciate all the research and respect the author has for the Hermit. Micheal Finkel thank you for your gift of writing - I truly enjoyed this book.