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The Stranger in the Woods

Cover: 'The Stranger in the Woods'

Staff Review: "The Stranger in the Woods" by Michael Finkel


For 27 years, Christopher Knight lived in complete solitude in the woods of Maine, becoming known by locals as the North Pond Hermit. Knight only encountered a handful of wayward hikers in his quarter century in isolation, tucked away in a large camp that he made into his own makeshift home. Year after year, Knight survived on his own, meticulously scavenging from others' campsites and burglarizing unoccupied vacation cabins for food, toiletries and survival essentials like batteries, flashlights and clothing more than 1,000 times.

This enthralling book opens with Knight's eventual apprehension by police in 2013 and gives a detailed account of how he lived during his years in the woods. Such information is supplied by Knight himself through various interviews he did with the author while in jail awaiting trial. The author also interviewed several of the folks who had been burglarized by Knight over the years, as well as local law enforcement and some of Knight’s former teachers and classmates.

The Stranger in the Woods is riveting most when it focuses on Knight, his survival skills, and ventures into his psyche. It’s less interesting when it delves into other forms of isolation – from religious monks to prisoners in solitary confinement – and hypothesizes why Knight exiled himself into the wild in the first place. Despite this, the book tells the story of an incredibly unique and resourceful individual and is one worth reading.

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, biography

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