Who Was Chris Mccandless Essay

When Clausen and Treadwell completed their analysis of wild-potato seeds, though, they found no trace of swainsonine or any other alkaloids. Clausen explained to in 2007, after also testing the seeds for non-alkaloid compounds. I began sifting through the scientific literature, searching for information that would allow me to reconcile Mc Candless’s adamantly unambiguous statement with Clausen’s equally unambiguous test results.Fast forward to a couple of months ago, when I stumbled upon Ronald Hamilton’s paper “The Silent Fire: ODAP and the Death of Christopher Mc Candless,” which Hamilton had posted on a Web site that publishes essays and papers about Mc Candless.In the book, Kari explicitly warns that because wild sweet pea closely resembles wild potato, and “is reported to be poisonous, care should be taken to identify them accurately before attempting to use the wild potato as food.” And then she explains precisely how to distinguish the two plants from one another.

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According to my hypothesis, a toxic alkaloid in the seeds weakened Mc Candless to such a degree that it became impossible for him to hike out to the highway or hunt effectively, leading to starvation.

Because is described as a nontoxic species in both the scientific literature and in popular books about edible plants, my conjecture was met with no small amount of derision, especially in Alaska.

Most of these detractors believe my book glorifies a senseless death.

As the columnist Craig Medred wrote in the Anchorage “Into the Wild” is a misrepresentation, a sham, a fraud.

In “Into the Wild,” the book I wrote about Mc Candless’s brief, confounding life, I came to a different conclusion.

I speculated that he had inadvertently poisoned himself by eating seeds from a plant commonly called wild potato, known to botanists as .

So I sent some Shortly before my book was published, Clausen and one of his graduate students, Edward Treadwell, conducted a preliminary test that indicated the seeds contained an unidentified alkaloid. Clausen was an esteemed organic chemist, and the results of his analysis seemed irrefutable.

Making a rash intuitive leap, in the first edition of “Into the Wild,” published in January, 1996, I wrote that this alkaloid was perhaps swainsonine, a toxic agent known to inhibit glycoprotein metabolism in animals, leading to starvation. But Mc Candless’s July 30th journal entry couldn’t have been more explicit: “” His certainty about the cause of his failing health gnawed at me.

After his body was flown out of the wilderness, an autopsy determined that it weighed sixty-seven pounds and lacked discernible subcutaneous fat.

The probable cause of death, according to the coroner’s report, was starvation.


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