The Call of the Wild

ISBN: 0618003738
ISBN 13: 9780618003730
By: Jack London

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About this book

Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepard), is a dog born to luxury and raised in a sheltered Californian home. But then he is kidnapped and sold to be a sled dog in the harsh and frozen Yukon Territory. Passed from master to master, Buck embarks on an extraordinary journey, proving his unbreakable spirit...First published in 1903, "The Call of the Wild" is regarded as Jack London's masterpiece. Based on London's experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, "The Call of the Wild" is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.

Reader's Thoughts

Lynne King

“Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the first time. This he had never experienced at Judge Miller’s down in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley. With the Judge’s sons, hunting and tramping, it had been a working partnership; with the Judge’s grandsons, a sort of pompous guardianship; and with the Judge himself, a stately and dignified friendship. But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse.” In reading this book, I had my long standing belief confirmed that one cannot know how much one has loved another human being until the latter has been removed for whatever reason and that also applies to non-humans. And we are talking about a dog here:“From his St Bernard father he had inherited size and weight, but it was his shepherd mother who had given shape to that size and weight. His muzzle was the long wolf muzzle, save it was larger than the muzzle of any wolf; and his head, somewhat broader, was the wolf head on a massive scale.”Buck’s cosy lifestyle was to change forever in the fall of 1897, when the lure of gold with the Klondike strike had men rushing to northern Canada to take advantage of what they perceived to be instant wealth. The one necessity to achieve this was having sled dogs and consequently Buck was taken, subjected to very rough treatment, and ended up as one of them.But Buck is no ordinary dog. He soon realizes that he has to fight for survival in his new unwanted lifestyle both with living on the meagre food rations he was given and the aggressivity of his fellow dogs. Nevertheless, this is a great dog and he soon becomes a legend in these northern lands with his prowess of pulling heavy loads and his sheer excellence as a sled dog. He even won his owners $1,600 (rather a lot of money then) when he pulled a load of 1,000 lbs a distance of 100 metres.His primordial instincts, however, gradually come to the fore and I have no doubt that when he met the first wolf and spent a day with him, that he would have reverted to type but then choice unexpectedly had come into the equation with that one word “love” and that came in the form of John Thornton who had saved his life. And as a result with that choice there are two roads that he can follow and so what does Buck decide to do?I don’t know why this book has had such a dramatic effect on me. Perhaps the era had something to do with it, the immense lands of Canada, and Buck’s continual fight for survival. How could one not admire and love this incredible dog? But imperceptibly he is changing too:“The blood longing became stronger than ever before. He was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the strong survived.” And finally the following poem states it all with ancestry, instincts, and history:It is taken from "Atavism," a poem by John Myers O’Hara:“Old longings nomadic leap,Chafing at custom’s chain;Apart from its brumal sleepWakes the ferine strain”And Buck was indeed awakened.I can never be more grateful that I came across this children’s classic. Where was I in my youth that I was never told about this spellbinding book? It’s not long but I actually browsed through the book again after finishing it. I didn’t want to let go of those incredibly moving words by Jack London.


i am a dog obsessive. i'm nuts. dogs are my moby dick. they're my opera-house in the jungle. if i had a genie in a bottle, i'd wish away all human life (including my own) so dogs could take over the world. wait. that'd be wish number two. number one would be that i had an olympic sized swimming pool filled with dogs and i could do a few laps. then i'd erase humanity. seriously. my dog is the coolest guy i've ever met, my best friend, and love of my life. if it sounds weird: piss off. i don't wanna know you. so, i kinda can't not like this book. and it's weird that i've never read it. well, today i did. picked up this new puffin edition and polished it off in one sitting. good goddamn is this a great book. as an adventure story it's just incredible and then all that regression shit? wow. Buck, the main dog, goes back through his bloodline, down his ancestry... where he watches a primitive man, all hunched over and furry, peer out the mouth of a cave into the cold blackness of the UNKNOWN. there's some seriously badass jungian shit going on here. spooky and ineffable and just fucking gorgeous. masterpiece, baby, masterpiece. and check this passage in which Buck and the other dogs chase a rabbit through a snowy, moonlit forest: "All that stirring of old instincts which at stated periods drives men out from the sounding cities to forest and plains to kill things by chemically propelled leaden pellets, the blood lust, the joy to kill - all this was Buck's, only it was infinitely more intimate. He was ranging at the head of the pack, running the wild thing down, the living meat, to kill with his own teeth and wash his muzzle to the eyes in warm blood. There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad on a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight. He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time. he was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars and over the face of dead matter that did not move."yes.


Definitely not just for young adults. I really enjoyed this book.

Greg Linster

Call of the Wild is considered by many to be Jack London's greatest novel. It is a grim and harsh depiction of the bitter realities of life during the days of the Alaska Gold Rush. The story is about a dog named Buck who is kidnapped from a pleasant life in Santa Clara, CA. He was abused and beaten to the point of almost dying, but a man named John Thornton ultimately saves him. Buck is used as a sled dog and quickly learns the laws of nature that define his new existence. The competition amongst the other sled dogs is ruthless, violent, and fierce, but Buck emerges as an alpha male. Buck stayed faithful to his new master until his death. In the end, Buck answered "the call of the wild" to join a pack of wolves and escape man's world.There are, of course, many parallels that can be drawn to the modern human existence. For Buck, the choice was between living in man's world or answering the beckoning call of nature. Humans face the same struggles in modern life too. For instance, is it better to live a corporate soul sucking drone-like existence or answer the call of the wild to be free?


While reading this, there were four things bubbling in the chambers of my mind:(1) Charles Darwin’s idea of “survival of the fittest”(2) Nature vs. Nurture in psychology(3) The vampire movie I have seen.(4) Timbuktu, the dog in the novel of Paul AusterBuck used to be accustomed to living in an uncivilized place where he has no idea of how horrible life is, for his masters are indifferent to him. Unfortunately, exposed to the law of club and fang, he needs intestinal fortitude, ignoring his ‘pure conscience “; rather, he will learn to follow his “primordial instinct” to fight off the biological motives. Apparently, Jack London anthropomorphized the dogs to illustrate how a man’s moral is developed. In fact, I learned that Jack London was primarily influenced by Charles Darwin‘s The Origin of the Species; and John Milton's Paradise Lost. By virtue of these books, he may have had an idea of how to put his experiences in Alaska into such an unforgettable classic.Since I have background in psychology, the ad infinitum debate about whether a man is developed by Nature or Nurture appears to be one of the themes of this novel. In the story, Jack London may have wanted to expound that a man, in the image of Buck, is built; that a man could be a blank sheet; that a man could be barbarian in origin. Buck in the story is dictated by his primordial instinct. In fact, London seemed to have used symbols to represent two kinds of dogs: uncivilized hard dogs in the North and civilized soft dogs in the South.Absurdly speaking , the book reminded me of vampires, especially the Filipino movie” VAMPIRA” . In the movie, when the moon is full, the protagonist played by a famous actress transforms into a vampire whether she likes it or not. Her vampire instinct to eat flesh of animals including human is unruly. In the novel, the moon could be the symbol of his primordial instinct. Since Buck has been civilized by the virtue of his new master’s genuine love, there are times, however, that the “call of the wild” still specters him. Once to be tempted, he will overcome it for the good memories of his new master. Unfortunately, at the end, Buck backslides to his past when his “civilized community “is “annihilated’ by a group of Yaheets. Does it mean that under dystopic or disintegrated circumstances, a man could forget his feelings in the name of survival? Gee, this classic could be an interesting term paper in the context of other fields of studies. I believe that Jack London missed something.kkk Nevertheless, I appreciated it a lot. ^^Literally, the novel must deal with what a world of dogs is like, for us to come to the realization that dogs are not far different from us. They should be treated like a human being. (Uh-oh! I believe some readers have had ideas of dog life, so I recommend TIMBUKTU by Paul Auster. )In the Philippines, we have the laws on animal rights- which particularly put a great deal of stress on domesticated animals- strictly prohibit any body to make bad use of them. On the other hand, I guess in Alaska at that time may not have been aware of this reality, for dogs were used for sledding. But what struck me at the end is that LOVE is such a powerful element to make a big difference to our lives. ^___________^

Janie Johnson

I first bought the book The Unabridged Jack London, because he had been a favorite of my Mom's, and I wanted to see what he was like. Well I fianlly got around to reading The Call of the Wild, and I gotta question what my mom saw in this book. It was such raw, horrifying violence nearly from begining to end. I could not understand the infactuation in the book or in Jack London. It was pretty cool though that the book was wrote through the eyes of a dog called Buck. But it also made for a boring long rambling read because of the lack of speaking in the book. I felt so disheartened at the beginning of the book because of what Buck went through, and then repulsed by what Buck had become. Needless to say I dont believe I will be reading anymore Jack London. It's not that he is a bad Author because he is one of the greats. But because this is really not the genre for me.

Loren Rines

Call of the Wild is a great book that I really enjoyed reading. It was exciting, scary, sad and inspiring in places. The book is about a dog named Buck that was taken from his comfortable ranch in California and forced to live the life of a sled dog in the harsh Alaskan Yukon. It was exciting to read how Buck learned to handle his change in scenery and take charge of his life.Buck had a really hard and physically punishing time adjusting to his new life and had many dangerous and almost deadly encounters learning how to survive. The other sled dogs were dominant and aggressive and did not like Buck because he was big and very capable of the job of sled dog. When I read the things that Buck went through I felt sad for him and wished he could beat the mean and aggressive nature of his fellow dogs. Buck does that and more.The miners and masters that Buck meets in this cold and hard world are just as harsh and interesting as his many encounters with the other sled dogs. Buck was careful, scared, and always aware that his life was in danger. The men were there to break his spirit and the dogs to put him in his place, a place of unimportance. While this is happening, Buck learns quickly how to survive and gets in touch with his wild side. He learns to be tough, smart, and unfeeling watching numerous encounters with the men and deadly fights between the sled dogs.Buck totally transformed and with each step he explored back in his roots. He found his tough and spirited side that allowed him to take control of his situation. Buck gets a new master, John Thornton, and after many difficult experiences between them where they save each others life, a new, deep respect develops between them. Love and respect was again a big part of Bucks life after a long period of being lost and taken advantage of. Buck becomes a new, tough spirited dog with a new purpose.Buck over powers and sometimes kills other sled dogs and gains superiority. He spends quality time with his trusted master, but he can’t escape the calling he feels. He eventually joins up with a local wolf pack, becoming their leader and answering the call of the wild that has been eating at him. He loses his master in a rogue Indian attack that only confirms his move to his ancestors. After killing many Indians he realizes he is also dominant over humans and this takes his thinking full circle. He realizes he must answer the call of the wild and lead the life of his ancestors. He leaves civilization and humans behind forever. This was a powerful decision and an inspiring way to end the story. This was a really a great book that I recommend sincerely to my friends and anyone who likes an inspiring and uplifting story. Jack London does a great job drawing you into his frozen world.

Moses Kilolo

Bucks story is a beautiful, multilayered tale that shows the basic plot of the journey towards the call of destiny. There is what we are all meant to be, and if we but hear the call, then our duty is but to obey. Like happened to Buck, the dog, there is ever a process, ranging from our familiar comforts to our deepest defeats, to our highest achievements – all of which we must transcended in our journey to being free and self accomplished. Though Buck was comfortable in the Judge’s backyard, playing with the judge’s sons, his world was crushed when he is sold off. From thence begins his journey – where he learns what he is, what can be, the possibilities, - of survival.The voice comes, but challenges prevent him from heeding it. First his position as a sledge dog, then the hardship of training, the preliminary victories, the love of man - - found, and lost) and his own doubts. But finally he lets go, and now Buck is head of the pack of wolves, and his exploits are well known. Just as the depth of his own freedom, and the found power.The writing is good, the book is short, and the lesson profound. --> the story of every man, hear the voice – obey the call, and be everything you can be.

Duffy Pratt

I read this when I was a kid, and then again a few years ago, and this makes my third reading. That's quite a bit for a book that I have many problems with. The main problem I have is that I always get the feeling that London let his prejudices get in the way of his observations. As far as I know, this book and White Fang pretty much invented the genre of books being told from the animal's point of view. But it's not really the animal point of view we get. Rather, we get the viewpoint of the animal if the animal had a thoroughgoing belief in social darwinism.Buck moves from one human society to another. He starts with an indifferent and benign owner. From there, he gets introduced to a more "primitive" element when taken and sold up north as a sled dog. Here, he gets broken by whip and club, and learns the law of kill or be killed. From there, he moves on to a couple of sled teams, perfects his position according to that law. Then, he gets transferred to an even more cruel, and incompetent owner, one bound to kill the sled team and the people around him. Rescued, he falls in love with his next owner, and then he faces the call and becomes completely wild.A few problems: the law of wolf packs and dog sled teams has very little to do with what London describes here. Wolves don't kill each other. Dogs don't wait until the end of the day to then correct other dogs about errors they made on the sled team. The system of punishment that London ascribes as primitive law is very much a creation of people's misunderstanding. I don't doubt that London actually saw abused dogs in Alaska, but he also mis-interpreted what he saw.Another problem is the whole idea of Buck returning to the wild. The dog is a St. Bernard mix. It's virtually impossible to imagine this kind of dog becoming part of a wolf pack. He's basically a different species. Long ago, some wolves were brave enough to scavenge around nomadic people, and to stay in the vicinity when the nomads got close (kind of like pigeons in a park). The ones that fled stayed wolves. The ones with the genetic makeup to allow them to stay near man became, over time, dogs. Dogs are genetically different than wolves, and the difference comes from a fundamental difference in the fight or flight response. It is just as impossible to make an individual dog wild as it is to tame an animal caught in the wild. The idea is fanciful, but it does not happen.From a narrative point of view, it makes no sense to me that Buck's strongest calls to the wild happen when he has finally found an owner that he truly loves. If anything, from both a natural and a narrative point of view, this relationship would strengthen Buck's ties to men, not weaken them.I've got alot of affection for this book, and like White Fang even more, but for all it's grit, I still get the feeling that this book is closer to Disney than it is to true observation. It owes more to London's imagination of what a dog might think then it does to any serious study of dogs.


** spoiler alert ** Buck did not read the newspapers...of course he didn't. he was too busy being a badass. chasing down a big ass moose. saving john thornton's life. killing the indians who killed john thornton. running with the other wolves. winning bets. bitch slapping other dogs who got out of line. buck's first snow experience..."At the first step upon the cold surface, Buck's feet sank into a white mushy something very like mud. He sprang back with a snort. More of this white stuff was falling through the air. He shook himself, but more of it fell upon him. He sniffed it curiously, then licked some up on his tongue. It bit like fire, and the next instant was gone. This puzzled him He tried it again, with the same result. The onlookers laughed uproariously, and he felt ashamed, he knew not why, for it was his first snow."buck's first theft..."This first theft marked Buck as fit to survive in the hostile Northland enviroment. It marked his adaptability, his capacity to adjust himself to changing conditions, the lack of which would have meant swift and terrible death. It marked further decay or going to pieces of his moral nature, a vain thing and a handicap in the ruthless struggle for existence. It was all well enough in the Southland, under the law of love and fellowship, to respect the private property and personal feeling; but in the Northland, under the law of club and fang, who so took such things into account was a fool, and in so far as he observed them he would fail to prosper."just before buck's first kill..."All that stirring of old instincts which at stated periods drives men out from the sounding cities to forest and plain to kill things by chemically propelled leaden pellets, the blood lust, the joy to kill - all this way Buck's, only it was infinitely more intimate. He was ranging at the head of the pack, running the wild thing down, the living meat, to kill with his own teeth and wash his muzzle to the eyes in warm blood."after winning a bet for his best bud john thornton..."'Gad, sir! Gad sir!' spluttered the Skookum Beach king. 'I'll give a thousand for him, sir, a thousand, sir - twelve hundred, sir.' Thornton rose to his feet. His eyes were wet. The tears were streaming frankly down his cheeks. 'Sir,' he said to the Skookum Beach king, 'no sir. You can go to hell, sir. It's the best I can do for you, sir.'as the man who recommended the book to me would say, "yee-haw." this book fucking rocked.'vaya con los lobos!'

Viji Sarath (Bookish endeavors)

Aah.! If Buck was a man,he would have been one of the most eligible bachelors in literature.. The journey of a dog to his destiny,which in this case is a walk back to the past,is what's this story is about. It could be interpreted as the story of a man-his journey towards his destiny. There are many things in this story that might make you think that way. Like -the call of the future(in this case the call of the wild) -the recognition or remembering of the power within(Buck recognizing the wildness within him) -the qualities required of one who is in true pursuit of his destiny(faith in himself,ability to hold on to something,meticulous planning,leadership).The pride and power of Buck is so nicely described that you can see the picture of the formidable and ferocious dog. It was a wonderful story,rich in imagination and original in presentation. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.PS: In the beginning I was thinking that may be this story is like 'Animal farm',seeing the groups of dogs like the group of pigs in that story. When the story progressed,I understood how stupid I was. :)


Invalid reasons for not reading this:1.) Hundred-year-old-books are written in an inaccessible style.---The Call of the Wild has very accessible style, with beautiful prose and imagery---beautiful prose and imagery that's light and very accessible.2.) I don't like dog stories.---This is a Buck story. Sure, he's a dog, but this isn't a dog story. It's Buck's story. And he's a complex, sympathetic character. He just happens to be a dog.3.) What do I care about the Klondike gold rush?---Don't matter. The story's about Buck, I said. The gold rush is just the outline, background.4.) Dog stories always end with the dog dying. And no, thank you, dammit. I'm still getting over Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows, and I read those almost thirty years ago.---Spoiler alert: the dog doesn't die.I've spent the last day kicking myself for never having read Jack London before. Especially for not having read this until this point in my life. Go, Buck!


The Call of The Wild by Jack London entails the gripping tale of a dog who slowly learns about the harshness of nature. Slowly developing from an innocent pampered dog to a brutal leader with a new found Darwinian view of survival of the fittest. London's very effective way of writing the point of view of buck really allowed the environment's around him to come to life and allowed the reader to really feel it. Along with the environment, London really brought out the tension in certain situations. A good example of both of these is when Buck and Spitz get into their final showdown "day mankind and the claims of mankind slipped farther from him. Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire, and to plunge into the forest. . . . But as often as he gained the soft unbroken earth and the green shade, the love of John Thornton drew him back to the fire again." (London 45). You can feel the tension and importance of this moment with a good idea the environment they're in. He uses a lot of metaphors and similes to describe the situation almost poetically. Claudine previously commented that London aced the point of view and I couldn't agree more. London was spot on making the reader feel like they could see what was going on. I also agree about developing new ideas of what's going on in our world. For anyone who likes good, gripping fictional stories then this is definately the book to read no matter the age. I recommend for everyone to read this at one point and hopefully get new viewpoints also.


I loved this book from start to finish. For about three seconds when it began, as I realised it was being told from the perspective of a dog, I baulked. I don't do books or movies with talking animals. However I realised quickly that the animal didn't talk. The author explained the motivations of the protaganist without ever actually giving the animal speech. This alone was amazing and made me love it.The book follows a dog that is taken from its cushy plantation life and made to work as a sled dog in Alaska. That is all I am going to say. This is a good book, and I refuse to spoil a good book by telling you bits and pieces about what happens. Just go read it.One of the things I have enjoyed most about this book is retelling it to my 2yo daughter as she goes to sleep. I draw on her back and tell her the story.Read this if you like "The old man and the sea" (which I loved too).(Quick review as I am tired and need to go to bed... go read one of the thousand other five-star reviews that will probably express my adoration better).ETA:I bought a hard copy of the book so we could read it as a bedtime story to the girls. Something felt off as I listened along, I couldn't put my finger on it until I looked closely at the copy... an abridged version.Allow me to rant about abridged versions. They have no purpose. It would be better to read half of the unabridged version, and gain everything that the author is offering then to read a dumbed down version which serves no purpose.I offer the opening paragraphs to emphasis my point.UnabridgedBuck did not read the newspapers or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself but for every tidewater dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego. Because men, groping in the Artic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats to protect them from the frost.AbridgedBuck was Judge Wheeler's favourite pet dog. He had just been fed and was lying at his master's feet, in front of a blazing fire. How was Buck to know that his easy life in California was about to come to a sudden and violent end? In a few moments time, he would begin a wild, dangerous and extraordinary journey that would change his life forever. Buck was staring into the flames, his eyes blinking shut now and again as he started to doze. Never had a dog been so happy with his lot. Judge Wheeler was asleep in his armchair with a newspaper on his lap. Come on!!!! The first is a completely different writing style, Buck is strong and independent and it is the whole world that is of interest. In the second we have a pet dog. The point of reading classics is to experience what the author has to offer. Imagine if someone did this to the Old Man and the Sea...An old guy has caught much in a while. A local boy brings him food and bait.... Surely you would rather read my simplistic prose than Ernest Hemingway... He is soooo wordy and it would take so long.


Savage, compelling, manipulative, simple, poetic...These adjectives all apply, but they do not save the book from its negative traits. Jack London was a natural storyteller, but he was also a racist and a sexist. I thought it was my imagination at first, but after some research I realize that those accusations are common. I mention this fact because it distracted me from the story. The imagery is rich, the spirituality moving, and by the end, I was completely enthralled by Buck's adventures. It's just a bumpy ride along the way.

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