In 1986, Christopher Knight, a 20-year-old Massachusetts native, parked his car at the edge of the woods in Maine and vanished for 27 years. He survived by stealing food and other necessities from camps in the area, leaving so few clues behind that even experienced trackers were mystified. Knight offered no excuses when he was finally apprehended and resisted any attempts at human connections. This is a remarkable true story that expertly explores the history and the mindset of people to whom being at peace means being alone.
— Alden Graves
Everyone has had that thought after a long weekend, or perhaps a month-long getaway to a camp in the woods. The last day rolls around, and you're dreading driving back to civilization. The morning commute, the strangling necktie, the inter-personal drama of everyday is awaiting you when you get back. But what if...you just...didn't? That's exactly what Christopher Knight did in 1986. This is the remarkable story of how he stayed hidden so long, and an attempt to figure out why he gave up everything for solitude.
— Chris Linendoll
Christopher Knight's choice to live a twenty year life of solitude in the woods of Maine was a radical and random decision making for a fascinating read.
"I was never lonely", Knight says.
Michael Finkel delivers all the details through his interviews with Knight in his jail cell.
Read this book if you are one who wanders in search of the marrow of life.
— Nancy Scheemaker
Reigning over his Kingdom of One for 27-years, Christopher Knight was never bored. He stole, he read, he lived in concert and in conflict with the seasons, and when he finally emerged, offered no grand justification or even a reason for his withdrawal from society. He lived. — Mike Hare
March 2017 Indie Next List
“This is the fascinating true story of Christopher Knight, who lived in the Maine woods for 27 years and survived by stealing supplies from vacation cabins while living in extreme conditions to avoid detection. After more than 1,000 burglaries, he was finally caught and partially reintegrated into society. His story is told together with the history of hermits and those who have sought solitude in order to have insight. Chris defies psychological profiling, and it's amazing Finkel was even able to interview him to write this book. This level of solitude would drive most people insane, but for Chris, it seems like an almost pure contemplative state. An excellent read.”
— Todd Miller, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI
Summer 2018 Reading Group Indie Next List
“At 20 years old, Chris Knight drove into the Maine woods as far as his gas tank would take him, got out, threw his keys on the center console, walked into the forest, and lived in solitude for the next 27 years. While the story is largely the reader’s voyeuristic look at how he survived, this book is really an interesting commentary on introversion at its most extreme and its effects on an individual, a family, and society. It’s a fascinating read with references from history, philosophy, and psychology that don’t bog down the intensity of the story, which reads like a novel.”
— Jessica Perez , University Book Store (Mill Creek), Mill Creek, WA
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.
About the Author
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 TheNew York Times Magazine. He lives in western Montana.
"A story that takes the two primary human relationships—to nature and to one another—and deftly upends our assumptions about both. This was a breathtaking book to read and many weeks later I am still thinking about the implications for our society and—by extension—for my own life." —Sebastian Junger
"An absorbing exploration of solitude and man’s eroding relationship with the natural world. Though the ‘stranger’ in the title is Knight, one closes the book with the sense that Knight, like all seers, is the only sane person in a world gone insane—that modern civilization has made us strangers to ourselves." —Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic
"Campfire-friendly and thermos-ready, easily drained in one warm, rummy slug… Raises a variety of profound questions—about the role of solitude, about the value of suffering, about the diversity of human needs." —Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
"Michael Finkel has done something magical with this profound book… [His] investigation runs deep, summoning…the human history of our own attempts to find meaning in a noisy world." —Michael Paterniti
"Chris Knight is an American original... I burned through this haunting tale in one rapt sitting." —John Vaillant