The Call of the Wild (Aladdin Classics)

by Jack London

Other authorsGary Paulsen (Foreword)
Paperback, 2003



Local notes

PB Lon




Aladdin (2003), Edition: Reprint, 145 pages. $3.99.


The adventures of an unusual dog, part St. Bernard, part Scotch shepherd, that is forcibly taken to the Klondike gold fields where he eventually becomes the leader of a wolf pack.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

145 p.; 5.13 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Othemts
Believe it or not, I've never read The Call of the Wild (1903) by Jack London, which one would think is a requirement of being a kid in America. And I still haven't read it, although on a whim I listened to my library's audiobook copy, albeit not very carefully. Narrated in an appropriately macho
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fashion by Frank Muller, The Call of the Wild tells the story of Buck a farm dog who is kidnapped from Northern California and forced to pull sleds for for miners in the Yukon gold rush. A cushy pet learns to fight for food and compete for leadership of the pack through fighting and violence, and eventually becomes alpha dog in a wild wolf pack after his owner dies.

Yes friends, before I read this book I knew it had something to do with Alaska and dogs, but I had no idea that the entire book is about a dog from a dog's point of view. Granted, the book is very symbolic in that we humans sit very tenuously on the edge of civilization and brutality and savageness (and London wrote this before the World Wars, the Holocaust, and all the horrors of the 20th century that tested humanity). Still, as a book about dogs it's a very good and accurate look at what may be going on in a dog's mind.
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LibraryThing member theokester
I vaguely remember reading The Call of the Wild while I was in elementary school. I remembered it being a story about a sled dog in the cold wilderness of Alaska. Beyond that, I had forgotten nearly all of the plot and most of the characters and so it was with fairly fresh eyes that I reproached
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this book.

The first thing I noticed that the book was told from a close 3rd person view of the DOG's perspective. I'm sure this point of view is one of the characteristics that made this book initially interesting to critics and educators. Fortunately there is a lot more to the book than a novel or quirky idea of telling the story from a dog's point of view. The perspective change didn't come off as cheesy or manipulative. Rather the narrative choice allowed us to see the story in a new mindset and brush away stereotypical thoughts and ideas. By stripping away our human perspective it leaves us open to seeing ideas and principles in a new light.

Even though we are tied very closely to the dog Buck and his cohorts, the story doesn't become an animated cartoon or other scenario where the animals are humanized and given thoughts or speech. This choice was surprising but as I thought about it I found myself really appreciating the fact that even though the story is being told "through" Buck, we don't find Buck as fully anthropomorphized as you might see in other stories. While we read some of his general thoughts we don't "hear" him thinking or speaking in a human sense. I really liked this distinction as it keeps his animal self a bit more distance and less invaded by human traits seen in something like Animal Farm or other animal fiction tales. Still I can see the argument that we really can't know what an animal is thinking or feeling and so it is still certain that London has placed some human thoughts and motivations onto Buck that may not be wholly natural.

As to the high level plot, we follow the life of Buck the dog from the time he is stolen from his warm, comfortable home in California and taken to the Yukon to be a sled dog during the gold rush. He is confused, angry and belligerent but he also quickly realizes the nature of the situation and the reliance on the humans for food, protection and care. Buck learns which humans to trust and how to behave around them and he also gets to know the other dogs on his team and in his camp. Over time Buck works in a variety of teams and for a variety of different people but the more and more he lives in the cold wilderness, the more he realizes there is something out there calling to him.

I really enjoyed seeing Buck learning to navigate the harsh new world he'd been thrown into. Not only did he have to learn how to manage the cold snow (which he'd never seen before) and the bitter environment but he also had to deal with men and dogs who didn't respect him or care for him in the same way he was used to. He had to learn the ins and outs of a whole new social structure. by dealing with the new pack mentality of fighting for food and learning which dogs were leaders, which were followers and which would stand by neutrally. It also showcases his struggle between domestication or subservience to humans and the fight to return to his primitive nature and animal instincts.

Overall I really enjoyed this story and can see why it's recommended reading for younger readers, especially younger boys. The story is fast paced and has some exciting action sequences. It deals with the life of dogs, adventurers and the unknown wilderness. Beyond its basic appeal to the readers, the book does a good job teaching about different aspects of the world. Even though it focuses on the life of a dog it can teach readers a lot about the nuances of social interaction, dealing with hardship, making difficult choices, loyalty, trust and love. There are some violent scenes that could trouble younger readers, especially animal lovers, but otherwise I see this as a great book for elementary kids or middle graders to read and I think adults can have a lot of fun with this as well.

4 out of 5 stars
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LibraryThing member Andjhostet
The amount of violence and animal cruelty in this book made it a surprisingly difficult read. I was expecting something a bit more easy going.

Despite being a book from the point of view from a dog in the Yukon, it was extremely relatable and applicable. The power struggles were interesting, and
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the struggle between individualism and teamwork. and I loved the commentary of the return of the instincts vs the degradation of Buck's civilized/human side. Even though most of the humans in this book are anything but civilized.
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LibraryThing member Schmerguls
I read this book when I was a freshman in hih school and while I have nor surviving record of what I thought about it when I read it mymemory is that I liked it a lot.
LibraryThing member velvetsnape
I hate this book! Any book where a dog gets abused sucks!
LibraryThing member shulera1
I had never read anything by Jack London before, and felt pretty guilty about that fact, so I picked up The Call of the Wild on audiobook and loved it. The prose was elegant in its simplicity, the pacing was quick and engaging, and I felt Buck wasn't made too human.

Excellent read. I would
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recommend it to anyone.
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LibraryThing member gbill
Jack London was vocal in his socialist views, and it was interesting to think of that while reading about this brutal, dog-eat-dog world of the Klondike Gold Rush, which he himself had been a part of at the tender age of 21. He created some indelible images, such as the dangerous impracticality of
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the inexperienced prospectors that leads to their demise out on a frozen lake, and the novella is a good read. I think he was less successful in anthropomorphizing the dogs, as to me it took away from the grim realism of the setting, and unfortunately we also get a couple of glimpses of London’s racism as well. Overall, I wish it had been fleshed out and had a perspective shift, but as a fable and a window into the past, it has some charm.
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LibraryThing member bkmeredith
This book was okay. That's all.

I was expecting a bit more really. so much happens in the book but it's glossed over pretty quickly each time and then something new comes along. The characters are all fairly vague so you don't really care when they pass out of the story.

It was short but I was more
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than ready for it to end. Not a bad book but just not one I was drawn in by.
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LibraryThing member rayski
Stolen from his home and sold to dog sled outfitters, Buck hears his call and is forever changed…for his better. Makes one think about his personal callings and decisions.
LibraryThing member agage
Jack London's "Call of the Wild" follows the journey of one dog as he laboriously toils in the artic regions of Canada and comes closer and closer to answering his true calling. The main character, a mixed breed dog named Buck, is pulled suddenly away from his life in domesticated society and is
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sold into the strenuous world of dog sledding. He goes through many hard experiences and learns valuable lessons about the primitive world and the "Law of Club and Fang." He often finds himself either at the receiving end of harsh blows from the club or in fights to the death with his fellow teammates as tries to assert his dominance among them. He is continuously passed from owner to owner and suffers through different experiences with each. Each step he takes as sled dog makes him less and less of a domestic animal and more of a "thing of the wild." He begins to acquire some of the traits of his ancestors, such as acting on impulse, while all the while wrestling whether or not to give into the call of the wild.

"The Call of the Wild" relates to our Search for Self theme because the main character, Buck, spends the entire novel taking steps that bring him closer towards reconnecting with his inner "beast." In a way, the novel is similar to "The Alchemist" in that Buck is called towards his destiny in the wild, but must choose whether to answer that call or remain tied to humans and the domestic world. In this book, the idea of "self" mainly equates to the awakening of Buck's ancestors within himself, and his longing to enter into the primitive world. He spends a great deal of time searching in the forest for the source of what drives him there in the first place.

As I began reading the novel, I quickly learned that the book was not what I had expected it to be. It was extremely graphic, to say the least. Each chapter featured some sort of brutality against Buck or the other dogs as they were either beaten mercilessly with a club, starved to death and killed with an ax, or ripped savagely apart by their fellow teammates. I typically hate to read, watch, hear, or see any form of animal abuse (I know, I'm such a girl...) so it was really hard for me to concentrate on the message within the story while all this torture and death was going on. Moving past the graphic parts, however, I thought the novel overall was very compelling and intriguing. I loved the way the story was written and the ability of the narrator to be in Buck's shoes and feel what he was feeling without actually having Buck do any physical talking either mentally or verbally. Since dogs obviously can't talk, this feature made the novel seem more realistic, yet still formulated a strong bond between the reader and Buck. Many of the reviews on this site have said that they read this book in high school as a requirement, and I can see why. It was a simple, quick read that still was chalk full of advanced literary elements and techniques that could be included in a literary analysis chart. I would recommend it to anyone who wouldn't mind reading all the graphic details and who was looking for something to read and finish relatively quickly.
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LibraryThing member SaraH5
I thought that this book was not very good. It was about a dog that was stolen and then was abused and hurt. I would only tell someone to read it if it was the last book on the face of the earth.
LibraryThing member dedeoh
This book is about the life of a wolf. The wolf lives in the wild nature. I like the nature and animals, so I can enjoy to read this book.
LibraryThing member meagandye
I really enjoyed this book. I do not usually enjoy novels that are about animals or are from an animal’s perspective. However, this novel was very interesting and entertaining. It was fun going along with Buck on his adventure and watching him grow and change. Although Buck is a dog, it was
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really easy to relate to him and what he had to go through as a person. Although people do not go through the changes that Buck had to go through, we do go through changes similar to him and must learn how to adapt and grow with them. Dog lovers would definitely love this book, but even those who don’t would most likely like it equally.
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LibraryThing member BellaFoxx
I have had this book for a while and remember not being interested in it enough to read it. Out of shear boredom while waiting for a book from the library, I decided to read this, mainly because of its size. The time was right and I enjoyed it. I know why I bought it in the first place, it is the
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type of book I would read when a teenager. Very interesting book.
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LibraryThing member ElenaEstrada
This classic book is about a young man who is attempting to make his fortune during the Alaskan Gold Rush era. It is a significant literature piece since it is one of the first time an American novel has Nature triumph over Man. Young adult readers will find it this historical fiction is very
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realistic and it provides a window into the lives of minors. The reader may need to look up some key vocabulary words if they are not familiar with extremely cold climates.
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LibraryThing member KendraRenee
Very fast-paced and action-packed. London writes like a natural, and I really enjoyed the story's embodiment of Darwin's ideas/theories. Its eloquent narration of Buck's return to nature appeals to my own instincts, having grown up somewhat removed from typical "civilization" myself ... but I have
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to admit, his emphasis on THE fittest, Buck, feels rather aloof and elitist for me. But in that sense, I suppose London is staying true to the story's central theme: only the fittest DO and CAN survive.
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LibraryThing member GBev2008
I never read this as a youngster though it seemed to be "unofficially required" reading in elementary school. I always assumed it was man and his dog story, but it turned out to be civilized dog returns to wilderness story told from the dog's point of view. And it worked well. Very well written and
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LibraryThing member inglesby
At first when I started to read this book I wasn't very interested in it. It was hard for me to stay connected to read. But, after a while I decided to pick up the book and finish it. It is a very short read, and I'm so glad to have finished it. Buck is a very courageous wolf that has to adapt to
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new surroundings. This is a very heart-felt story that everyone should read.
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LibraryThing member TonyaSB
I drive a lot for work and get bored with listening to the radio after a while. A lot of times I'll listen to audiobooks but they're so expensive that I haven't listened to one in a while. So I was happily surprised when I found White Fang and The Call of the Wild on audio for $4 apiece at Half
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Price Books. If you are not familiar with this store, I am very sorry. It's absolutely wonderful (but not near as wonderful as our own Recycled Books here in Denton - I really love that store).

So I remember reading The Call of the Wild when I was kid and I think I saw a movie on White Fang at some point in my life but they're both very fuzzy and needless to say I had the two confused in my head. Well, maybe not confused but merged is the better word. I had somehow remembered a wild half-wolf dog that was captured and tortured to fight other dogs then rescued and taught be a sled dog who eventually went back to the wild. Yeah. Just remember it had been a long time.

After listening to the two back to back, I believe that The Call of the Wild is my favorite of the two simply because I'm not fond of the narrative in White Fang. The narrator keeps referring to people as "gods" in White Fangs eyes. Also, he sees power as coming from material possessions. This is a human qualification and I have never seen animals give deference to another animal because of possessions. They base power on strength. It is possible with some animals that the leader may have access to more food and other possessions but that is because he/she is ALREADY leader. Those things do not make the leader. So, because the wolf apparently sees materials possessions as power he sees white people as being superior to all others. See where I'm going here? Very irritating.

Ok, here's another problem: inconsistency. I realize these are different stories but they both concern sled dogs at some point. In The Call of the Wild, the sled dogs regard the lead sled dog with deference and treat him as leader in all other aspects of life. In White Fang, the other dogs view the lead dog as running away from them and therefore a coward to be tormented. The lead dog must sit with the people in order to be protected. WHAT??!! I don't know anything about sledding but I know about dogs and this simply doesn't make sense. The Call of the Wild was written first so maybe he discovered something that I don't know about. I tried to find some other reviews to see if there was any mention of this but all I could find were school papers and descriptions of the book. Anyone know where I can find good critiques not written by 6th graders?

Ok, so I didn't completely dislike White Fang. I was irritated by those things but the storyline is very good. I was surprised when I found out it was written after The Call of the Wild because it seems a little more rough. It reads like a first book, where The Call of the Wild seems more polished. In both books I really enjoyed the interplay between the main characters and the other dogs. The dogs seemed more real than the people. This makes complete sense, since the story is told from the point of view of the dog. The other dogs would be the ones that Buck and White Fang knew the best. London accomplishes this very well. I also enjoyed the exchange between Buck and Thornton and White Fang and Scott. Being an animal lover and having dogs all my life, I know the power of the love from an animal. I was impressed by how Scott won over White Fang. His devotion to Scott reminds me of my boyfriend's dog, Skillet, who treats Jeff as if he hung the moon and my dog, Loki, who treats me the same way. Both of these dogs were rescued also. There seems to be something that happens to a dog who is rescued and loved that makes them more devoted than a dog who comes to you as a puppy, like my other dog, Aurora. She obviously loves me and I love her very much but Loki and Skillet become visibly upset just being out of our presence. I was also impressed that Buck remained with Thornton even when he wanted to be free simply because he loved this man. Many people may say this is anthropomorphizing, that animals can't love like this. I say they have never given themselves to an animal enough to feel that love.
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LibraryThing member ague
I rated this book a 9 out of 10. It is a great adventure story about a dog, and thus little or no dialogue takes place.
LibraryThing member nyanyanhoi
This story about the dog that for dog sled.They endure cold and hurt. They grow up strongly like wolf. There are some person abandon their dog if dog get weak. But Thornton desn't.
I think It's very nice story. I feel friendship between human and the dog. Because when Thornton in danger, the dog try
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to help him.
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LibraryThing member Nholt
This is a powerful novel based around the life of a lone wolf- setting out in the world to make his way. I read it when I was 14 and couldn't put it down. Excellent writing, and a superb unique story. I recommend it to anyone who loves a great work of art.
LibraryThing member kayceel
I reread this recently in preparation for a book discussion (which was cancelled, unfortunately), but I found I'd remembered a lot from my first reading back in middle school (oh, roughly 20 yrs ago...).

Buck, a family pet, is stolen during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890s and sold as a sled dog,
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a role to which Buck finds himself taking well, despite the brutality he faces from evil humans to fellow dogs to the brutal cold environment.

London writes from Buck's point-of-view, and in doing so, emphasizes action and instinct, rather than introspective thought, making this story a rough read but fascinating.

Recommended for ages 12 and up (younger kids may have trouble with London's writing and the vernacular of some of the human characters).
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LibraryThing member BrianDewey
London, Jack. Call of the Wild. Bantam Books, New York, 1981. Classic tale of life during the Klondike gold rush.
LibraryThing member MCov
The Call of the Wild takes place in the late 1890’s and it temporarily takes place in California but moves onto Alaska and the Klondike Region of Canada. The theme of this novel is the laws of the wilderness and the struggle for mastery. In this novel, Buck is the main character. He is a dominant
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dog who lives in his own world and he lives by his own rules till he gets beaten by his owners. After being beaten by his masters, he loves his last master, John Thornton.
In The Call of the Wild, I like how Buck is able to connect with his final master and treats him better than his others at first sight. In addition, I like how Buck returned a favor to his owner after his owner saved his life from Hal, who is an American Gold Seeker. I also like how Buck, being a powerful dog, is able to work as a team with other dogs to carry loads through the snow. I truly like Buck and John Thornton’s relationship in this book, how it really shows how dogs are mans best friend.
In addition to Buck and John Thornton’s relationship, I like how they watch out for each other and how they can work together to accomplish challenges, such as their adventures through the snow carrying loads of supplies. They also work together to find supplies they need to survive and fight off predators. I really liked when Buck came back to camp, found out his master died from a pack of Indians and decided to attack the Indians showing how much he loved his master.
After this severe event, Buck moves on to become the leader of a pack of wolves inspiring fear in the Indians that killed his master and every year he returns to the place where John Thornton, his master died. Buck does this to think about his master and the great things they have done together.
In The Call of the Wild, I really dislike how Buck has to deal with so many bad people and losing most of his friends. Curly, one of Bucks friends he met on a boat heading towards Canada. As she was leaving the boat, Buck watched her die from a pack of huskies. Buck also had to watch one of his teammates get shot by his owner only because he was too sick to carry the supplies through the snow with the other dogs. I also dislike how Buck is beaten and starved for most of this book by his masters. Buck is a very powerful dog but I believe having to deal with his masters could have been taken differently other than risking his life. I believe his masters should have given him time to calm himself down instead of beating him into the way they wanted him to behave. Also this novel could have had more situations where Buck was given a chance to mess around or have fun like most dogs do.
In conclusion, I believe that Buck started out living an extremely tough life but finished with a group of friends and family that will always be there for him.
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