I have often mentioned Into The Wild here as one of the books (and movies) that influenced me the most. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, stop right here. There are spoilers ahead.


Into The Wild was written by Jon Krakauer, first as a long-form piece for Outside magazine, and later expanded into the book. A fair bit of Chris McCandless’ journey after he left home is unknown. Jon did his best to trace Chris’ path using people’s accounts of brief interactions with Chris—people who’d written to him after reading the Outside piece. But one mystery was never adequately solved: What caused Chris’ death. It was some sort of food poisoning from a plant, Jon surmised, and wrote as much in the Outside piece. He corrected it to a different plant in the book but that too was never proven.

In a piece published yesterday at the New Yorker, Jon with the help of one Ronald Hamilton’s research paper solves the mystery as well as it could be  based on the meagre evidence.