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The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel
Reviewed by Clayton Nottleman
I recently finished The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel, which chronicles the life of Christopher Knight during the 28 years he lived alone in the woods of Maine. The book is fairly short at about 200 pages; and it had been expanded from a long article Finkel had written for GQ magazine. I had read the article when it was originally published in 2014 and I was about 75 pages into the book when I realized why the story was so familiar. Finkel did an impressive job expanding the story and including the history of “hermits” in various cultures throughout history. He also gave a sociological interpretation and medical interpretation of Knight’s behavior (lifestyle) based on numerous books he had read and interviews he conducted with doctors, police officers, neighbors, and Knight, himself.
In order to survive, Knight repeatedly broke into the vacation homes of the families who lived within a few-mile radius of his campsite. I found the parts of the book where he interviews the families to be especially interesting as they shared the lengths they had gone to to try to catch him and also the psychological effects these break-ins had on generations of family members. If you aren’t interested in the book itself, but are interested in the original article, it can be found here: http://www.gq.com/story/the-last-true-hermit