Book Review: Call of the Wild by Jack London

8146139Buck, a sturdy crossbreed canine (half St. Bernard, half Shepherd), 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.


“Old longings nomadic leap,

Chafing at custom’s chain;

Again from its brumal sleep

Wakens the ferine strain.”

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, is a novella about a domesticated dog’s journey to becoming a wild wolf-like animal. The story, though in some parts sad, was magnificent. It features Buck, a half St. Bernard half Scotch shepherd dog. It begins by showing the life that Buck lives in his Californian home; there he is a favorite among the pets, a well-treated and well-respected dog. This seemingly perfect life is ended when one of the servants leads Buck away from the property and sells him. While at first his abduction and the hard times that follow seem a sad reversal of fortunes, in truth they are a stroke of luck. For in the harsh and cold north, Buck lives a more vibrant life than ever before.

The Klondike gold rush has struck and sled-dogs are in want. Though not the typical husky, Buck is a large, strong, and thickly coated dog. For these qualities he is soon bought. Surprisingly, the harsh northern environment suits him well; better even, than his lazy life in sun-kissed California did.  And though the work is arduous and tiring, it brings Buck satisfaction and pride to his life. He works and lives in a truer sense than ever before.

During his journey Buck meets John Thornton, a man who saves Buck from death. Thornton’s actions light in Buck a raw, passionate, and wild love for the man. Buck trusts in Thornton un-doubting and unquestioningly, committing himself to protecting his friend.  This relationship is unlike any Buck has ever had with a human. It burns with a passion new to him; a passion that lasts even after Thornton’s death.

Throughout the book, the longing to surrender to the call of the wild grows in Buck’s heart. By the end, the only reason he has stayed so long is because of John Thornton. But when Thornton is killed, Buck’s last tie to humanity is cut. He sheds the last bit of his domestication and embraces the fierce life of the Canadian wilds. From then on, Buck follows the call of the wild, free, and contented.

He walked to the centre of the open space and listened. It was the call, the many-noted call, sounding more luringly and compellingly than ever before. And as never before, he was ready to obey.”-The Call of the Wild by Jack London


Language/Profanity: This book contains several h*ll, d*mn, and oh my g*d’s.

Violence/Gore/Frightening Scenes: This book is violent and somewhat descriptive. A man chokes a dog several times. A man hits a dog with a club. A dog is attacked and ripped apart. Dog’s engage in violent battles. A couple of animals have their back  or neck broken. Multiple animals have flesh torn, bones broken, and eyeballs are lost. Multiple dogs  A dog rips and bites multiple people’s throats. For children and teens who are sensitive to such things I wouldn’t recommend this book.

Sex/Nudity: Except for perhaps a brief mention of animals mating there is none.