The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

Published November 2, 2021

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

Book info

  • Title The Stranger in the Woods
  • Author Michael Finkel
  • Year 2017
  • Genre Non-fiction

In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. He would not speak to another human being until three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food. Christopher survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water in order to avoid freezing to death in his tent during the harsh Maine winters. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material and other provisions, taking only what he needed. In the process, he unwittingly terrified a community unable to solve the mysterious burglaries. Myths abounded amongst the locals eager to find this legendary hermit.


This is a very well-written book with some great research and reporting along the way, but it left me with very mixed feelings. This guy effectively gave up on modern life and went to live in the woods for several decades, but without the provisions to be able to do so, he resorted to stealing. I supported his desire to be left alone and was worried about how he would cope once arrested, but equally, it did seem like he was terrorising the nearby neighbourhood - especially where some would happily leave out food or other necessities rather than find themselves robbed on occasion. Difficult one.

Rating: 4 / 5

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