Author Spotlight: Reading through all of Jack London's Books and Stories

Author Spotlight: Jack London

Goal: Reading all of Jack London's books and Stories and reviewing many of them

I set out to read all through Jack London’s complete bibliography. I started in order of publication. And I will in many of the books and stories review them below. I really don’t know what inspired me to do this other than my love and fondness of reading as a boy White Fang and The Call of the Wild. I had not read these two books in over 30 years and so I was looking forward to the re-adventure. First and foremost, Jack London is one of the greatest descriptive writers that ever graced the world of written word. His magical adventures bring out the breathtaking beauty of the world, landscapes, trees, water and man-made realities.

There is a sense of a beating heart when it comes to Jack’s writing. There is a sense of boyhood or yes womanhood charm. He created ideas and adventures that anyone could take hold of and relate to. While doing this project I was taken back to time periods that we can only dream about or look up in history books. From gold mining to snow covered races, to sailing the seas. From Wolfs, Dogs, Pirates and an Iron Will. Jack created wonderful realities of struggle, emotional demons, isolation, adventure, a will to survive and a will to live. He took everyday life and placed it in the confines of nature that brought a struggle to achieve a greater reality. His characters had a sense of life to them that transcended on the pages of the story being read. Jack made you believe.

His characters became you. His emotional personas gave you a breath of fresh air, or a beat of a heart. They felt real. They felt complex and sad, happy, filled with personal baggage or a need to grasp more. To push oneself further than ones means. Jack gave you the hills, the valleys, the snow-covered mountains. He gave you the rivers, and the fields all touched and untouched by man or woman.

My adventures began with Jack London when I was 10 years old. My Nanny bought me The Call of the Wild for a gift. I grew up in a reading world. My Nanny was a constant reader and she instilled in me the gift and glory of reading. When I got the book, I was instantly drawn to the story. I can still feel and relive the beauty and adventure of reading The Call of the Wild for the first time. Next my Nanny gifted me with White Fang, and I was utterly floored and forever in love with Jack London and his magical storytelling. It’s hard to believe that was 32 years ago, yet I remember it with vivid glee because both books left a lasting impression on me. Over the years I have watched many of the movie adaptions of the books, some were greater than others, but none could capture the spectacular reality that the written form was. To be honest I don’t know why it has taken me so long to return to The Call of the Wild and White Fang and now reading some of Jack London’s work for the first time. With that said I am glad I decided to adventure into his vast array of writing.

What I find amazing is Jack is remembered most for two of his books White Fang and The Call of the Wild, but Jack wrote much more and created many adventures and realities throughout his vast career. From short stories to novels. I find my personal favorites yes are White Fang and The Call of the Wild, but I loved his shorter stories or at least the stories no one really talks about like a personal favorite of mine A Daughter of the Snows which he created one of my all-time favorite Female characters in literature, Frona Welse. This character is brilliant because the story was written in 1902. 

Most female characters in books in those times had females as helpless, swoon worthy, or dressed up in big dresses and falling head over hills for guys, in the kitchen or taking care of babies and kids. Not Frona Welse, she was hard as nails and did what she wanted to do and that left an amazing lasting impression on me. Loved how Jack London created her and gave her to the world.

Jack London to me was a man that held inside him a complex reality of adventure, imagination, a spiraling web of emotional realities that bled off the pages into the mind of the reader. He created solid fascinating characters. He built places and things in vivid veracity that appealed to the inner soul. He gave you ideas. He gave you roads never traveled. He gave you snow covered landscapes that were painted to crystal clarity. Most of all he gave you animals that became more than just animals, but living, breathing beauties of personality. I don’t want to sound male chauvinist, but he was a man’s man. He was manly in his tales. He gave a boyhood wonder to his tales. He made the inner man smile. But I know his writing is beyond a gender type. Because his tales can transcend to male and female. As a prime example is of his character of Frona Welse. Jack was Jack. Jack knew how to write a word and give it life. Jack could make words smile, breath heavy, make emotional remarks. 

Jack brought words to life. Jack gave words a new meaning. Jack let you know what words could be and become.

As I started this adventure, I knew I was in for a total treat of boyhood daydreaming of adventure, but most of all, I was a man, reading about a man’s dreams, imaginations and complex ideas. I wanted to shake hands with Jack London. I wanted to be in the same room with Jack London. I wanted to share a Whiskey with Jack London. I wanted to sit, stare in awe of his amazing reality. When reading his stories, you get all that. Because he becomes a part of you as you read his many tales. You can’t help but feel Jack London in each sentence read. That is what I get from reading Jack London. That is what I feel any lover of written word will get from reading Jack London. During this reading process I felt the friend I had at 10 years old reading The Call of the Wild. I befriended Jack London again. I felt that boy spirit of adventure. I felt young again.

Jack London cited a novel titled Signa which was written by female English novelist Ouida (aka Maria Louise Rame,) which he said that he read at the age of eight years old, and it was one of the reasons for his literary success. He cited this book as one that brought the world of writing to him. She is probably best known for her books Under Two Flags and A Dog of Flanders.

What makes Jack so appealing and unique is he lived many of his adventure. He went into the Klondike gold rush, was an Oyster Pirate, a sailor, a hobo, even spent time in prison. He traveled the world and met many interesting situations and people. London created his worlds in written form in many personal experiences. He created characters and situations true to his heart and personal wellbeing. Jack lived his stories. Jack became his stories. Jack was his stories. Jack was a one of kind writer that yes had his flaws in beliefs such as Eugenics and many of his stories have racist dialogue or understandings. Jack had his flaws, many of them but he also had the wonder of imagination and a complex brilliance that was something that stood out and grabbed the reader and never let them go.

Jack was born on Jan. 12th, 1876. He was given the name John Griffith London. His birthplace was San Francisco California. Jack’s father has been lost to history although there is speculation that his father was astrologer William Chaney. Jack’s mother Flora Wellman was living with William Chaney when she became pregnant. History does not support any records of Flora and William ever being married. 

Although writer and biographer Clarice Stasz states that Flora was his wife and that she called herself Florence Wellman Chaney, the truth of the matter is, no one really knows the facts of history. 

Whatever the case is Jack was born. The whole ordeal was basically a soap opera reality. It seems Jack was a part of a huge story like reality before he ever was born. Flora Wellman his mom stated to the San Francisco Chronicle in the June 4, 1875 edition that Chaney did not want the child, refused that it was his and demanded that she get rid of it, meaning an abortion. To make the matters even more fantastical she went and shot herself trying for suicide but ultimately failed. And history states that she was temporarily made insane. To make a long story short or at least even more fantastical, she ended up giving birth to Jack and turned him over for care to Virginia Prentiss who was an African American, who happen to be a former slave. Virginia basically raised Jack. Flora in the year 1876 ended up marrying John London who was a Civil War vet. He ended up becoming Jack’s father. 

History states that when Jack was 21 years old and at the University of California he wanted to know about his past, his real father and wanted to understand where he came from. In his research he found out about his mother’s suicide attempt and the suppose name of his real father Chaney. What Jack received from this effort was heart ache and pain. Jack took it upon himself to write his father. 

Chaney responded stated his mother slept around a lot and that he was not his father. This reality set in and altered the path of Jack London. He dropped out of school and began his adventures. He went to the Klondike and became a part of the gold rush mentality.

Jack’s life was a mixture of a good wise tale yet was all true. His life was filled with the fancy and pure imaginative truth that brought this boy into a man who became a writing master. Jack loved reading and explored many realms of literature. History states that in the year 1886 his favorite place was the Oakland Public Library. There he became friends with the librarian. Her name was Ina Coolbrith. For all those lovers of poetry and the written verse, you will know that she was California’s very first poet Laureate. She was very famous in the literary reality. It is said in history that Ina encouraged Jack to learn, read and explore the world of books. Jack’s childhood adventures became an early reality through written word. He devoured books and became a lover of written word.

Now as you have read Jack’s life already mixed up in a fancy of reality from an absent father, a suicidal mother, and an upbringing by a stranger there is still more to the wild amazing story. In 1889 Jack decided to buy a sailboat named the Razzle-Dazzle. Now to make things even more weird and fancy and brilliant is that he bought it from a Pirate named French Frank. So, what did Jack do, did he sail, did he cross the waters in adventures, he did all that be he also decided to become a Pirate himself. An Oyster Pirate. Now to make things even more fantastical is history states or at least a biography by John Barleycorn, Jack stole French Frank’s mistress Mamie. Now Jack’s life as a Pirate came to an end when the Razzle Dazzle became damaged and destroyed beyond repair.

In 1893 Jack joined the sealing ship Sophie Sutherland and sealed to Japan. After returning to the states in 1894 Jack ended up in jail for vagrancy. From there Jack became one interesting reality after the other. From sailing to becoming a bonafide HOBO living on trains and so on. His career of adventure as stated in the Klondike Gold Rush reality began in 1897 when he was 21 years old after leaving collage. While Jack was there many of his imaginative means flooded his mind and would become that inspiration for many countless stories. Sadly, Jack did not have a favoring time in the Gold Rush territory. He like many men ended up becoming sick with scurvy. If you don’t know what scurvy is, it’s when one does not receive enough Vitamin C or basically poor food health. Jack became sick with swollen gums. He lost many teeth and muscles pains that was unrelenting. Jack during this time received many scars that would keep him in a reminder during his days of adventure in the wild winter adventure of the Klondike. Now in the town of Dawson there was a Father William Judge. History states he ran a place for those miners needing shelter and care and proper food. History states that Jack recovered there. Rumor states that this reality is where he came up with the idea of one of his best written short stories “To Build A Fire”.   

My Review and Thoughts on many of Jack's book's:

The Cruise of the Dazzler
This was first Published in the year 1902.

Plot: This is set up to a middle grade or young adult setting. It has a moral compass to the story. It’s about a young man about 15 years old who hangs with his friends, who daydreams of adventures. He can’t stand his crummy life of school, studying for tests. He hates school reality and dreams of grand adventures. He goes against his father’s wishes even though his father is one who does not boss him around or make many rules other than to study and to be good in school. But when Joe fails at that one task, Joe’s father mentions military school to fix the ordeal. Joe has it that he will never be learned through academic, or at least he doesn’t wish to try. Joe runs away and so begins the story of Joe adventuring into the world to be his own self and his own ways. Soon Joe realizes life isn’t just about adventure.  

The Best Character to always Remember: Joe Bronson. A character that I feel all men can relate to in one way or another. Boyhood charms. A sense of adventure. A complex of daydreaming. A wise inner soul that strives to make the right choices.

My Review and Thoughts: The best way to describe this book is it’s spunky. It’s a moral story, meaning a story with a message. It has all the early trademarks of an adventure tale. Fist fights. Sailing the seas. Pirates, guns. This is a simple tale and possibly one of Jacks simplest stories. As I have stated its geared to more of a younger audience even with its violence such as fist fights and gun play, but in the end, there is a moral to the story. Jack always knows how to create characters. He has a mastery in telling a life of a person. He builds his characters to a likable reality and The Cruise of the Dazzler is no different in that reality.

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Four Final Words: Fun with a message. Adventurous.


A Daughter of the Snows
This was first published in the year 1902.

Plot: This takes place in the town of Dawson. It’s about Frona Welse coming to meet her dad after several years. Frona is not your average woman of high class. Frona is different, yes, she possesses the high standard, and comes from a rich family, but her father Jacob Welse brought her up in the wild of the country. Training her to survive off the land, mingle with Indians and live a carefree life of adventure and skill. She is coming home after 2 years in London. Her father Jacob Welse is a man of vast business, money and land. He is a giant trader of goods. A captain of industry in desolate areas. He created the only stores aka trading post in vacant areas leading to the areas people seeking out the gold fever. He built whole towns and whole areas carved out because of his businesses. His dream is for his daughter to take over one day, or at least be a part of this business and that is why he trained her and brought her up in the ways of survival of the land. He not only instilled business, but also the will to survive and live and respect the land that they govern. You start out with Frona camping and making her way to her father. Everyone around is in total shock that a woman would dare try to camp and walk across the torrential terrain, but Frona is not an ordinary woman, she is a Welse. And so, begins the story of Frona Welse and her adventure in the town of Dawson and its many inhabitants.

The Best Character to always Remember: Frona Welse but there are so many wonderful characters throughout this book. Most all the characters attach to you and bring wonderful smiles, laughs and interesting emotional appeals. I think this is one of Jacks best character created story. It’s a town full of many personas that truly stand out and stick with you long after reading the story.

My Review and Thoughts: I can understand why this book is not talked about more and expressed in better detail when bringing up Jack London’s great books, the main reason is it’s not politically correct. For the time period it was written these ideas and non-politically correct tongue was a basic reality but looking at it today it’s vulgar and harsh and sadly racist. If one can get past this reality this is a brilliant book, a wonderful character study. What makes this book so strong is the characters created and developed. From Frona Welse to the main male character Vance Corliss. Vance Corliss is a brilliant character because instead of making Frona Welse the swoon worthy female over a male, Vance is the swoon worthy man over the female Frona. I love how Jack twisted and turned this notion on its head. Making the male lovey dovey. Next is the brilliant character of Gregory St. Vincent just plainly perfect in back story and present reality. That is what makes this whole story unique and priceless is the characters of Dawson. The wonderful vast array of emotions, back stories and complex webs that Jack creates for these personas are just plainly awesome. I love strong characters.

A prime example of how this book is not politically correct is one of the many written moments, here is one:

“We are a race of doers and fighters, of globe-encirclers and zone-conquerors. We toil and struggle and stand by the toil and struggle no matter how hopeless it may be. While we are persistent and resistant, we are so made that we fit ourselves to the most divers conditions. ---- Will the Indian, the Negro, or the Mongrol ever conquer the Teuton? (Teuton refers to a tribe in Ancient Greek referring to a Germanic Tribe, mainly meaning a superior race, aka referring to the white race) Surely not! The Indian has persistence without variability; if he does try to modify, he dies anyway. The Negro has adaptability, but he is servile and must be led. As for the Chinese, they are permanent. All that the other races are not, the Anglo-Saxon, or Teuton if you please, is. All that the other races have not, the Teuton has.”

As you see these types of comments are racist and vulgar and sadly stain the whole wonderful and brilliant book that it is. There are also other comments. If one can look pass this reality which it is hard to do, then this is such a wonderful, complex and brilliant storyline. A thick plotted brilliance. Awesome dynamic characters and brilliantly created situations.

As I have stated there are non-politically correct comments throughout and yet then Jack London turns around and writes something brilliant like:

Yet of all creatures, she was the last to be deaf and blind to the things of the spirit. But the things of the spirit she demanded should be likewise strong. No halting, no stuttered utterance, tremulous waiting, minor wailing! The mind and the soul must be as quick and definite and certain as the body. Nor was the spirit made alone for immortal dreaming. Like the flesh, it must strive and toil. It must be workaday as well as idle day. She could understand a weakling singing sweetly and even greatly, and in so far, she could love him for his sweetness and greatness; but her love would have fuller measure were he strong of body as well. She believed she was just. She gave the flesh its due and the spirit it’s due; but she had, over and above, her own choice, her own individual ideal. She liked to see the two go hand in hand. Prophecy and dyspepsia did not affect her as a felicitous admixture. A splendid savage and weak-kneed poet! She could admire the one for the brawn and the other for his song; but she would prefer that they had been made one in the beginning.     

Even with its racist comments, it still is one of my all-time favorite stories by Jack London. Look past the comments, I know it’s hard, but don’t let the comments destroy a truly brilliant character driven plot. An awesome plotted tale. A wonderful cast of characters. Humor and adventure. Give it a whirl and be taken in by the town of Dawson.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (I wanted to give this story a 5 out of 5 but sadly I could not overlook the racist comments and because of those comments it made the story less amazing and brilliant, even though it was written at another time period. The other reason I took a half a point away was the sudden ending, I personally don’t understand it or grasp what Jack was trying to say on the last page. I love the book and then it was like boom, last page crappy ending, just did not get it or at least understand it).

Four Final Words: Brilliantly created. Flawed Mastery.


The Call of the Wild
This was first Published in the year: 1903

Plot: The adventure is set in Yukon Canada. The time 1890’s during the Klondike Gold Rush. Your character is a dog named Buck. Buck is stolen and sold into service as a sled dog in Alaska. There poor Buck must fight to survive and dominate.

The Best Character to always Remember: Buck, I will always remember this dog. This Dog was more than just a written, imaginative creation. Buck became a life of its own.

My Review and Thoughts: As I have stated above this was my introduction to Jack London. I was 10 years old. It was a gift and it forever locked me into love for Jack London. I had always read, my adventures with reading was already a stable reality but when I opened The Call of the Wild for this first time I was instantly hooked and was instantly amazed at the brilliance and beauty of Jack London. His storytelling created a lasting mark on my boyhood and my imagination. The Call of the Wild is a book I always bring up in reading circles, book clubs or just suggestion to others on a classic that should be read. The Call of the Wild will always be a book that is true to my heart and one that remains in my thinking. Jack gave me something that I will always hold dear, that is a boyhood escape. You see I was a child of abuse. I was abused physically, mentally and sexually as a child and so books gave me an outlet to escape my horrors. The Call of the Wild gave me an adventure, it sent me on a spiraling emotional wonderment that gave me a little peace through the darkness that I had went through. Books were my escape and Jack London was a major part of that escape. And so that is the reason I hold The Call of the Wild and White Fang close to me in all things.

Basically, to describe The Call of the Wild it is a book about animal fiction, but it is so much more than just a genera of animal fiction. There is an underlining story, moral reality, there is an emotional statement in the actions of the animal, of man, of atmosphere, of situation. 

What makes The Call of Wild unique and brilliant is he gave the animal, Buck your main star a human side. Feelings, emotions, human like reality. He brought a dog to life on page and allowed you to experience the dog’s mind, thoughts, ideas, and reality.

The Call of the Wild is a perfect book to read. It’s a book that I feel is for all ages. It’s a brilliant adventure story. The Call of the Wild was first sold to The Saturday Evening Post, Jack London was given $750 dollars. The book rites were sold to Macmillan for $2,000 dollars. I suppose one could say the rest is History because Jack would become a great success. For inspiration for this novel Jack London spent a whole year in the Yukon. When it had been sold to The Saturday Evening Post it was brought out in serial setting in 4 different installments. It was so popular it became a book soon after. This basically made Jack. The Call of the Wild was the book that basically brought Jack to the forefront of written word. This book is a magical and personal story filled with a complex reality of truth. A dog, man and survival. The amazing first edition of the book which came out in August 1903 had a wonderful 10 color plates which was drawn and created by two master craftsman, Philip R. Goodwin and Charles Livingston Bull. Goodwin was a master artist of wildlife and outdoors, fishing and so on. He was a true artistic genius of beauty beyond words. Both he and Livingston were masters at art. 

This amazing first edition in 1903 sold for 1 dollar and 50 cents.      

Great Moments from The Call of the Wild:

Not only did he learn by experience, but instincts long dead became alive again. The domesticated generations fell from him. In vague ways he remembered back to the youth of the breed, to the time the wild dogs ranged in packs through the primeval forest and killed their meat as they ran it down. It was no task for him to learn to fight with cut and slash and the quick wolf snap. In this manner had fought forgotten ancestors. They quickened the old life within him, and the old tricks which they had stamped into heredity of the breed were his tricks. They came to him without effort or discovery, as though they had been his always. And when, on the still cold nights, he pointed his nose at a star and howled long and wolflike, it was his ancestors, dead and dust, pointing nose at star and howling down through the centuries were their cadences, the cadences which voiced their woe and what to them was the meaning of the stiffness, and the cold, and dark.

With the aurora borealis flaming coldly overhead, or the stars leaping in the frost dance, and the land numb and frozen under its pall of snow, this song of the huskies might have been the defiance of life, only it was pitched in minor key, with long-drawn wailings and half-sobs, and was more the pleading of life, the articulate travail of existence. It was an old song, old as the breed itself – one of the first songs of the younger world in a day when songs were sad. It was invested with the woe of unnumbered generations, this plaint by which Buck was so strangely stirred. When he moaned and sobbed, it was with the pain of living that was of old the pain of his wild fathers, and the fear and mystery of the cold and dark that was to them fear and mystery. And that he should be stirred by it marked the completeness with which he harked back through the ages of fire and roof to the raw beginnings of life in the howling ages.

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad on a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight. He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of time. He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars and over the face of dead matter that did not move.

Mercy did not exist in the primordial life. It was misunderstood for fear, and such misunderstandings made for death. Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate, down out of the depths of Time, he obeyed.   

The American Literature Scholar David Pizer sums it up perfectly: “the strong, the shrewd, and the cunning shall prevail when…life is bestial.”

H.L. Menken stated: “No other popular writer of his time did any better writing than you will find in The Call of the Wild.”

New York Times wrote in 1903: “If nothing else makes Mr. London book popular, it ought to be rendered so by the complete way in which it will satisfy the love of dog fights apparently inherent in ever man.”

The Atlantic Monthly wrote: “untouched by bookishness…The making and the achievement of such a hero (Buck) constitute, not a pretty story at all, but a very powerful one.”

I think what makes The Call of the Wild so amazing, so touching, so brilliant is that it has a soul. It has a beating heart. Buck becomes you. You become buck but most all the story becomes your story. 

It’s amazing that a book written in 1903 is still taught today in school. Still sales amazingly. When this book first came out it sold out its first 10 thousand copies. Even in 1903 people experienced the brilliance about it. Schools, colleges, and simple book clubs still teach it, read it, express it and most of all talk about it. As of this writing it has been published in over 47 different languages. This book made London. This book brought Jack London into the household. This book made Jack London a household name.

One of my favorite quotes that Jack London stated about The Call of the Wild was not even about The Call of the Wild it was about his proposing a new book White Fang. He wrote to the book publishers Macmillan and said: “I’m going to reverse the process… Instead of devolution of decivilization … I’m going to give evolution, the civilization of a dog.”

The Call of the Wild is beautiful, brilliant mastery at it’s best. It is a true favorite and always will be.

My Rating: 5 out of 5. Easily Jacks best imaginative, truthful work.

Four Final Words: Brutally naturalized. Personality enriched.


The Kempton-Wace Letters
This was first Published in the year: 1903.

Plot: What makes this novel interesting is it was published anonymously. This book was also coauthored with Jack by Anna Strunsky. Both were part of a radical literary group called The Crowd. This novel presents itself in a series of letters between two men, Herbert Wace a young scientist and Dane Kempton a poet. Both men are discussing the philosophy of love and sex. Jack London plays the part of Wace and Anna Strunsky plays the part of Kempton. The character of Kempton writes about feeling and emotion while Wace takes it from a scientific point of view.

My Review and Thoughts: This is a totally different and unique book for Jack London. It’s a departure of Adventure style that most know him for. This creates a human side, a personal reality of emotional personas. Two people writing back and forth to each other. As I have stated both Jack and Anna were part of a radical writing group. Anna Strunsky was a dear friend of Jacks, she met him in Stanford University. Anna was also an author and advocate of socialism. She too was part of the San Francisco California area. Anna and Jack’s friendship was so personal that after Jack died at such a young age, she ended up writing a memoir of him called The Masses which was published in 1917. Many people come to the reality that this book expresses Jack’s ideas and realities of many of his truths. Many believe that the character of Wace is basically the thinking of Jack London. Jack was a man that believed in science and a Darwinian approach to life. 

This is my least favorite Jack London book. It has its merit, but I think at times it’s very boring and very unreadable. This is one you basically cross over when mentioning Jack’s greatest works.

My Rating: 2 out of 5

Four Final Words: Long Winded. Boring. Simple.


The Sea-Wolf
This was first Published in the year: 1904

Plot: The Sea Wolf is about a man named Humphrey van Weyden. He is a literary critic. And his personal reality is he survived a wreck of a ship and is saved by Wolf Larsen who is a sea captain. But what Weyden does not realize is Wolf Larsen is a powerful, dominating and brutal man and Weyden is under his reality. Weyden is an intellectual non-fighting persona. A basic soft personal reality. Soon Weyden must come to terms and toughen up because of the cruelty and brutality that now he must face.

The Best Character to always Remember: Wolf Larsen is a character I will always remember and never forget. Brutal, honest, evil, destructive, Calm collective wrath.

My Review and Thoughts: Interesting to note, even though this book is fictional, there are some truths to the novel itself. The character of Wolf Larsen is based on a real-life sailor that Jack London had known Captain Alex Maclean. Throughout the book there is much mention of philosophy, mainly attacking the reality of the super-man persona that Nietzsche wrote about. Other philosophers mentioned are Herbert Spencer, Omar Khayyam, and other well know writers of life and personality enriched personas, Charles Darwin, Shakespeare and John Milton.

This is Jack’s most brutal book. It is filled with a brilliant intensity. There is a mixture of philosophy throughout. A mastery of dialogue of life and death. Wolf Larsen is one character you never forget after reading this intense book. The dialogue between Wolf Larsen and Humphrey is some of the best written in book form. The intense talk about life and death, the soul, and so on is brutal reality. Wolf Larsen is so well written that it’s a love hate understanding of this man. His ideas and intense reality make you question the very ideas of life and death. Wolf Larsen is equal part savage and equal part truth, or at least a flawed truth. The Sea Wolf is a book that is pure storytelling and one book that never lets up. The emotional intensity built around the situations mentioned throughout the story and the pure emotional ordeal of Wolf Larsen’s beliefs in a mind-altering reality that lingers deep inside your subconscious.

This is a hard book to get through, not in that it’s bad or long winded, it's hard to get through because the characters are so well written that you basically can’t stand or hate them all accept your main character Humphrey. The book is brutal in nature. From violence, death talk, to lack of care in human life. This was a book that clearly pushed the boundaries of normality for it’s time period.

I love the way Jack London is so descriptive in his story telling, a prime example is:

I seemed swinging in a mighty rhythm through orbit vastness. Sparkling points of light spluttered and shot past me. They were stars, I knew, and flaring comets, that peopled my flight among the suns. As I reached the limit of my swing and prepared to rush back on the counter swing, a great gong struck and thundered. For an immeasurable period, lapped in the rippling of placid centuries, I enjoyed and pondered my tremendous flight. But a change came over the face of the dream, for a dream I told myself it must be. My rhythm grew shorter and shorter. I was jerked from swing to counter swing with irritating haste. I could scarcely catch my breath, so fiercely was I impelled through the heavens. 

The gong thundered more frequently and more furiously. I grew to await it with a nameless dread. Then I seemed as though I were being dragged over rasping sands, white and hot in the sun. This gave place to a sense of intolerable anguish. My skin was scorching in the torment of fire. The gong clanged and knelled. The sparkling points of light flashed past me in an interminable stream, as though the whole sidereal system were dropping into the void. I gasped, caught my breath painfully, and opened my eyes. Two men were kneeling beside me, working over me. My mighty rhythm was the lift and forward plunge of a ship on the sea. The terrific gong was a frying-pan, hanging on the wall, that rattled and clattered with each leap of the ship. The rasping, scorching sands were a man’s hard hands chafing mu naked chest. I squirmed under the pain of it, and half lifted my head. My chest was raw and red, and I could see tiny blood globules starting through the torn and inflamed cuticle.

Another favorite description is:

Then it was that the cruelty of the sea, its relentlessness and awfulness, rushed upon me. Life had become cheap and tawdry, a beastly and inarticulate thing, a soulless stirring of ooze and slime. I held on to the weather rail, close by the shrouds, and gazed out across the desolate foaming waves to the low-lying fogbanks that hid San Francisco and the California coast. Rainsqualls were driving in between, and I could scarcely see the fog. And this strange vessel, with its terrible men, pressed under by wind and sea and ever leaping up and out, was heading away into the south-west, into the great and lonely Pacific expanse.

The Sea Wolf is filled with amazing dialogue and thoughtful displays of knowledge and hatred in interesting brutality in beliefs. A prime example is:

“I held that life was a ferment, a yeasty something which devoured life that it might live, and that living was merely successful piggishness. Why, if there is anything in supply and demand, life is the cheapest thing in the world. There is only so much water, so much earth, so much air; but the life that is demanding to be born is limitless. Nature is a spendthrift. Look at the fish and their millions of eggs. For that matter, look at you and me. In our loins are the possibilities of millions of lives. Could we but find time and opportunity and utilize the last bit and every bit of the unborn life that is in us, we could become the fathers of nations and populate continents. Life? Bah! It has no value. Of cheap things it is the cheapest. Everywhere it goes begging. Nature spills it out with a lavish hand. Where there is rooms for one life, the sows a thousand lives, and it’s life eats life till the strongest and most piggish life is left.”

“You have read Darwin,” I said.

“But you read him misunderstandingly when you conclude that the struggle for existence sanctions your wanton destruction of life.” He shrugged his shoulders. “You know you only mean that in relation to human life, for of the flesh and the fowl and the fish you destroy as much as I or any other man. And human life is in nowise different, though you feel it is and think that you reason why it is. Why should I be parsimonious with this life? There are more sailors than there are ships on the sea for them, more workers than there are factories or machines for them. Why, you who live on the land know that you house your poor people in the slums of cities and loose famine and pestilence upon them, and that there still remain more poor people, dying for want of a crust of bread and bit of meat (which is life destroyed), than you know what to do with. Have you ever seen the London dockers fighting like wild beasts for a chance to work?” He started for the companion stairs but turned his head for a final word. “Do you know the only value life has is what life puts upon itself? And it is of course over-estimated since it is of necessity prejudiced in its own favour. Take that man I had aloft. He held on as if he were a precious thing, a treasure beyond diamonds or rubies. To you? No. To me? Not at all. To himself? Yes. But I do not accept his estimate. He sadly overrates himself. There is plenty more life demanding to be born. Had he fallen and dripped his brains upon the deck like honey from the comb, there would have been no loss to the world. He was worth nothing to the world. The supply is too large. To himself only was he the value, and to show how fictitious even this value was, being dead he is unconscious that he has lost himself. He alone rated himself beyond diamonds and rubies. Diamonds and rubies are gone, spread out on the deck to be washed away by a bucket of seawater, and he does not even know that the diamonds and rubies are gone. He does not lose anything, for with the loss of himself he loses the knowledge of loss. Don’t you see? And what have you to say?”

That you are at least consistent,” was all I could say, and I went on washing the dishes.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Four Final Words: Brutal, mentally alluring, Mastery.


The Game
This was first Published in the year: 1905

Plot: This is about a boxer named Joe Fleming. The narration or story is told from the point of view of Joe’s love interest Genevieve. 

Joe supports his mother and sister in life by fixing and making sails for sailboats. 

On the sideline to make more money he takes part in prize fighting boxing. He and Genevieve are encaged to be married. 

Through Genevieve’s beckoning Joe agrees to give up his fighting career. Joe wants one last fight and he wants Genevieve to be there in support. She reluctantly agrees. 

My Rating: 4 out of 5


White Fang
This was first Published in the year: 1906

Plot: This is about a wild wolf dog. It’s a about White Fang in his natural habitat throughout his journey of becoming a domesticated animal in the Yukon Territory during the 1890 Klondike Gold Rush.

My Review and Thoughts: As I have stated above The Call of the Wild and White Fang are two books that helped me as a child. White Fang just like The Call of the Wild gave me an escape of wonderful dreams and adventures that only Jack could do. White Fang is another mastery of storytelling that leaves a wonderful lasting impression on your mind and lingers long after the story is over. I find both books fascinating and truly worthy to praise in the storytelling reality of adventure and idea. Set during a time period of amazing exploration and imagination. White Fang is a magical awesome book of amazing situations, ideas, exploration and most of all a feeling of real life.

This was first published in the magazine Outing in a serial compacity. What is so amazing about White Fang is like The Call of the Wild, most of the story is from the viewpoint, thinking and reality of the wolf. From the violent world of animals to the violent world of humans, White Fang experiences it all in wonderful, vivid and emotional details. Jack London gives a beating heart to a wonderful wolf character that forever will stay with you. What I find amazing about this book is it touches on so many truths, so many authentic realities such as morality and redemption. Jack gives a human heart to the story. He can bring to life, life on page.

Amazing fact is that this amazing book has been published in over 89 different languages and in a brilliant reality created into a 3 volume Braille edition for the blind. This book should be read, should be experienced and should be on anyones bookshelf. This to me along with The Call of the Wild should be required reading. Both books create a true understanding of the emotional reality of life. Man, and Animal. Animal and Man.   

My Rating: 5 out of 5

Four Final Words: Magical. Awe Inspiring brilliance.


Before Adam
This was first Published in the year: 1907

Plot: This is about a man, the story of man. A man who dreams back in time. Further and further into the reality of evolution. It’s about a man who dreams about the lives, his life as a hominid. It’s about Jack’s belief system of Darwinian approach to life. Man came from a monkey like animal.

My Review and Thoughts: I personally think this is one of Jack’s most unique and different styles of writing. It takes place in pure imagination and pure history mixed into one. This like many of Jack’s work was serialized in a mgazine, in this case the magazine called, Everybody’s Magazine. It ran over a period of time.

This is a mixture of science and magical dream like history. From Cave people to a higher form of hominid the Fire People. You also have the more animal people called the Tree People. Jack creates a world around this hominid, who has a father, a love interest and fear. This like many of Jack’s writing has a personal touch of his beliefs such as Eugenics’.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Four Final Words: Truly Insteresting. Brilliant Storytelling


The Iron Heel
This was first Published in the year: 1908

Plot: A dystopian novel. A science fiction written by Jack London. This is one of the pioneering books of this genera and style of science fiction. 

It is about a rise of tyranny in the Untied States. Jack brings many of his key beliefs into this novel specifically his socialist viewpoints. 

This is also unique in that your main first-person narration is a female that is written from a male’s point of view. Jack created a female narrative. 

For the time period this was basically unheard of.

My Review and Thoughts: This one is truly a different story than any and all of Jack’s work. You either love this one or you hate this one. It’s something complex, brilliant and yet almost numbing to the senses. There is almost a love hate relationship with this novel. 

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Four Final Words: Different. Unique. Imaginative. Odd.


Martin Eden
This was first Published in the year: 1909

Plot: This is about a young man named Martin Eden who struggles to get out of his poor setting. 

He nolonger wishes to be destitute. He strives to self educate himself. 

He wishes to write and become an author. 

He loves and cherishes a lady named Ruth Morse. But he is poor and lower class and she is the rich side of life. 

So begins his story of trying to better himself. 

To strive to be more than his working class uneducated self. 

It’s a style of Romeo and Juliet, he wants her, but his life, class and reality can not mingle with the upper class and so he pushes himself to try and become the upper class.

My Rating: 3 out of 5


Burning Daylight
This was first Published in the year: 1910

Plot: This is about your main character nicknamed Burning Daylight. The plot takes places in the Yukon Territory in the year 1893. 

Burning Daylight happens to strike it rich in the Alaskan Gold Rush. There he takes it upon himself to enter the world of Wall Street. 

He soon realizes the vicious cons and the horrors of Wall Street. He strives to be apart of the world but soon realizes that being apart of the world of money is not all it cracks up to be.

My Review and Thoughts: Interesting to note this was the most successful selling Jack London book in his lifetime.

My Rating: 4 out of 5


This was first Published in the year: 1911

Plot: This is a book that explored many themes that Jack London uses throughout his vast career of writing including domination of people by a particular race. 

It’s about the many ideas and realities of race, and also the emancipation of women. 

It explores the concept of the human spirit to better itself. 

It’s about the human spirit of struggle with the reality of nature and the class of society.

My Rating: 4 out of 5


The Scarlet Plague
This was first Published in the year: 1912

Plot: The year is 2073. The world is at a survival setting for it’s been 60 years since an epidemic called Red Death ran rampant. It destroyed most of the planet’s population. James Smith is one lone surviver of the horrors. He alongside his grandsons live in a world of destruction. They strive about in a world of hunting and gathering to live. The area is what use to be San Francisco before the great plague hit. His grandsons want to know about the Red Death and there grandfathers life. So Smith sets out to tell his life story to his grandsons and how Red Death became the earth’s populations ultimate destruction.

My Review and Thoughts: This was originally published serialized in the London Magazine in 1912. It originally was written in 1910 but did not become a published book until 1915. This is a different style book for Jack, for it is a post-apocalyptic fiction story. It’s a mixture of the future and also the past. It takes place in many settings for the year 2013 to the present of the story 2073. You have to realize this was written in 1912 and so any future story is pur imaginative in that reality. Jack does a great job in creating a world of lifeless reality and also a world on the verge of when that very destruction begins.  That is one reason I find Jack London so amazing as a writer, he can write any style of genera. From drama, action adventure, to science fiction and beyond. He was a true winner when it came to telling stories.

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Four Final Words: Interesting Concept. Very Strange.


A Son of the Sun
This was first Published in the year: 1912

Plot: This is a short story collection containing 8 separate stories. Like in great Jack London fashion, all the stories are set in one place the South Pacific and in those stories you get a variety of tales for adventures, pirates and even cannibals.

A Son of the Sun
The Proud Goat of Aloysius Pankburn
The Devils of Fuatino
The Jokers of New Gibbon
A Little Account with Swithin Hall
A Goboto Night
The Feathers of the Sun
The Pearls of Parlay

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Four Final Words: Great Imaginative writing. Solid.


The Abysmal Brute
This was first Published in the year: 1913

Plot: Your main character is Pat Glendon Jr. who is a promising boxer. He lives in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, fishes, reads poetry and lives off the land. His father believes his son to be a great boxer and so contacts boxing manager Sam Stubener. From there Sam takes Pat to San Francisco. Now Pat is a great boxer an is ready to take on big boxers, but rules and regulations make Pat start off boxing lower rank boxers. So begins Pat's ordeal in the boxing world. Pat ultimatly realizes that the world of boxing is not cut out to be what he expected. From corruption, to fame and fortune, Pat experiences it all. 

My Review and Thoughts: The book was first published in print form in 1913, but originally debut in the magazine Popular Magazine in the year 1911. Jack has written many boxing stories and this one is just like his others, amazingly formed in story, idea and conclusion. Jack always was able to create and place you the reader in the ring or any reality he was writing about.

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Four Final Words: Action. Awesome Word play.


The Valley of the Moon
This was first Published in the year: 1913

Plot: Your main two characters, Billy Roberts who is part of the Teamsters and is a boxer and Saxon Roberts who works in laundry, are a married couple who are part of the working class. They both struggle to make ends meet. To make a long story short, Billy ends up going to jail because of some violent attacks on strikebreakers. In this process the stress causes Saxon to loose her baby she was pregnant with. When Billy is released from prison. Both decide to leave the city in hopes to own a piece of farm land. During this process of travel Billy and Saxon meet many interesting and lively people and experience many memorable realities that are vividly written about by the hands of Jack London’s imagination.

My Review and Thoughts: Sadly this is an underrated Jack London book. This is what is termed as a Road Book. Meaning on the likes of Jack Kerouac’s style, yet this takes place more than 50 years before Kerouac’s writing. What make this novel stand out is the many different personas that Billy and Saxon come across. It’s truly a brilliant people study style writing. The many different classes of life and struggle. The artistic merit of human beings to live. Jack London gives life to so many interesting personas.

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Four Final Words: Amazing Story. Awesome Characters.


The Mutiny of the Elsinore
This was first Published in the year: 1914

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Star Rover
This was first Published in the year: 1915

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Little Lady of the Big House
This was first Published in the year: 1916

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Jerry of the Islands
This was first Published in the year: 1917

My Rating: 3 out of 5

Michael, Brother of Jerry
This was first Published in the year: 1917

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Hearts of Three
This was first Published in the year: 1920

My Rating: 4 out of 5

The Son of the Wolf
This was first Published in the year: 1900

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Road
This was first Published in the year: 1907

My Rating: 4 out of 5

The People of the Abyss
This was first Published in the year: 1903

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Sadly, Jack died at the very young age 40 years old. He suffered from many problems. During his many true-life adventures to the Klondike and other areas of tropical realities. He himself lived like his stories traveling to amazing places and creating amazing adventures. Among some of his ailments he suffered from scurvy, tropical infections and certain diseases including yaws which is an infection of the skin and bones and joints causing hard swelling of the skin which can break open and cause an ulcer. It causes massive joint pain and fatigue among many other happenings. London during the time of his death suffered all these problems including dysentery and Uremia, and sadly alcoholism. He was in great pain and suffering with his many problems. That is one reason that the rumor started that he killed himself. He was on major doses of morphine to ease his pain and suffering. Many still to this day say he killed himself. Whatever the case is, Jack London was a man who lived his stories, became his characters and yet sadly suffered the horrors that adventures can create. I can only imagine how many more stories was within him. How many more books he could have written?

And so, I conclude my adventure into reading everything Jack London. I have reviewed and mentioned many of his amazing stories and felt intrigued and personally guided by the wonderful spirit of Jack and his many wonders of adventures and tales told by the campfire style setting. If you’re a reader or a lover of written word than Jack London is a writer that deserves to be read. Yes, there are sadly racist realities in many of his tales, but don’t let that ruin a great writer. All people have a bitter side and Jack had his problems, but Jack also had a side of imagination and wonderment of glorious exploration through tales of fancy and extreme. He told tales to enlighten, inspire, explore, transcend and to cause adventure and humor. He was a one of a kind explorer and trapper of tales.