Book Review: Pilgrim’s Wilderness

Pilgrim’s Wilderness
Tom Kizzia

According to the book description on, Tom Kizzia has captured the story of the Pilgrim family in a book that is “Into the Wild meets Helter Skelter in this riveting true story of a modern-day homesteading family in the deepest reaches of the Alaskan wilderness—and of the chilling secrets of its maniacal, spellbinding patriarch.” The book tells the story of the Pilgrim family’s fight with the National Park Service over land they purchased in a national park in Alaska. Papa Pilgrim has a twisted view of religion and lords over his family with these crazy notions, leaving one to question whether his family actually abides by these rules by choice or more as hostages. His religious fervor combined with his anti-government mentality leads to a situation that the back of the book calls “an era-defining clash between environmentalists and pioneers ignited by a mesmerizing sociopath who held a town and a family captive.”

For some reason, I am fascinated by stories of those who have been in cults or very fundamentalist religions.  I enjoy reading their accounts and learning more about these factions that we sometimes don’t even know exist. That’s the reason I picked up this book, I thought it would be an interesting story, unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me this time.

It’s not very often that I pick up a book and am not able to read through the whole thing without losing interest; I love reading so I’m usually game for ready most anything.  That was not the case with this book.  With a subtitle that boasts about it being “a true story of faith and madness on the Alaska frontier,” I expected the book to be something that would really pique my interest and tell an intriguing story.  While I’m sure the story is fascinating, I can’t get through how much information is included.  There’s so much description and detail at time that I lost the story trying to get through it all. The writer also bounces around in time, going back and forth between past and present.  Given the amount of other information included, I think  I would have been able to follow it better if it was set up in chronological order. I’m sure there’s an interesting story under all the fluff, but I have yet to find it.  I’ve had this book for two months and haven’t even gotten halfway through it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for this review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.


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