A wildman follows the call of the wild.
If Anthony Bourdain went Iron John—and cut back significantly on the libations—he’d be Mark Jenkins (The Hard Way: Stories of Danger, Survival, and the Soul of Adventure, 2002, etc.). An obsessive hiker, biker and traveler, Jenkins is also a husband and father, so he has to balance being at home with wife Sue and daughters Addi and Teal against his addiction to worldwide adventure-seeking. Over the past few years, he has traveled to Alaska, Russia, Greece, Switzerland and points north, south, east and west. Along the way there have been outings both physically and emotionally painful: He almost had his arm ripped off in a cycling accident, and he missed seeing his daughter take her first steps. Yet he persevered, sacrificing the comfort and love of home for the excitement of the unknown. A regular contributor to Outside magazine as well as a veteran travel and fitness writer, Jenkins comes off here as an über-macho dude with an engaging sensitive side—his friends and family are as important as, say, a jaunt to Tibet, if not more so. He’s an adrenaline junkie, far less interesting when he slows down to offer some history of an area he’s visiting. However, these sections are generally separate from the main narrative, so those inclined can skip them and get back to tales of the author tearing leeches from his legs or attacking a mountain in Tasmania.
Jenkins’s superb memory and solid writing chops break him out from the pack of true-life adventure scribes.