The Last American Man

The Last American Man

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Elizabeth Gilbert

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  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 188mm x 20mm | 222g
  • Publication date: 1 August 2009
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1408801167
  • ISBN 13: 9781408801161
  • Sales rank: 59,295

Product description

At the age of seventeen, Eustace Conway ditched the comforts of his suburban existence to escape to the wild. Away from the crushing disapproval of his father, he lived alone in a teepee in the mountains. Everything he needed he built, grew or killed. He made his clothes from deer he killed and skinned before using their sinew as sewing thread. But he didn't stop there. In the years that followed, he stopped at nothing in pursuit of bigger, bolder challenges. He travelled the Mississippi in a handmade wooden canoe; he walked the two-thousand-mile Appalachian Trail; he hiked across the German Alps in trainers; he scaled cliffs in New Zealand. One Christmas, he finished dinner with his family and promptly upped and left - to ride his horse across America. From South Carolina to the Pacific, with his little brother in tow, they dodged cars on the highways, ate road kill and slept on the hard ground. Now, more than twenty years on, Eustace is still in the mountains, residing in a thousand-acre forest where he teaches survival skills and attempts to instil in people a deeper appreciation of nature. But over time he has had to reconcile his ambitious dreams with the sobering realities of modernity. Told with Elizabeth Gilbert's trademark wit and spirit, this is a fascinating, intimate portrait of an endlessly complicated man: a visionary, a narcissist, a brilliant but flawed modern hero. The Last American Man is an unforgettable adventure story of an irrepressible life lived to the extreme. The Last American Man is a New York Times Notable Book and National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist.

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Author information

Elizabeth Gilbert is the author of a short story collection, Pilgrims (a finalist for the Pen/Hemingway Award), a novel, Stern Men and a book of non fiction, The Last American Man (nominated for the National Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book for 2002). She is a writer-at-large for American GQ where she has received two National Magazine Award nominations for feature writing. Her most recent book, Eat, Pray, Love is an international bestseller. Elizabeth Gilbert lives in Philadelphia.

Customer reviews

By Marianne Vincent 20 May 2012 4

The Last American Man is the first non-fiction book by Elizabeth Gilbert, written four years before her highly-successful memoir, Eat, Pray, Love. It tells the story of Eustace Conway, an American Man who believes his mission in life is to show the American population that they can be strong and resourceful, grow their own food, fabricate their own clothes, make fire with 2 sticks, and save the planet. Eustace was taught and encouraged to learn the survival skills he needed to be able to live in the woods by his supportive mother whilst being constantly denigrated and ridiculed by his cruel and mentally abusive father. It is therefore a great wonder that he survived these opposing influences, that he was self-assured enough to become the living metaphor: the rugged frontiersman, explorer, pioneer that Americans could idolise. Gilbert describes a man who is passionate about what he believes to the point of having an uncompromising personality that fails to appreciate and encourage the efforts of good people around him. She does this with humour and insight, and the book is quite fascinating in places, even if the end is a bit light on. This is certainly a much better read than her later, hugely self-indulgent Eat, Pray, Love.

Review quote

'It is almost impossible not to fall under the spell of Eustace Conway his accomplishments, his joy and vigor, seem almost miraculous' New York Times Review of Books 'A vigorous, engaging book Elizabeth Gilbert presents a warts-and-all portrait of Mr. Conway and a sophisticated understanding of why those warts are only natural' The New York Times 'A vivid, nuanced portrait of an endlessly complicated man' San Francisco Chronicle 'Gilbert artfully taps into this unique life to create a fascinating, deeply-thought-out and enthralling narrative' Los Angeles Times