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Pilgrim's Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

A Harrowing Frontier Tale of the Perverse Pilgrim Clan Kizzia,

A Harrowing Frontier Tale of the Perverse Pilgrim Clan

Kizzia, in this beautifully written piece of nonfiction, captures the essence of the perverse Pilgrim clan that has indelibly marked Alaska and it no doubt will be remembered in tales of mythic proportion. Papa Pil...
A Harrowing Frontier Tale of the Perverse Pilgrim Clan

Kizzia, in this beautifully written piece of nonfiction, captures the essence of the perverse Pilgrim clan that has indelibly marked Alaska and it no doubt will be remembered in tales of mythic proportion. Papa Pilgrim along with his wife and fifteen children sold themselves as a moralistic pack of holy-rollers when they first moved to Alaska; however, that façade soon vanished.

The family Patriarch, calling himself Papa Pilgrim, whose previous pregnant wife was found mysteriously shot in the head, had a less than upright past. After settling in McCarthy, Alaska, Papa Pilgrim decided to bulldoze a road into a state park and setup a meager one-room homestead there much to the government’s and neighbors’ dismay.

In harmony with outward unrest that the Pilgrim homestead created, much was amiss within it. Pilgrim’s children were illiterate and sexually abused—many argue whether they were hostages or proud followers of their patriarch. In a land of seemingly endless frontier and self-invention, Papa Pilgrim pushed to the limits and ignited endless conflicts.

Kizzia’s true account is one that captures the harrowing results of perverted libertarianism. A sense of place and landscape plays an integral role in this page-turner, as Alaska is in many ways a final frontier. If you enjoy true crime or tales of the more remote reaches of civilization, I recommend this book. Another engrossing account of life in the cold corners of the earth is Peter Freuchen’s Arctic Adventure, in which Freuchen details his assimilation into Inuit life and culture.

posted by BartlebyTheScrivener on July 18, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

I am writing this comment regarding Tom Kizzia¿s book, ¿ Pilg




I am writing this comment regarding Tom Kizzia’s book, “ Pilgrim’s Wilderness” from the perspective of a direct family member. I believe this story of my Dad’s life should have died with him and not been encouraged to go on. My fear would be that his life encourages ...



I am writing this comment regarding Tom Kizzia’s book, “ Pilgrim’s Wilderness” from the perspective of a direct family member. I believe this story of my Dad’s life should have died with him and not been encouraged to go on. My fear would be that his life encourages people to do the wrong thing. I lived this life with him and I believe it should never have been portrayed to the public like it has been done in this book. Though he was my father and I respect him for that role he did a lot of hurt to a lot of people, mainly his family. Is there a reason why the hurt has to be relived? The book is not what it appears to be on the front cover, one big happy family. I would be careful to not have your children read it. It’s content is to be equaled with X – rated material.  

posted by ADHAH on August 5, 2013

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    Want questions answered? Read this book!

    I remember reading some of the newspaper accounts back when the Pilgrim Family first came to McCarthy. Since I personally know some of the Hales, I always wondered how they found the courage to finally speak out against their father, and set their family free from his tyranny and abuse. This book does a great job of answering a lot of those questions. Good read!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Papa Pilgrim kept his family under close control by the use of

    Papa Pilgrim kept his family under close control by the use of his version of Christianity and violence, even incest. It is fascinating and frightening but it is hard to stop reading it. Alas, it is all true. If you like books like true crime novels; if you like reading outdoor adventure stories; then this book is for you. There is not a boring page to be found.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2013

    Well-written story of an extremely disturbing man who wields his

    Well-written story of an extremely disturbing man who wields his religion against his family and neighbors as it serves his purpose. It also serves to give the reader insight into the Alaska frontier mentality that served his evil purposes. 

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2013

    Recommended, especially for current and past Alaskans.

    I was living in Alaska when much of this story occurred and remember the emotions and opinions that were frequently expressed when Alaskans gathered. What a tragic life these children and their mother endured. How they survived is amazing and shows just how strong the human spirit is. The author did a good job of describing the Alaskan wilderness and the subsistence lifestyle that is embraced by many of the citizens there. The start was a little slow, and I had to plow through the back story, but the rest of the read was well worth the time.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2014

    Recommended

    Factual, fair account of a family's development from blind submission to their father's hypocritical authority to freedom to choose their own values. In their pursuit of a primitive lifestyle the Pilgrim family became the eye of a rising storm between the National Park Service and Alaskan landholders. This book will engage the reader on a psychological, religious, and a political level, affording much food for thought. It caused me to examine my personal growth from a wilderness hippie in the 70's to an assimilated teacher in mainstream society.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2013

    Great read, enjoyed the ending.

    I felt the book took a little while to get to the main plot of the story,yet it remained interesting throughout, and the ending was fitting for the story. Good book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Great non-fiction!

    Interesting story of a man who was able to get his family and neighbors to believe in his religious beliefs, until it became violent for his wife and children.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

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    Posted August 22, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

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