Jon Krakauer is a contemporary nonfiction author who focuses on individuals driven to action by their extreme beliefs. The men he chooses to profile in his books typically adhere to their own set of values including the determination to excel, which leads them to be single-minded and stubbornly passionate. In the book Where Men Win Glory, Krakauer profiles Pat Tillman, a passionate man who joins the army because his family had previously served and he, too, wanted to honor his country. Tillman’s family and friends discourage him from joining, but he does so despite their arguments against it. Krakauer characterizes Tillman as man with a stringent moral code that includes always defending those weaker than himself. Because of this, Tillman is extraordinary but also sometimes blind to the reality that just because you give help to others, you will not necessarily receive help in return. Tillman strived for perfection in his efforts to meet his own set of standards; however, he becomes a tragic hero when he is shot by friendly fire in battle, and the army lies about his death to the nation in order to protect their reputation.
Theodore Roosevelt, like Pat Tillman, embraced masculinity and thirsted for new and exciting adventures. For many American men at the turn of the twentieth century, masculinity meant hunting, succeeding in competitions and exercising authority as father figures. One of Roosevelt’s motivations for the Amazon journey was his defeat in the presidential election of 1912. Devastated at his loss to Wilson, he sought a chance to prove his masculinity and his self worth. During Roosevelt’s expedition through the Amazon, he endured many hardships, including a fever and undergoing surgery for an abscess on his leg. Despite the challenges he faced, Roosevelt continued his expedition. He demonstrated positive characteristics of compassion and patience. Roosevelt, his son Kermit and the comrades felt mutual respect for one another. Even while ill during the expedition, Roosevelt persevered selflessly in protecting his comrades from harm. Roosevelt sought the challenge of the Amazon expedition to display his masculinity, demonstrate his abilities, and prove his self worth.
Major Works Consulted:
Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air. New York: Anchor, 1997.
Photo Credit: Krakauer, Jon. Into Thin Air. New York: Anchor, 1997.
--. Where Men Win Glory. New York: Anchor, 2009.
Millard, Candice. The River of Doubt. New York: Doubleday, 2005.
Roosevelt, Theodore. Through the Brazilian Wilderness. New York: Charles Scribner, 1920.