Pilgrim's Wilderness

Pilgrim's Wilderness

A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

Book - 2013
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The true story of how Robert "Papa Pilgrim" Hale and his 15-child self-named Pilgrim family came to settle deep in one of the most remote parts of Alaska, motivated by a belief that a simple pioneer life could be lived there in the 21st century. Celebrated by locals for his anti-establishment ways, Hale was eventually exposed as a cult leader-like sociopath with an extraordinary criminal past who brutalised his wife and children and kept them isolated, ignorant, and under his control.Pilgrim's Wilderness combines a portrait of Hale, from his early life in the countercultural '60s through his latter years as the messianic Christian "Papa Pilgrim" (who would employ beatings, psychological torture, and sexual abuse to rule over his children), with an examination of how the Pilgrim family was at first embraced by Alaskans who were flattered by the way Papa Pilgrim embodied their own pioneer myths, before any hints of trouble emerged.
Publisher: New York :, Crown Publishers,, [2013]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780307587824
Branch Call Number: 979.805 KIZ
Characteristics: xx, 309 pages : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm


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Sep 08, 2018

A true story about the devil incarnate! This was not an easy read, had to put it down a few times. I was thankful to see, that in the end, the children and their mother were able to stand against the monster, with help from others. A scary, scary book--if you want to see how the devil steals, kills and destroys, read it.

Aug 31, 2018

Very good book, well structured. Really liked the way the story was told.

Jul 26, 2016

Not a fun read. The subtitle suggest this book might be uplifting, but actually it is a reasonably well written tale of an abusive father of a large dysfunctional family. Informative, possibly thought provoking, not heartwarming

Jun 29, 2015

I had to slog through this one. It had a lot of detail where it didn't need to. It reminded me some of Krakauer, but less action/adventure. It is much more interesting and faster-moving towards the end. I liked the way it ended - the author did a great job pulling the story all together at the end. Readers who have ever been to Alaska may appreciate this book more, too. Ironically, it was recommended to me by my father (an avid reader, and an atheist). Worth the read, but not teriffic.

Aug 17, 2014

When Papa Pilgrim appears in tiny McCarthy, Alaska, with his very pregnant wife and 15 kids, at first the neighbors are entranced. They seem the ideal of Christian homespun, and plan to homestead. McCarthy needs more people, so welcomes them. Within weeks, Pilgrim is bulldozing a road that may or may not be on his property line, his sons threaten the townspeople and Park Rangers (his property's in a National Park) who want to check the line and determine the health of the youngest children. Kizzia, a McCarthy native and journalist, digs into the past of the man who calls himself Pilgrim. His research discovers some highly disturbing details in "Pilgrim's" background that account for his retreat to a place where he believes he won't be followed. The story of domestic abuse finally has a happy ending, as one of the daughters has enormous courage, escapes, and tells, though the father has threatened death to any of them who do. Interestingly, Dana Stabenow used this true story in one of her Kate Shugak mysteries. A page turner, though sometimes so disturbing I had to put it down for a bit.

Feb 10, 2014

A sad true story of a father calling himself Pilgrim who ruled his large family (a wife and 15 children) like a cult leader. The story ends up as a horrifying detailed description of family domestic violence. And although he made his family live like pioneers with almost no contact with the outside world, Pilgrim was actually on the periphery of fame, or infamy, twice in his life before the truth of his abuse of his family overshadowed all else. Interesting but depressing story, while in the end uplifting in the hope found by the abused survivors.

Jan 08, 2014

Truth is definitely stranger than fiction. This is a fascinating read of a very disturbed man who wielded unbelievable power over his poor wife and many children in the wilds of Alaska, where no one would defy him. Very well written by a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News. I couldn't put it down, and it still haunts me.

Dec 14, 2013

This is an amazing story that I couldn't put down. I highly recommend it.

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