I can understand some people giving this book or the related video only three or four stars; this is one of those stories that depend heavily on the outlook you bring to them. Some might find Proenneke's feat mildly interesting but wonder why he did it. I found it enthralling.
You have to be fascinated by a man who seemed capable of creating almost anything he needed from raw materials using only hand tools. He carves out wooden spoons; builds his log home; turns gas cans into buckets, pots, and in-ground coolers; builds a cache on stilts; works up sturdy door hinges from stumps; and on and on. In our age of repetitive assembly of the same part or being a small cog in a service industry machine, in an age of such specialization even American farmers whose granaries overflow run to the supermarket for bread and then complain about the price, in an age of abundance that comes at the price of over-dependence on others, Richard Proenneke reached a satisfying level of self-reliance now nearly extinct.
I'm reminded of the "Little House on the Prairies" book series in which father Ingalls briefly laments having moved to South Dakota where he was dependent on the railroad trains to bring in food and fuel, compared to the days of self-sufficiency in the woods of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Proenneke's dream isn't for everyone. Imagine trying to do what he did if your skills are incomplete or you have a family to bring up. Living in the middle of wild Alaska would be more suffering than fulfilment. But what a dream to have, in which you turn your back on the rat race and build what you need to live from start to finish, or as Proenneke says "to do a thing to completion." His accomplishments give me daydream release from the tedious grind of bills and mindless work.