Review: Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal, by Harold Schechter

Alfred G. Packer was a prospector in 1873, who, with 5 other men, became lost in the Colorado Rockies during the winter. Six men went out into the wilderness, but only Packer returned, and he returned with a gruesome tale of murder and madness.

Man-Eater tells the story of Packer and what happened during those winter months in the wilderness, as well as his trials and incarceration. Schechter also mixes in other similar tales of murder as the book progresses. I’m torn about how much I like the inclusion of the other narratives, though, because, without them, the book could be a lot shorter, and just be straightforward and to the point. But with them, especially in this case, it almost gives perspective to the story as to how many people were committing murder and then doing the things that Packer was accused of.

I listened to the audiobook of this book, narrated by Eric G. Dove, and it was awesome. His narration of the book was so natural that I felt like he was meant to be reading that book. Like the book was written just for him to read it.

This book is NOT for the faint of heart. It is graphic enough that I almost gave up reading it several times just because it was so gruesome. But I don’t know whether Schechter did that for shock value or simply because he was relating the facts. Either way, the facts are shockingly gruesome, and I HIGHLY recommend at least not eating while reading/listening. Perhaps not reading/listening alone in the dark, either, I don’t know. Honestly, the ONLY reason that I kept reading the book at all is that I so admire Harold Schechter’s writing style. I really feel that had the author been anyone else, I would have put this in my DNF pile. However, the way that the narrative is put together is, as I have come to expect from Schechter, very well done, very thorough and quite interesting, so I was willing to put up with the gruesome details.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.


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