John Eldredge updated Wild At Heart for 2010. It was first written in 2001.
I first read the book in 2007. I taught a class on the book at my church for the fall quarter of 2008.
The book is written from a Christian perspective. With his wife, John Eldredge wrote a version of the book for women called Captivating. For non-Christian readers, I don’t believe the book was overly evangelistic. You may find it helpful.
The premise of Wild At Heart is that the church, as it exists today, teaches men that their ultimate aim as Christian men is to be “really nice guys”. Secular society doesn’t do much better, as it seeks to feminize and emasculate men. John Eldredge makes his case that Adam was created in the wilderness, then brought into the Garden, where Eve was taken from his rib. This means that man has something wild in his heart, and he spends his life trying to recapture it. John says that every man has 3 needs:
- A Battle to Fight
- An Adventure to Live
- A Beauty to Rescue
He also says that every man asks the same question: “Do I have what it takes?” Every many also carries a wound, usually inflicted by his father (or the lack of a present father). He often looks to the wrong places for the answer to his question. His mother cannot answer it, nor can his wife. Seeking the answer from these can cause more harm.
He then lays out the enemy, the strategy, the beauty, and the adventure, and urges the reader to write the next chapter.
John Eldredge uses movies and literature for illustrations for his point.
Many reviewers complain that the book is little more than an urge to be over-macho, with its constant references to mountain climbing and horseback riding. John Eldredge claims that is not the point, but some readers can’t get past it. I personally have no urge to climb a mountain or camp or hike through bear-infested woods armed with only a whistle. Every time I think about how cool a Jeep looks, I have to remind myself how horrible they drive. But I found the book helpful in some ways.
I compared the 2010 edition against my original 2001 edition. In the text of the book, there are some minor editing revisions. A few paragraphs have been reworded. I found a few new paragraphs in one section, and a few removed in another. The major changes include the addition of an Epilogue, “The Daily Prayer”, “A Prayer for Sexual Healing”, and the except from “The Way of the Wild Heart” has been replaced with an excerpt for “Fathered By God”. If you have the original edition, you shouldn’t need to buy the new one. I got a review copy from Thomas Nelson, the publisher. If you’d like to get free books in exchange for a review, check out Thomas Nelson’s Book Sneeze.