Pilgrim's Wilderness - "a true look at an escapist nightmare in America's mythic and fading frontier"

Joe Mozingo of the LA Times reviewed the nonfiction book Pilgrim's Wilderness - A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier. It's about a religious wacko in the vein of the father The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver.

in 2002 Papa Pilgrim, his wife, and their 14 children moved into an abandoned copper mining camp in an isolated part of the Alaskan wilderness. Most people avoided them, but a curious Anchorage Daily News reporter named Tom Kizzia began visiting them to find out what their story was.

From Mozingo's review:

Papa Pilgrim, born as Bobby Hale in Fort Worth, has an unexpected and fascinating back story. Who in Alaska could have guessed he was implicated in a 1962 break-in of Judith Exner's apartment as part of a scheme to blackmail President John F. Kennedy? Or that he went to school with Lee Harvey Oswald and John Denver? Or that he lived on land in New Mexico owned by Jack Nicholson?

All of this and the title of the book, however, doesn't quite hint at the darkness of Pilgrim's story, which we glimpse early on when he is alone with his first wife, as she somehow fatally shoots herself in the back of the head with a 20-gauge shotgun. And it gets only worse as he moves on to a new wife and family and seals them off from the outside world to rule as he sees fit. In one scene, he whips his sons over a barrel while forcing his wife to hold them, and if that weren't sordid enough, he does this to secretly extort his oldest daughter into sleeping with him.

Pilgrim's Wilderness a harrowing tale of isolation

Pilgrim's Wilderness on Amazon