Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air

A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Book - 1997
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National Bestseller 

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air , Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

By writing Into Thin Air , Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons and lay to rest some of the painful questions that still surround the event. He takes great pains to provide a balanced picture of the people and events he witnessed and gives due credit to the tireless and dedicated Sherpas. He also avoids blasting easy targets such as Sandy Pittman, the wealthy socialite who brought an espresso maker along on the expedition. Krakauer's highly personal inquiry into the catastrophe provides a great deal of insight into what went wrong. But for Krakauer himself, further interviews and investigations only lead him to the conclusion that his perceived failures were directly responsible for a fellow climber's death. Clearly, Krakauer remains haunted by the disaster, and although he relates a number of incidents in which he acted selflessly and even heroically, he seems unable to view those instances objectively. In the end, despite his evenhanded and even generous assessment of others' actions, he reserves a full measure of vitriol for himself.

This updated trade paperback edition of Into Thin Air includes an extensive new postscript that sheds fascinating light on the acrimonious debate that flared between Krakauer and Everest guide Anatoli Boukreev in the wake of the tragedy.  "I have no doubt that Boukreev's intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in the postscript, dated August 1999. "What disturbs me, though, was Boukreev's refusal to acknowledge the possibility that he made even a single poor decision. Never did he indicate that perhaps it wasn't the best choice to climb without gas or go down ahead of his clients." As usual, Krakauer supports his points with dogged research and a good dose of humility. But rather than continue the heated discourse that has raged since Into Thin Air 's denouncement of guide Boukreev, Krakauer's tone is conciliatory; he points most of his criticism at G. Weston De Walt, who coauthored The Climb , Boukreev's version of events. And in a touching conclusion, Krakauer recounts his last conversation with the late Boukreev, in which the two weathered climbers agreed to disagree about certain points. Krakauer had great hopes to patch things up with Boukreev, but the Russian later died in an avalanche on another Himalayan peak, Annapurna I.

In 1999, Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters--a prestigious prize intended "to honor writers of exceptional accomplishment."  According to the Academy's citation, "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.  His account of an ascent of Mount Everest has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind."
Publisher: New York : Villard, c1997
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780385494786
9780385492089
0385492081
9780679457527
0679457526
Branch Call Number: 796.522095496 Kra 359403 1
Characteristics: xx, 293 p. : ill

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AL_HOLLYR Aug 23, 2017

Thrilling survival tale of a disastrous Everest summit attempt. Highly recommended for any extreme adventure or mountaineering fans.

AL_KELSEY Feb 15, 2017

I read this book after I watched the newest Everest movie, and felt I needed even more information. This book was incredibly compelling. I was awed and terrified by Everest, and the people that climbed up this fateful May. I'm now obsessed with Everest stories, and Krakauer is an incredibly gifted writer. For anyone that wants to know what happened on Mount Everest with one of the most talented and well-known guides, I highly suggest getting this title immediately.

e
edvolk
Nov 18, 2016

There are at least 3 others who were on the mountain at the same time as the author who wrote books about their experiences. All in part blame Krakauer for the events that he writes about. Some of the things he says appear to be untrue as well. Please read Lou Kasischke's book or Anatoli Boukreev's book for a different take on the disaster.

AL_ALICIA Aug 09, 2016

The best non-fiction in my opinion is the kind that reels you in like a great novel. Krakauer has an excellent knack for true storytelling and this book being founded in his own experiences on Everest during such a great tragedy had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Whether you like mountaineering or not, this book is not to be missed.

y
ylkcls
Jul 19, 2016

This story was very touching!

e
Ethan_Annis
Jul 13, 2016

Why do people climb tall mountains, where the air is so thin that humans are not evolved to survive? Krakauer’s narrative, which reads like a thriller, attempts to answer this question. Into Thin Air chronicles the author’s ascent of Mt. Everest in 1996. From Krakauer’s team of five climbers who reached the summit, he was the only survivor. The rest were killed by a rogue storm. Others who climbed Everest during the same season were also killed. Krakauer describes the “summit fever,” greed and poverty that led to the deaths. What I find so compelling about Into Thin Air is that at some level it is about drive and hubris. It illuminates a normally dark part of the human condition by showing what motivates humans to go to extreme means for an almost meaningless end. Since Krakauer was on the expeditions, not an idle observer, the book has a special gravity. I’ve read four books by Krakauer. Into Thin Air is my favorite and Into the Wild is a close second.

m
missshaw
Jul 11, 2016

Even though I am not a climber, it is one of my favorite books.

KCLSHope Apr 14, 2016

Fascinating, horrifying, riveting. Jon Krakauer, a Seattle native and avid mountaineer, takes you along on his harrowing journey to the summit of Mount Everest; some of his compatriots make it back to base camp while others ... well, they're still on the mountain.

Fast paced and pulse-pounding reading.

piyushdixit Mar 21, 2016

Really wonderful book! You get hooked onto it very quickly and you don't even have to understand climbing lingo for it. I would say it is a must read. Most impressive and surprising thing is the emotions and intent that the author noted in the book when he was part of the group facing hypoxia and other issues.

k
KWALKER101
Mar 14, 2016

Overall a compelling story. I am not a climber myself and admire those who push themselves for it, and feel that the author really pulled on all his memories and resources for writing a story that was accurate to the challenges the climbers faced and how they dealt with the disaster and death they found on Mt. Everest. Climbing it is no joke, and I really felt the sorrow and loss that the author was trying to convey. Definitely worth a read.

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yuweizheng Aug 18, 2013

Into Thin Air is a novel about a real adventure and the story is told from the point of view of a witness Jon Krakauer, a journalist who is one of the climbers to reach the summit in 1996.

notTom Dec 16, 2010

This modern classic of the adventure genre is a first-hand narrative of the storm atop Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth, which led to the death of eight people in May of 1996. Written only months after it happened, Outside magazine journalist and dedicated mountain climber Jon Krakauer relates the tragic journey to the summit of Everest, led by celebrated guide Rob Hall with granite-like resolve. To provide context, Krakauer evokes the storied history of climbing on Everest and the dangerous yet immensely rewarding art of mountain climbing in general. This Pulitzer Prize finalist is filled with gritty power and clear eloquence: it is an account of both grandeur and loss.

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