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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Paperback – October 19, 1999
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Since the 1980s, more and more "marginally qualified dreamers" have attempted the ascent of Everest, as guided commercial expeditions have dangled the possibility of reaching the roof of the world in front of anyone wealthy enough to pay for the privilege. In 1996, Outside magazine asked Krakauer, a frequent contributor, to write a piece on the commercialization of Everest, and Krakauer signed on as a member of New Zealander Rob Hall's expedition. The disastrous outcome of the 1996 expedition forced Krakauer to write a very different article.
Those who read Krakauer's book may wonder whether the audiobook can possibly shed more light on the unfortunate events. It does. Krakauer's chronicle is chilling and horrifying. He recounts with excruciating detail the physical and mental cost of such a climb. Even under the best of circumstances, each step up the ice-clad mountain is monumentally exhausting, and the oxygen-deprived brain loses the ability to make reliable judgements. And on May 10, 1996, when Hall's expedition and several others made their summit assault, the conditions were far from ideal. The mountain was so "crowded" that climbers had to wait their turn near the summit while their bottled oxygen dwindled by the minute. By afternoon a blinding hurricane-force storm had stranded a number of climbers on the highest, most exposed reaches of the mountain.
By writing and reading 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. (Running time: 467 minutes; six tapes) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
More About the Author
Photos documenting Krakauer's books and non-writing life can be viewed on his personal Instagram account: https://instagram.com/krakauernotwriting/
Top Customer Reviews
Krakauer's account is so compelling because it reads like a book length confession, which it is in a sense. The author worked through his very considerable feelings of survivor's guilt in the book's pages. His descriptions and not inconsiderable opinions have become legendary. For example, how many people read of AOL Chairman Robert Pittman's recent outster from the company and remembered him as the husband of Sandra Hill Pittman, who personified the rich amature climber who buys their way to the top of the world's tallest peak and who has no business being there? Krakauer's descriptions of Mrs. Pittman on the mountain are an example of his simple but devastating observations.
Krakauer's highly readable prose make the book read like fiction, probably another reason why it was so popular. He signed on for the Everest climb intending to write a standard mountaineering magazine article. That he chose the fateful May 1996 climb is simply a rare case of someone being at the wrong place at precisely the right time. Though it caused him plenty of personal torment, it also allowed him to write a story for the ages.
Overall, "Into Thin Air" fantastic storytelling make it one of the best non-fiction books published in the last decade or so.
Krakauer, a journalist who signed on with Hall's expedition to do a story for Outside magazine, doesn't disappoint as weaver of a tale. I took the book everywhere with me while reading it, always eager to find out what would happen next.
If a book that explores deftly our desire to reach an unreachable summit appeals to you....especially when that book does not shy away from the tragedy caused when the desire to reach it undoes common sense and humanity....I highly recommend "Into Thin Air."
Krakauer is a sensationalist journalist, and since he reports on dangerous and near-death experiences regularly, he really can't help being grandiose and spectacular. The subject of his writing demands that he ratchet up the emotional power of his style and word choice. And let's be honest--don't we, as readers, demand it of him as well? Don't we want a voyeuristic and graphic account, where the size, the shape, and the smell of death seem to lift from the pages? Who wants to read about a mountain climbing disaster sans the emotion and the ego it takes to put one's self unnecessarily into such perilous situations?Read more ›
television last year, I bought INTO THIN AIR in order to gain more insight. Krakauer delivered.
Have some time on your hands, because once you begin reading Jon's story depicting the turn of
events throughout his journey on Everest in the Spring of '96, you won't be able to stop reading until you've read the last word in his book. This account of summitting Everest is a page turner even though the outcome is old news. It will leave you wanting to know more about other attempts made
on Everest, both failed and successful.
For those who don't understand why on earth anyone would want to do something as dangerous as
climbing "Into Thin Air" on rock and ice ... this book answers that curiosity. Because Jon introduces his readers to the backgrounds and personalities of the main characters in his book, we can better comprehend the different reasons people spend thousands of dollars and two or more months of their lives in "hell" on a mountain - freezing and injured - 'just to get to the top'. We learn through Krakauer why they continue their ascent even though the conditions are pure torture and more life threatening with each step; why they don't give it up once they've lost feeling in their extremities, separated their ribs, lost their vision, can no longer breathe due to oxygen depleted air, why they don't turn back even when they see the dead who've attempted to reach the summit on prior expeditions. You'll understand because of Krakauer's talent as a writer ... his ability to replay his emotions, his thoughts, his experiences, and his opinions through writing.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the second time I have read "Into Thin Air" and the second time I have devoured it! I literally can't put it down. It is an amazing story by an amazing writer. Read morePublished 21 hours ago by Karen Frost
After seeing the film "Into Thin Air" I wanted to reread the book. I was mesmerized. The story of how every big and small decisiom went wrong, and combined in deadly ways,... Read morePublished 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
This was a great read. I found myself unable to put the book down.Published 3 days ago by David Tidrick
This is not just a story about climbing mountains. It is a story about how egos and bad decisions combined to spell disaster for organized and (mostly) experienced climbing teams... Read morePublished 3 days ago by T. Bragg
This was an interesting account but not what our granddaughter needed for her report. Still, I enjoyed reading it.Published 3 days ago by Gail Patch
Mr. Krakauer is one of my favorite authors. I couldn't put this book down. I suffered along with the poor people on the mountain even though this occurred many years ago.Published 4 days ago by Judy A. Jett