- File Size: 3995 KB
- Print Length: 368 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307475255
- Publisher: Anchor; 1st edition (November 12, 1998)
- Publication Date: November 12, 1998
- Sold by: Random House LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000FC1ITK
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,957 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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--Galen Rowell, The Wall Street Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
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 guideAnatoli 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 afterchallenging 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."
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However, I must note that the book itself - or rather, the Outlook article which was responsible for Krakauer's presence on this expedition in the first place - is the real reason so many people died on the mountain that day. Had the expedition leaders not been competing for the attention of Outlook readers, this probably would not have happened; they were seasoned veterans of the mountain and would not, I am sure, made such an elementary mistake as not turning back by the agreed hour. This proved fatal for several people. Krakauer, to his eternal shame, tried to blame this debacle on the other group's Russian guide. Who, as he admits, went out in a blizzard on his own to save his clients and brought them down single-handed. And showed a lot more empathy than Krakauer himself.
That said, I have read no book on mountaineering that better describes the emotions and physical sensations of being in this punishing environment. f you want a powerful 'Rashomon' tale for our times, read this book in tandem with Anatoli Boukreev's /Weston DeWalt's The Climb. They depict the same story but with a very different perspective, and the story itself never gets anything less than fascinating.
Wish i hadnt gotten his book and wonder why anyone in their right mind would think Krakauer is any more believable than others.
Krakauer saved 0, Anatoli saved 3.
Math is math, numbers dont lie. People do.
However, I rated this as three star simply because I feel the author is condescending and snobby. Yes, he climbed the mountain and very few people will ever even see it, much less climb it.
But I just walked away thinking he thinks he’s better than everyone else. Now that the adventure is over, i understand it might be difficult to get back to normal life, but I just didn’t think he was someone I’d care to talk to at a party.
Top international reviews
For me, this book helped me understand why people enjoy 'extreme' mountaineering and did explain the draw Everest has on people. I actually found the history of it - from being named the tallest mountain on Earth, to her naming and the repeated attempts to summit, really interesting.
As to whether this book and the film accurately portray the disaster... I will say the film mostly matches this book, and the author makes it clear that this is how he viewed the events, that he was not operating at peak efficiency and that a lot of people made small mistakes which added up to make the disaster.
The book is well written, and for the most part is measured. It mixes analytical with personal to great effect. Though it isn't a happy read it is an interesting one and I'd recommend this to people interested in the film, the mountain, or the sport of climbing.
Debate still rages about some differences in subsequent accounts of events that day. Particularly, the part Anatoli Boukreev (Fischer's chief guide) played in helping/hindering the unfolding situation. Krakauer offers some fairly mild criticism regarding Boukreev's decision to ascend without supplementary oxygen, suggesting his guiding performance would have been greatly enhanced with it; Boukreev, for instance, may not have felt the need to descend so urgently, ahead of the clients behind him.
It is somewhat damning criticism, I guess, however carefully phrased. And it does rather heap a lot of guilt on one man. A man who did, in the end, rescue 3 clients single-handed. Perhaps Krakauer could have left these sort of judgements to the reader, because the facts themselves, as Krakauer has documented, have not been substantively challenged.
The emphasis though, correctly, in my opinion, remains on the botched organisation and questionable decision-making of the two expedition leaders, Hall and Fischer. And, in fairness, Krakauer even goes on to acknowledge his own impact as client/journalist as another detrimental factor: the press coverage a massive incentive for Hall and Fischer to take risks to succeed.
It's a shame about the bitter, back-biting aftermath. Krakauer himself not immune to it - calling the film version, 'total bull'. Objecting, principally, to the scene where Krakauer refuses to assist Boukreev in the rescue effort due to exhaustion and snow-blindness. Krakauer claims it never happened.
Understandably, a raw and damaging experience to process for all those who survived - a crazy, ego bound, foolhardy quest, in the first place? Whatever your view, Krakauer's account is utterly compelling, demanding much pause for thought.
I don't have any particular interest in mountaineering (although Amazon seems to want me to read EVERY book about Everest now that I've purchased one!), I just like a non-fiction now and again.
This book gives more insight into the back-story of the mountaineers and their motivations to scale Everest, the history of the Everest mountaineering and helps to really appreciate the problems that can happen at high altitude.
I would highly recommend.
This book is outstanding, even to this day the story is haunting and really makes you think and feel what it must have been like to be up on the mountain in that very terrible year.
I have read several books on this now, but what I like about this one is the authors struggle in a way to deal with their own personal judgements and decisions that may have affected other people up on the mountain.
It was sadly a very truly haunting set of events and bad luck in this particular year, but also for me too many people on the mountain all trying to get to the top.
A fantastic book. You will not be disappointed in this one!
Also in a book where there are lots of names, switching between addressing them by first name and last name, between neighbouring sentences, is bloody stupid and confusing.
A short video on this topic will give you everything you need. Some bits were good and was interesting to learn about climbing Everest as someone whose knowledge only covered the fact it is the tallest mountain in the world.
For a historian, the narrative offers the opportunity to identify just why this happened (a myriad of factors), before the author offers his conclusions.
There are even unexpected detours into the history of Sherpa culture, the history of mountaineering on Everest; all of which are relevant.
The author simply deserves the success, as almost every moment of this is - gasp- put down the book, think about what’s just happened. It’s a very real experience.
Highly recommended if you are interested in the subject.
I have always been fascinated by mountain climbing documentaries and movies. There is something reassuring about watching others struggle with the elements and their own strengths and weaknesses from the comfort of your recliner while you wonder what you yourself would do under similar circumstances. However this book was different, it was impossible to remain detached from the people you met as you turned each page and so their desperate situation had a real effect on me. One thing struck me as particularly horrifying. I had no idea that so many of those that have died on Everest are still there. Reading about climbers calmly walking past or even stepping over the frozen corpse of another human being who had died several years or even decades before gave me the shudders. It seems that when it comes to this mountain nothing matters except getting to the top even if it means you end up another casualty who may end up being passed by future generations of climbers eager to get to the top of the world. This is a fantastic book written by a man who is not afraid to question his own part in the disaster. You won't be able to put it down.
I bought the book having thoroughly enjoyed the film ‘Everest’. I spent about an hour after watching the film googling more facts about the expedition so buying a book by one of the party was a natural progression.
This book is absolutely brilliant and the style of writing makes it a real page turner.
The facts surrounding this expedition are fascinating albeit tragic, some of the historic content re Everest climbs is also really interesting.
Well worth a read - I’ve already ordered one of his other books!!
Interestingly, the author doesn't spare himself from some harsh self-examination and has the stones to make public his own assessment of his failures.
Into Thin Air is, I think, a classic account relating to how even small things going wrong, can all pile up to cause carnage, when the margins between survival and death are so wafer thin.