|Print List Price:||$16.95|
|Kindle Price:|| $13.99 |
Save $2.96 (17%)
|Sold by:|| Random House LLC |
Price set by seller.
Your Memberships & Subscriptions
Follow the Author
Into Thin Air Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
"A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism." —PEOPLE
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.
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."
--Galen Rowell, The Wall Street Journal
"I have no doubt that Boukreev's intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in a postscript dated August 1998. "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 a avalanche on another Himalayan peak, Annapurna I. Krakauer further buries the ice axe by donating his share of royalties from sales of The Illustrated Edition to the Everest '96 Memorial Fund, which aids various environmental and humanitarian charities. --Rob McDonald--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B000FC1ITK
- Publisher : Anchor; 1st edition (November 12, 1998)
- Publication date : November 12, 1998
- Language : English
- File size : 4969 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 368 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 0307475255
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #17,069 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on November 1, 2018
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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.
Because of these risk-takers, the reader in turn is treated to a gripping interesting memoir by Mr. Krakauer for his efforts. There were oodles of dangers involved beyond falling to your death. Climbing to such heights could lead to altitude-related illnesses, constantly being lightheaded and fighting to breath, excruciating headaches, dramatic muscle loss, nausea, wild fluctuations in emotions, frostbite, inadequate sleep, dysentery, vomiting, hypothermia, hallucinations, and being crushed by falling rocks or building-sized ice chunks. ‘Into Thin Air’ corrected many of my presumptions about the size of Everest’s Base Camp, the nature of Sherpas, the history of prior Mt. Everest climbers, and the economic impact on the region due to so many people wanting to climb the damn thing. Mr. Krakauer also spends time giving brief biographies of quite a number of the people in his and other expeditions on the mountain at the same they were on it. Once the storm hits the team while at or near the top of Everest, I could not pull away from the story. The book includes eight pages of black-and-white photographs. The 1999 edition of ‘Into Thin Air’ includes a Postscript where the author convincingly rebuts criticism of his book by one of the other climbers on the expedition who felt his reputation had been maligned by Mr. Krakauer. The journalist has also gone to write six other well-received nonfiction books at the time of this review.
At no time while reading ‘Into Thin Air’ did I think, “Gee, that seems like a lot of fun.” One of the excerpts at the beginning of a chapter states by Walt Unsworth that the American public has no inherent national sympathy for mountain climbing, unlike the Alpine countries of Europe, or the British, who invented the sport. Americans did not accept such reckless risk of life. Speaking as a near-sixty-year-old, couch potato American, that’s a fair assessment. Mr. Krakauer has written an absorbing honest memoir and it understandably left the journalist with psychological scars because of what happened up there. If you have an itch to attempt such a feat, I advise you stick to indoor rock climbing and pretend the wall is Mt. Everest.
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.
Top reviews from other countries
To his credit Krakauer does not shy away from his own mistakes and responsibilities, though does reinforce the ever person for themselves attitude that he also decries. There is speculation about motives and actions that he could not have been party to, but they do not necessarily feel unreasonable. There is tragedy with this, in his mistaken reporting of Harold being alive and then in the way he likely does, causing more pain for the family, but this was done with the best of intentions.
Not a justification of action, or inaction, but an explanation, one that is perhaps hard to completely accept without the experience of being above 8,000m, but is nonetheless compelling and convincing.
Critical of the lack of relevant climbing experience of the other members of the group, his own does not seem that impressive for the scale of challenge presented by Everest.
Self reflective, and enlightening, the reader cannot help but feel drawn to the personalities as the tragedy unfolds, and poor decision making compounds to big impacts.
A must read for anyone who wants to understand more about the 1996 tragedy.
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.
Peppered throughout are references to mountaineers of yore which had me going down the Wikipedia rabbit hole more than once. Although climbing Everest isn't on my bucket list, I find stories of how people push themselves to their physical and mental limits compelling and inspiring. However, Krakauer's account of what happened on May 10 and how four climbers from his team tragically came to lose their lives - the crux of this book - was of course difficult to read.
Much has been made of his criticism of Sandy Pittman and Anatoli Boukreev, but I felt his portrayal of both of them was on the whole handled fairly. Many on the mountain that day made poor decisions in extreme circumstances that led to the final outcome. Krakauer himself doesn't shy away from his own culpability, although it clearly haunts him and must have been painful to write about publicly. If I were to have any criticism of this book, it would be that Krakauer's perception of his abilities and that of others came across at times as hubristic. Whilst I don't refute that many - too many - people attempt Everest without qualified experience (and the mountain has claimed many of those lives), the way Krakauer writes about his own abilities versus that of others felt a little arrogant to me. I also got a little lost later in the book on who was who, which left me puzzled for a while. However neither of these points detract from the fact that this book well and truly got under my skin.
I don't give five stars often and I'm not the most avid reader of non-fiction, but this has been one of my surprise reads this year and I would read it again. I'm considering reading Beck Weathers' book now - that truly is a story of survival.
After the first half of the book there are two passages where it is apparent that Mr Krakauer was so focussed on ticking off his bucket list for Everest that, in his self centered, parochial view he actually left behind two of his fellow climbers to their own fate on the mountain when they desperately needed his help. One of them died and the other (who was snowblind) lost half of his face and limbs to frostbite.
As far as Mr Boukreev is concerned, he was a climber par excellence who commanded respect from his peers. Even Mr Krakauer has acknowledged this on page 130 (of the pan macmillan edition I'm reading) ..... " but four luminaries stood out even in this distinguished company-- climbers who demonstrated such astonishing prowess above 26000 feet that they were in a league of their own: Ed Viesturs, the American who was starring in the IMAX film; Anatoli Boukreev, a guide from Kazakhstan working for Fischer; Ang Babu Sherpa, who was employed by the South African expedition ; and Lopsang."
I'd like to point out here that while Mr Krakauer grants Mr. Boukreev certain strength, his characterisation (of Boukreev) is vastly sketchy and criticisms factually unfounded.
Now picture this: imagine a place that tries your endurance like no other place does. A place where you're fragile, vulnerable and weak both physically and mentally. Now imagine a paid gun who, like it or not follows you like a shadow and scribbles away your life for millions to read of HIS version of what HE makes of you when you're at your lowest--this is not only weird but IMHO morally wrong as well. I'd definitely freak out if it happened to me.
It goes without saying that Boukreev was a pure climber with immense strength of character and fortitude who did not have writing assignments, book sales, critical acclaim from peers or a soaring bank balance in mind when he wore his pair of trekking shoes. In fact he died pursuing his passion. God bless his soul.