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Paperback Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Book

ISBN: 0385494785

ISBN13: 9780385494786

Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

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...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A Review of the "Illustrated Version of Into Thin Air"

This review is to help people understand the differences between the paperback version of Mr. Krakauer's book and the 'illustrated' version. (So much has been written about the content, that it hardly seems worth putting down my own paltry thoughts about Jon's Everest adventure.) The first difference, of course, is the size. The 'illustrated' version is 9.1 x 8.8 inches, and is about 1 inch thick. Hardback, the book weighs 3.5 pounds, which is to say it's pretty hefty. The cover, unfortunately, is not all that attractive. It's white with a fabric texture, and adorning it is one of Randy Rackliff's images. Unlike the other abstracts by this artist that appear in black and white at the beginning of the chapters in all the different versions of this book, the cover art is in blue and is raised. Personally, I think something else should have been chosen, or else the image should have been much larger. Buts lets look inside. Between the covers there are some wonderful photos. Some are small pictures of various climbers -- old and new. And some are panoramic vistas. None are in color. I have some thoughts about that. First, given the number of photos, it just might have been prohibitively expensive to have color. And then again, given the fact that snow is white and mountains are gray and brown, it might have taken away from the beauty and staggeringly menacing rockfaces, to have guys in dayglo orange outfits standing in the foreground and snagging the attention of your eyes. In any case, what you should take away from this part of the review is that there is no color. So how many black and white photos are there? Generally speaking there is at least, on average, one per page. There are pictures of men such as Andrew Irvin and Edward Norton, and there are pictures such as that of the southface of Annapoura. In addition there are some maps and charts. As far as I was able to ascertain all text-content was the same. All in all, I thought the pictures were important to my appreciation of the story that was told. It's one thing to imagine what such and such camp looked like, and another to see it. If I was to own a copy of this book for my home library, then this is the version I'd be likely to buy. (I compared library versions). As far as a gift, I don't know. While it's a great book and the pictures are great, the cover is just unimpressive. So I suppose it would depend on the friend. Pam T~

How to tell the truth at 29,000 feet

By and large, the negative reviews posted here have little to do with the quality of this book and almost everything to do with the presumed character of the writer, Jon Krakauer. Similarly, those who dislike Krakauer's Into the Wild tend to focus their judgment of the book's worth on their own feelings regarding the essay's subject, Christopher McCandless, the young man who traveled the Western United States and Mexico for two years before perishing in Alaska. I read Krakauer differently. I am not interested in Krakauer's liberal politics, his emotional instability, and variable maturity. I am not interested in whether he portrays the absolute truth in his account of the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster for the simple fact that I don't believe the truth can be told. Writing is a very poor substitute for a frostbitten finger or a hypoxic head. All we have is Krakauer's writing, so let's look at what he does as a writer. 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? Perhaps some readers want a quiet truth about what happened on the mountain, but this is to ask the impossible since every climber is guaranteed to have a different story and different perceptions of similar experiences--none of which are altogether true and none of which are altogether lies. And when he/she goes to tell about it, pieces of reality will inevitably be missed and left forgotten on the mountain. Emotions will well up and color an event with bias. Egos will peek from behind a boulder and whisper truths and nonsense. No writer can make sense of all of that, but Krakauer has tried, and largely succeeded, to give the reader an idea of what it was like on Mt. Everest in late spring 1996. He may or may not have retraced every path exactly, but he acts as a good guide. He welcomes the reader to disagree with him and simultaneously makes a bold and convincing case. He admits a myriad of his own mistakes and points out the mistakes of others. I'm impressed mostly with the balanced feel of his account. For example, much is made of Krakauer's portrayal of Anatoli Boukreev's actions on the mountain. Those who read Krakauer as blaming Boukreev for the deaths of some climbers must not have closely read the many times Krakauer praises Boukreev's numerous heroic actions. By telling of both the shameful and heroic actions of Boukreev--all told from Krakauer's self-admitted hypoxic state--I find that Krakauer

Page by Page Suspense

Even if you already know the story of the deadly Mt. Everest expeditions of 1996, you will appreciate Jon Krakauer's own first person account of the Adventure Consultants and the Mountain Madness groups. Both of these expeditions were led by well-seasoned Everest climbers---Rob Hall from New Zealand and Scott Fischer from the States--and had the aid of expert guides, Sherpas from Nepal and "outsiders". But we soon find that even these experienced people are not immune from the human frailties of greed, denial and self-serving. Those Achilles' heels will cause both expeditions to completely fall apart. At the same time, human error combined with the unforgiving terrors of high altitude climbing sets the scene for heroism in many of the climbers and crew.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."


Jon Krakauer's narrative of the 1996 disaster on Mt. Everest is excellently written and extremely engrossing. Although the events are true, the book reads like a top action/adventure thriller, keeping us turning pages until the end. This is definitely a first-person account, though, and Krakauer makes sure the attention is centered on him, as he alternately extolls his virtues and reveals his faults. I felt extremely saddened when reading this book and I think we must look closely at how and why this tragedy happened. I cannot help but fault, in part, the two guides, Hall and Fischer. Both were experienced climbers and both had previously been on Everest. As guides, these men were running a business for profit and were desirous of satisfied customers--that meant making the summit. But these two men had also accepted the responsibility of caring for their clients' safety, as well as for the safety of those in expeditions not their own. The fact that they ignored self-imposed turn-around times simply cannot be forgiven. Ultimately, however, each person must take responsibility for his or her own actions. Technically, Everest is an easy climb, but the physical demands are enormous. The bulk of climbers were untrained, unfamiliar with their equipment, and simply not in the top physical condition needed to withstand the rigors of high-altitude climbing, a fact of which they certainly must have been aware. And if they weren't, then certainly Hall and Fischer were. Many of the previous reviewers have faulted the climbers for turning their backs on Beck Wethers and Yasuko Namba, but once you have actually engaged in high-altitude climbing, as I have done, you know Everest is not the place to become your brother's keeper. No one should have died and had Hall and Fischer turned around, as they should have, in all probability no one would have. Into Thin Air is a fascinating tale and one that poses many thought-provoking questions each man and woman must answer, not only on Everest, but in the course of his or her day-to-day life.


Having never understood why people climb mountains, and after seeing Beck Weathers on 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. You'll feel the frigid wind, the snow, the ice, the pain, the desperation, the sorrow, the regrets. The "if only's" will torture your soul just as they have and continue to torture Jon's. He writes in such a way you will have no choice other than to join him on that mountain. You'll meet and get to know the members and guides of Rob Hall's team as well as Scott Fischer, his guides, and some of his team members whom you will respect even though you may not like. Unfortunately, not everyone on the mountain was a "good guy" ... you'll be livid thanks to the danger the teams encounter due to the inexperience, egos, arrogance, and ruthlessness of the few "bad apples". For the survivors, Jon's book is an avenue in which fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, and other loved ones are portrayed as the heroes they were. Although some of the deceased's relatives were upset with Krakauer, it will seem unjust because of the respectful way in which he depicts his fellow mountaineers and the Sherpas.
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