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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER - The epic account of the storm on the summit of Mt. Everest that claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray. A harrowing tale of... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

7 ratings

This book is good for one thing.

And that is for a fire starter (if you keep it dry). Speaking of dry it is practically dusty. I can’t imagine anybody that loves wilderness adventure getting through more than 1/3 of this book, if they get that far. A total waste of money and my time.

Fascinating Read with Issues

This is an utterly fascinating read and it got me into reading all sorts of mountain climbing/adventure books, even though I'm very much an armchair enthusiast. That said, if you read this book, I highly recommend you read The Climb by Anatoly Bourkeev, to get his side of the story. Mr. Krakauer makes him into a villain, but Anatoly single-handedly saved a number of lost climbers, while Jon slept in a tent. I guess that's technically a spoiler, but I want people to understand that there is much more to this story. Additionally, I suggest you read any of the books written by real mountain climbers, i.e., David Breshears, Conrad Anker, Ed Viesturs, Hermann Buhl, etc., to understand what happens in the mountains, when not colored by someone's personal agenda.

Well told non-fiction

What an eye opener this was , from the spoilt rich socialites that are basically dragged up Everest just so they can say "I climbed Everest" to the other end of the scale of the hard core professional climbers that climb without oxygen tanks. Lets not forget the team leaders and guides that help , encourage and save the lives of fellow climbers. Well written book , Jon Krakauer tells a true story in a way that you feel you are climbing there next to him.

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~

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.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Mentions in Our Blog

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster in Moments Today, Memories Tomorrow
Moments Today, Memories Tomorrow
Published by Barbara Hagen • April 16, 2020

About six years ago, my family spent our Friday nights watching the entire series of Little House on the Prairie. My intent was not just to share with them a little bit of my childhood but to show them a different way of living. These past few weeks have certainly been challenging with COVID-19 affecting us professionally, socially, and personally, but this gift of time, and of togetherness, has given us a taste of what life may have been like back in Walnut Grove and brought back these wonderful memories. My hope for all of us is to embrace the notable moments today as they will become our enduring memories tomorrow.

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