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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Into Thin Air A Personal Account of the Mt Everest Disaster
Author: Jon Krakauer
When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10,1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin the perilous descent from 29,028 feet (roughly the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner), twenty other climbers were stil...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780385492089
ISBN-10: 0385492081
Publication Date: 4/1998
Pages: 416
Rating:
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 403

4.1 stars, based on 403 ratings
Publisher: Anchor
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster on + 27 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
What an amazing book! It should be mentioned that there are other perspectives to this disaster (some which can be read in this Salon.com series of articles), and other books have been written about it, but this does not affect the fact that this is an incredibly well-written book. It reads like a suspense novel. It's just so tragic that you have to keep reminding yourself that these people were real. Real lives were lost.

In 1996, when this book is set, I was living in my home country of England, and I don't remember the story at all, so unlike some who read this book, I never saw the news stories flying about at the time. I would not normally read a book about mountaineering, but this is a book about the people involved and the narrative reads so well, that even those without any interest in the subject should find it gripping.
reviewed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
I picked this book up as a tonic for the hottest days of summer and found I had to put it aside several times as the story felt so immediate and personal. The desire to reach the fullness of the story was in direct opposition to a palpable sense of dread that grew with each chapterâ"the writing is that good.
reviewed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster on
Helpful Score: 5
A fairly gripping nonfiction account of tragic events during the author's ascent (with a group) up Everest. I enjoyed this, although I found it a bit self-indulgent, and the author has admitted since that he probably wrote it too soon after the event--he said he got some details wrong, and his story was affected/distorted by the emotional aftermath. But definitely worth the read. I liked Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven and Into the Wild as well.

Other books about climbing that I recommend more strongly than this one are "K2: A Woman's Place is on Top" and "Touching the Void". For other nonfiction books on extreme sports: "To the Edge" is a phenomenal book about ultramarathoning and "Winterdance" is a terrific account of the Iditarod sled race, and "Shadow Divers" is just a wonderful book about deep wreck diving.
reviewed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster on + 472 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
"Into thin Air" is a brilliantly written adventure saga that ends in tragedy. Jon Krakauer takes us step by shivering step, on his journey up Mt. Everest, during the notoriously deadly expedition of May 1996, where 4 of 11 climbers lost their lives. Barely escaping with his own life, journalist Krakauer remembers the team members and friends left on the mountain.
reviewed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster on + 32 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Very gripping non-fiction read. Krakauer's writing style is easy, engaging and illuminating. Highly recommended.
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reviewed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster on + 203 more book reviews
Wonderful, thought-provoking important, book.
reviewed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster on + 7 more book reviews
I really liked this book. It gave me a whole new appreciation for Mt. Everest. When someone says they are going to climb Mt. Everest I am truly impressed. I liked it so much that I sent a copy to my nephew in the army.
reviewed Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster on
I had wanted to read this book from the time I read an excerpt in Reader's Digest. At that time, the book was, of course, only in hardback, something I rarely purchase. By the time it was issued in paperback, I had forgotten all about it. When I joined Paperback Swap and began searching for books, it returned to my memory, and I'm glad it did.

While reading it, I was constantly checking for Google images of the various locations on Everest to get a sense of the difficulty of each portion of the climb. I also read other accounts on the internet of the tragedy of May 1996, including a multi-piece feature from Outside magazine done on the tenth anniversary. With all that, I feel that this is a very accurate accounting of the events that unfolded. I was disturbed to read toward the end of the book a scathing letter sent to Krakauer from Fischer's sister, in which she stated, "You have commented on what SHOULD have been done by the leaders, the Sherpas, the clients, and have made arrogant accusations of their wrongdoing. All according to Jon Krakauer, who after sensing the doom brewing, scrambled back to his tent for his own safety and survival..." She later says, "There are no answers. No one is at fault. No one is to blame." Really? Sounds like you're placing at least some of the blame squarely on Krakauer's shoulders, who was too wiped out physically to have been of help to anyone and probably would have died himself if he had tried. Letting out her anger was a good idea, but not at the expense of Krakauer's emotions after the fact.

I don't believe that Krakauer was making "arrogant accusations"; I believe he was simply reporting the event and trying to be as factual as possible. By his own admission, the large article he had written for Outside magazine shortly after those terrible events contained some inaccuracies, and the book was written partly to correct those inaccuracies. (The most serious mistake occurred because he had not received return phone calls from one trekker prior to writing the article, and at the time the incident occurred, he was confused due to hypoxia and fatigue, fairly common at that altitude.)

The tragic events of May 1996 occurred not because of any one big error on anyone's part, but rather due to a series of errors. I believe that Into Thin Air reports those errors without admonishment, leaving the reader to form his/her own opinion as to why so many died. However, I disagree with one of Krakauer's statements: that trying to learn from the mistakes is "for the most part an exercise in denial and self-deception." There is a lot to be learned from this incident. It is obvious, though, that with the continued commercialization of climbing Everest and the other "seven summits," with little regard for the experience and ability of those willing to pony up the fees, it hasn't happened.


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