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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

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

ISBN13: 9780385494786
ISBN10: 0385494785
All Product Details

 

Staff Pick

My to-read list is long as it is, so I usually put off reading bestsellers until (a) the hype dies down and used copies start to become available or (b) someone chastises me for not having read something that came out forever ago. And so it was that 10 years after its release, I finally got around to reading Into Thin Air. Turns out the hype was justified. Krakauer's personal account of the deadliest season in Everest's climbing history is, hands down, one of the most riveting, harrowing, and thoughtfully written books I have read. I cannot recommend it enough.
Recommended by Tove, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

US

About the Author

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.

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."

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

ConKat21, August 4, 2012 (view all comments by ConKat21)
One of my favorite nonfiction books. Krakauer recounts the deadly events on Everest with lovely prose and at a cracking pace. A true page-turner!
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momo23, February 18, 2012 (view all comments by momo23)
I had to read this for my English assignment. I enjoyed most of the book. The story was interesting, and the author wrote the book in a way that had a lot of details. At some points it might be kind of boring, but for the most part, the story was fun and may be a bit depressing. I think the book clearly made me not want to climb Mt. Everest at all. For those who like mountain climbing and adventure, I would highly recommend this book.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385494786
Author:
Krakauer, Jon
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Author:
Jon Krakauer New Afterword by the Author
Author:
Krakauer, Jon
Location:
New York
Subject:
Specific Groups
Subject:
Essays & Travelogues
Subject:
Mountaineering
Subject:
Everest, mount (china and nepal)
Subject:
Mountaineering accidents
Subject:
Mountaineering expeditions
Subject:
Specific Groups - General
Subject:
Mountain Madness (Firm)
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
non-fiction;memoir
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
no. 7, revision 4
Publication Date:
19991031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.12x5.26x.81 in. .63 lbs.

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Travel » Travel Writing » General

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster New Trade Paper
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Product details 368 pages Anchor Books - English 9780385494786 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

My to-read list is long as it is, so I usually put off reading bestsellers until (a) the hype dies down and used copies start to become available or (b) someone chastises me for not having read something that came out forever ago. And so it was that 10 years after its release, I finally got around to reading Into Thin Air. Turns out the hype was justified. Krakauer's personal account of the deadliest season in Everest's climbing history is, hands down, one of the most riveting, harrowing, and thoughtfully written books I have read. I cannot recommend it enough.

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