Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mt. Everest Disaster

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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mt. Everest Disaster

by Jon Krakauer

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | April 15, 1999 | Trade Paperback |

4.3023 out of 5 rating. 43 Reviews
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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."

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: April 15, 1999

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385494785

ISBN - 13: 9780385494786

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– More About This Product –

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mt. Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account Of The Mt. Everest Disaster

by Jon Krakauer

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 368 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.79 in

Published: April 15, 1999

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0385494785

ISBN - 13: 9780385494786

Read from the Book

In March 1996, Outside Magazine sent me to Nepal to participate in, and write about, a guided ascent of Mount Everest. I went as one of eight clients on an expedition led by a well-known guide from New Zealand named Rob Hall. On May 10 I arrived on top of the mountain, but the summit came at a terrible cost. Among my five teammates who reached the top, four, including Hall, perished in a rogue storm that blew in without warning while we were still high on the peak. By the time I''d descended to Base Camp nine climbers from four expeditions were dead, and three more lives would be lost before the month was out. The expedition left me badly shaken, and the article was difficult to write. Nevertheless, five weeks after I returned from Nepal I delivered a manuscript to Outside , and it was published in the September issue of the magazine. Upon its completion I attempted to put Everest out of my mind and get on with my life, but that turned out to be impossible. Through a fog of messy emotions, I continued trying to make sense of what had happened up there, and I obsessively mulled the circumstances of my companions'' deaths. The Outside piece was as accurate as I could make it under the circumstances, but my deadline had been unforgiving, the sequence of events had been frustratingly complex, and the memories of the survivors had been badly distorted by exhaustion, oxygen depletion, and shock. At one point during my research I asked three other people to recount an incident all f
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From the Publisher

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."

From the Jacket

"... he has produced a narrative that is both meticulously researched and deftly constructed. Unlike the expedition, his story rushes irresistibly forward. But perhaps Mr. Krakauer's greatest achievement is his evocation of the deadly storm, his ability to re-create its effects with a lucid and terrifying intimacy. --Alastair Scott, The New York Times Book Review

"This is a great book, among the best ever on mountaineering.  Gracefully and efficiently written, carefully researched, and actually lived by its narrator, it shares a similar theme with another sort of book, a novel called "The Great Gatsby." --The Washington Post                        

"Into Thin Air ranks among the great adventure books of all time." --The Wall Street Journal        
                                                                        
"Krakauer is an extremely gifted storyteller as well as a relentlessly honest and even-handed journalist, the story is riveting and wonderfully complex in its own right, and Krakauer makes one excellent decision after another about how to tell it.... To call the book an adventure saga seems not to recognize that it is also a deeply thoughtful and finely wrought philosophical examination of the self." --Elle                

"Hypnotic, rattling. . . .  Time collapses as, minute by minute, Krakauer rivetingly and movingly chronicles what ensued, much of which is near agony to read. . . .  A brilliantly told story that won't go begging when the year's literary honors are doled out." --Kirkus Reviews
                
"Though it comes from the genre named for what it isn't (nonfiction), this has the feel of literature: Krakauer is Ishmael, the narrator who lives to tell the story but is forever trapped within it....  Krakauer's reporting is steady but ferocious.  The clink of ice in a glass, a poem of winter snow, will never sound the same."        --Mirabella                        

"Into Thin Air is a remarkable work of reportage and self-examination. . . . And no book on the 1996 disaster is likely to consider so honestly the mistakes that killed his colleagues." --Newsday                                        

"A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism." --People

"In this movingly written book, Krakauer describes an experience of such bone-chilling horror as to persuade even the most fanatical alpinists to seek sanctuary at sea level." --Sports Illustrated

About the Author

Jon Krakauer is a part-time mountaineer and a full-time writer. He is a contributing editor at Outside magazine and writes for many national magazines and newspapers. He lives in Seattle, Washington.


From the Paperback edition.

From Our Editors

It's considered the ultimate climbing achievement. Every climber dreams of reaching the peak of the colossal Mt. Everest, often at any cost. In this personal account of one disastrous attempt to climb the Nepalese behemoth, author Jon Krakauer shares what it cost him and his climbing team. His New York Times best-selling novel Into Thin Air is this adventurer's third book and appears for the first time in trade paperback format.

Editorial Reviews

"... he has produced a narrative that is both meticulously researched and deftly constructed. Unlike the expedition, his story rushes irresistibly forward. But perhaps Mr. Krakauer''s greatest achievement is his evocation of the deadly storm, his ability to re-create its effects with a lucid and terrifying intimacy." —Alastair Scott, The New York Times Book Review "This is a great book, among the best ever on mountaineering.  Gracefully and efficiently written, carefully researched, and actually lived by its narrator, it shares a similar theme with another sort of book, a novel called " The Great Gatsby ." — The Washington Post                          " Into Thin Air ranks among the great adventure books of all time." — The Wall Street Journal                                                                                   "Krakauer is an extremely gifted storyteller as well as a relentlessly honest and even-handed journalist, the story
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