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Into Thin Air: Personal Account of the Everest Disaster Paperback – 7 Aug 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books; New edition edition (7 Aug. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330353977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330353977
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (342 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,965 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon Krakauer is the author of Eiger Dreams, Into The Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven and is the editor of the Modern Library Exploration series.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Into Thin Air is a riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest. In March 1996, Outside magazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead. Krakauer's book is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end. Written within months of the events it chronicles, Into Thin Air clearly evokes the majestic Everest landscape. As the journey up the mountain progresses, Krakauer puts it in context by recalling the triumphs and perils of other Everest trips throughout history. The author's own anguish over what happened on the mountain is palpable as he leads readers to ponder timeless questions.

From the Publisher

Other books by Jon Krakauer
Readers might like to know that there are two other books by Jon Krakauer currently available. Into The Wild (according to Paul Theroux 'a fascinating story of idealism, fantasy and the dark side of the wilderness experience) is a Macmillan hardcover price £14.99, coming in Pan paperback in March 1999 at £5.99 and Eiger Dreams, a riveting collection of Jon Krakauer's writings on mountaineering is currently available in Pan paperback at £5.99

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First Sentence
Straddling the top of the world, one foot in China and the other in Nepal, I cleared the ice from my oxygen mask, hunched a shoulder against the wind, and stared absently down at the vastness of Tibet. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Feb. 2002
Format: Paperback
Whether you have an interest in mountaineering or not, this book is difficult to put down. To a non-alpinist, the author has succeeded in portraying the story behind this tragedy in such a way that in the first few chapters, you begin to toy with the idea that mountaineering might hold some attraction. However, in the telling of the summit tragedy and the events thereafter the idea that Everest might be a seductive force is completely erased and you are left with a feeling of utmost horror and helplessness at what these people went through. There is a realisation that it's not just about getting to the summit - mountaineers have a mind-set which demands further examination by lesser mortals.
Jon Krakauer is a gifted writer and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a book to get totally immersed in. I couldn't put it down and read it cover to cover twice.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mr Matthew Guest on 20 Aug. 2002
Format: Paperback
A detailed and personal account of the '96 Everest disaster. This book provides a fascinating armchair understanding of the physical/mental demands of high altitude climbing and the events leading up to the tragedy that killed 12 people. This account created a widespread fascination of the event, along with widespread debate and controversy. If there is a must read in the mountaineering world, this is it.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Jan. 1999
Format: Paperback
Having never held any interest in mountaineering, I came across 'Into Thin Air' by accident. However, I found Jon Krakauer's account of the 1996 Everest disaster to be utterly gripping. Krakauer gives a clear insight into what compels ordinary people to leave their everyday existence behind and spend vast sums to conquer the world's highest peak. Many were attracted by the fact that the mountain had appeared to be 'tamed.' Expert guides such as Rob Hall, whose expedition Krakauer joined in 1996, had previously guided relatively inexperienced fee paying clients to the summit. In a time when daredevil mountaineering feats had lost their appeal in terms of attracting commercial sponsorship, many climbers came to rely increasingly upon guided expeditions to earn a living. Krakauer lucidly describes the motives of the various teams that congregated upon Everest in 1996 as well as the sometimes fraught interaction between them. The events that led to the death of eight climbers during a terrible storm on the upper reaches of the mountain are recounted in detail. Krakauer is frank in his assessment of what went wrong and much of what he says may seem obvious with hindsight but as he is at pains to point out, rational thought and action is often impossible in intense cold and at extreme altitude.
The quality of Krakauer's writing is exceptional and this book engages the reader on several levels. Issues such as the commercial pressures upon the guides, the motives of the climbers and the effects of the expeditions upon the Himalayan community and environment are examined in an intelligent manner. What remains most in the mind however is the bravery of the climbers, especially those involved in the rescue attempts, and the images of the mountain itself as a great physical and spiritual entity that has possibly not always been afforded the respect it is due.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mc Adams on 16 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books I have read in years. Krakauer is a stylish writer and captures your interest right from the first chapter. He does a great job of helping you understand why people want to climb, but he also does a great job of explaining why climbing Everest has become devalued in many cases. He also covers the technical & medical basics that are relevant to the climb, but he seems to keep this very interesting.
The great thing about this book is that it is compelling to read even if you never walk further that the end of the street. After reading this I wanted to read more about climbing so I read another Krakauer book and several other writers versions of the same Everest climb, but none of these came close to this book in terms of sheer enjoyment.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. Ffoulkes on 25 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was the first of a series of books I have now read on Everest. The reason for this is that the book makes such compelling, fascinating and inciteful reading you are left for a thirst for more. Undoubtedly a tragedy, yet at the same time a personal triumph, this book should have you enthralled from the very first chapter. The attention to detail is excellent and the fleshing out of the characters is good.
I really felt at times as if i was also there on the slopes with the author, so good is he at reliving the event. The sense of angst and self-doubt that pervades it are also affecting. Recommend , as have others, that you read into thin air by Matt Dickinson as an antidote.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book makes you wonder at what some people will do. Their determination to get to the top of Everest is obsessional, and this is an account of the hardship and joys that they go through to get there.
Once you get into the book, it is hard to put down. It is a book I will keep and read a number of times.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Billingsley on 16 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback
I have no knowledge of climbing (beyond reading Touching the Void) and no urge to try it myself, but I still found this a fascinating and an utterly compelling read. The levels of pain and fear the climbers put themselves through are mind boggling and Jon Krakauer seems to really convey the level of effort involved.

Krakauer was commissioned, as a journalist, to look at whether commercial aspects of guided Everest expeditions were diminishing the achievement, and while he finds a very commercialised situation that doesn't prevent the feat of climbing Everest from being extremely dangerous and difficult.

A number of reviewers have criticised Jon Krakauer for being biased and apportioning blame for the tragedy that his book describes, but it's worth bearing in mind that Krakauer's book is described as a 'personal' account. He doesn't set out to write a definitive truth of what happened merely his version of events as he (and others who he interviewed) can best recall considering the effects of altitude and lack of oxygen at the time.

Krakauer certainly has views on the behaviour and decisions of some of the people on the mountain but to read these as fact rather than personal opinion is to miss the tone in which the book is written. At various points Krakauer questions the actions of Anatoli Boukreev (and other reviewers have suggested reading Anatoli Boukreev's book The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest to get a balanced view), but in no way is he portrayed as 'the chief villain of the piece' as the product description of Boukreev's book suggests.
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