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Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster - updated 2nd edition [Paperback]

Jon Krakauer
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (287 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2011

This is the true story of a 24-hour period on Everest, when members of three separate expeditions were caught in a storm and faced a battle against hurricane-force winds, exposure, and the effects of altitude, which ended the worst single-season death toll in the peak's history.

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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pan; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1447200187
  • ISBN-13: 978-1447200185
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (287 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,934 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

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon but journalist/mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mount 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. With more than 250 black-and-white photographs taken by various expedition members and an enlightening new postscript by the author, the Illustrated Edition shows readers what this tragic climb looked like and potentially provides closure for Krakauer and his detractors.

"I have no doubt that Boukreev's intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in a postscript dated August 1998. "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 the guide Boukreev, Krakauer's tone is conciliatory; he points most of his criticism at G. Weston DeWalt, who co-authored 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. Krakauer further buries the ice axe by donating his share of royalties from sales of The Illustrated Edition to the Everest '96 Memorial Fund, which aids various environmental and humanitarian charities. -- Rob McDonald --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read. 4 Feb 2002
By A Customer
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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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into Thin Air 20 Aug 2002
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly gripping read. 16 Mar 2003
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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book taken with a pinch of salt 14 Mar 2006
Definately worth a read! The book is written in great detail and Krakauer has obviously done his research by speaking to all parties involved in the tragedy.
I take his personal opinions with a pinch of salt as he points the finger at a number of individuals directly and indirectly.
This book must be bought along with Boukreev's "The Climb" to grasp what really happened in 1996.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping 13 Feb 2003
By A Customer
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant (from the comfort of an armchair). 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars essential reading for armchair climbers
I love climbing books and this is the best I've read. Highly recommended. (By the way I trust this version more than any of the others about that happened that season)
Published 11 hours ago by littlefroggy
5.0 out of 5 stars really did love it.
Yep...... really did love it..... compelling.
Published 2 days ago by G. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought for my wife as she wanted to read more ...
Bought for my wife as she wanted to read more about those largely unwritten hero's of the mountains; the Sherpa's. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Pete
5.0 out of 5 stars I know very little about climbing but loved this book
Gripping and fascinating book. I know very little about climbing but loved this book.
Published 17 days ago by Bill Brush
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting and insightful read.
I really enjoyed this book! A great insight into climbing Mt Everest! My only negative comment would be the way the author switches from using the first names of climbers to their... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Hellerina
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful book...well written...gripping !
Published 27 days ago by Mr Jonathan R Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Gruelling
This is grim stuff, so descriptive of the dangers and effort required that you could do with supplementary oxygen while you read it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Holden m groin
5.0 out of 5 stars A distant world brought to the safety of your home
Despite the tragic subject of the book, this is nothing but an intense and compelling read. It is obvious that Krakauer is not a climber who has tried his hand at writing but... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Thomas Baggott
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story!
As an alpine climber I was highly interested in Jon Krakauer's personal account of what has happened in 1996. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gea
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing story
I read the original Outside magazine article during a snowstorm while stuck on a train outside Norwich in 1997 and the story has stayed with me years. Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. Fremont
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