58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.
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...
Published on 4 Feb 2002
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, gripping but rather one sided view
I found this book hard to put down and read it from cover to cover in a day. Krakauer writes in a way that puts you in the very middle of the story. While i found the book fascinating i think it is also important to read something like The Climb by Antoli Boukreev or the Death Zone by Dickinson to get a more rounded opinion of the whole disaster. Krakauer has been...
Published on 24 Oct 2000
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read.,
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.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into Thin Air,
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.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling account of the 1996 Everest tragedy.,
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly gripping read.,
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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant (from the comfort of an armchair).,
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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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping,
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read, and a 'personal' account,
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.
In fact Krakauer reserves plenty of criticism for himself, errors he made during the tragedy and misinformation he propagated because he was convinced it was true. He describes the heroic efforts of others (including Boukreev) while admitting to his own inaction on various occasions.
So while the book might be as 'biased' as any personal account would be, I don't think the criticisms against it are justified. Read the book and be astonished.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very personal account.,
Because this is such a personal account, I would suggest that those who criticize it for being one sided are wide of the mark. Krakauer himself acknowledges the difficulty he had in remembering accurately and in comparing his memories with those of others. Much of what he is recalling happened when he and others were suffering from severe exhaustion, oxygen deprivation and altitude sickness. He also admits that writing this book was a cathartic exercise for him, which has resulted in his readers being less well served than they should have been. Yes, he criticizes others and questions their actions and motives, but he is also hard on himself, and he does recount the heroic deeds of others (such as Anatoli Boukreev) as well as their questionable ones. I suppose that for the sake of completeness it would be interesting to read Boukreev's account, but not essential. This book stands on its own.
And what a book it is! I would defy anyone, be they an experienced climber or someone with no no previous interest in mountaineering, to put it down once begun. This is the antidote to all of those coffee table books that present only the benign, picturesque face of Everest. From the squalid conditions on the walk-in and at base camp to the harrowing climax in the death zone, I was struck by the honesty of this book. The characters involved are also well drawn, though some may not like the way Krakauer paints them. There are some great climbers who are not good enough writers to do justice to their exploits. Krakauer would not count himself as a great Himalayan mountaineer, and would perhaps question whether his trip to Everest in 1996 was worth while at all. Nevertheless, his ability to write about his experiences makes this book a very worth while read.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book taken with a pinch of salt,
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.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Most Engrossing Reads Even If Your Not A Mountain Climbing Fan.,
This is an account of the `96 Everest expedition that lead to tragedy as witnessed by one of the climbers involved with the 2 groups at the centre of the tragedy. John Krakauers account is utterly compelling from the first page to the last. You feel exhausted & breathless yourself as he recounts the events that unfolded on Everset in May `96. He`s writing style is fluid, containing enough information & detail to the scene as is needed by the reader to help get a sense of the mountain & climbing it. You also gain a sense of the other climbers & begin to understand there ambitions & what motivated them to try to climb the highest mountain on earth. [ not all come over as descent people & many have very selfish reasons indeed ] I bought this book based on the recommendations here at Amazon & i was so engrossed i read the whole thing in a matter of hours. Even if your not into climbing you will not be able to put this book down. I really felt for Krakauer after reading this & for the families of those that died. A tale of daring, stubbornness, willpower, determination, bad judgement, indicisiveness & ultimately death, well told highly recommended.
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Into Thin Air: A personal account of the Everest disaster - updated 2nd edition by Jon Krakauer (Paperback - 1 July 2011)