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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 March 2011
Beck Weathers is famous for not dying on Everest during the ill fated expedition that has been documented in "Into Thin Air". Left for dead by member of his climbing party, he stumbled into a high altitude camp the next morning, severely frost bitten, and close to death. He was rescued by helicopter, in itself a remarkable event and eventually recovered, all be it with the loss of hands and nose. This is a summary of the first two chapters of the book - the remaining 23 chapters deal with the time before Everest and his recovery from the injuries he sustained there.

This is an important thing to realise about this book - most of it is not about the Everest expedition itself, and the majority is not about mountaineering at all.

This is a book outlining how a man (who regularly appears to be wilfully selfish) recovers from his injuries and regains contact with his family, who he had become isolated from, or possibly pushed away.
The book is structured so that each of the main characters in the story has their say in sections labelled with their name. This book does seem to be a very honest account of how driven a man can be by an obsession, and how his wife and family can suffer as a result. The authors wife, Peach, does not spare Weathers any blushes in her account of his behaviour.

Despite the fact that Weather claims that his experiences on Everest changed him for the better, he does not always come across well in this book. He describes a climber who died on Everest as "feckless" because he made a mistake that killed him. He describes another people climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro as "amateurs", when he is a member of group who have simply paid out big dollars for the experience. Cash does not make you a professional, and when almost all of your experience has been gained on payed guided expeditions, I think it would be best to be careful about claiming "professionalism".

His recovery from his injuries is remarkable - but he is very fortunate to be alive and equally (if not more) fortunate to have his family still around him.

Many mountaineers may be driven, unpleasant men, but I have read very few books where this is so apparent. I think this is an interesting book about I charter I came to dislike - this may not be a literary conclusion, but that's the simple fact of the matter.

The book itself is not long and I would recommend it if you are interested in the way people think about mountains and themselves, but it's not a mountaineering book as such.

Proceed with caution!
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on 13 March 2002
The first two chapters were an excellent account of what is now a well known story. However, after that, the book switches from the climbing to the history of the Weathers' family. I found this added little to the story. If it's a climbing book you want, I would ignore this.
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on 6 November 2003
The big problem with this book is its been billed as a book on mountaineering and often placed in the adventure sections. Its not a book on mountaineering. Its more of an apology to his long suffering wife and family for being a self obsessed climber. Unless I was studying pyschology I won't bother. I read it, the hubby got bored when he realised the mountain story was only two chapters. It is well written and it is a good book but its not a mountaineering or travel or adventure book.
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on 6 June 2003
I decided like many others to read this book after hearing about the accident in Into Thin Air, it gives as wonderfully different pespective as only i guess it could do.
It also opened my eyes to the general relationship problems the mountaineers seem to have, they use the mountains as a means of escape.
It is an lonley and isolated tale... well worth a read
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on 4 May 2016
Deeply disappointing. I was hoping for Becks' account of the infamous incident on Everest not an account of how emotionally stunted he was before going there and how he made his marriage work after coming back. Part two is an in-depth personal history which is about as uninteresting a story as you could possibly read. I'm trying to read part three but I'm BORED with the book. He seems a nice guy and I'm glad he's in a good place now but the book misrepresented as a climbing story and bound to cause disappointment.
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on 19 September 2008
This epic starts out as a tale of tragic loss and human suffering but it develops into so much more.Beck Weathers drags the reader kicking and screaming up and down some of the highest peaks in the world.For what purpose? Maybe to escape the depths of depression he tries to conquer the euphoric heights of achievment and continually pushes his bodies limits.Its no surprise then when it all ends in tragedy but even severe frostbite resulting in amputation cannot quell this remarkable mans indomitable spirit.

This is a moving account of one mans attempt to conquer the highest mountain and also the deepest darkest recesses of his own mind.
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on 16 March 2016
It is fairly explicitly stated in the book (although not perhaps massively highlighted on the cover) that this ISN'T a definitive story of the '96 Everest disaster from the Everest movie but rather how Beck Weathers dealt with (effectively) his mid-life crisis of mountaineering and finding his place in the world. It's not as navel-gazing as that might sound and does throw up some interesting viewpoints about 'drive' and 'achievement'.
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on 21 October 2015
I'm a big fan of climbing books and was fascinated by Into Thin Air so wanted a chance to read Beck's extraordinary survival story. Problem is there's not too much about 1996 and a lot of stuff about his family and how much he loves them now. Bit cheesy really. I am amazed that it didn't seem to cross his mind that his wife might get a bit pissed off with him disappearing the whole time to climb mountains. Still losing his hands and nose seems to have clarified things a bit!!!!
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on 13 June 2015
This started as a very interesting read, following the story of Beck Weathers as he returned from Everest. The rest of the book was about Becks struggle with depression and the other mountains he has climbed, leaving his wife behind.
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This book has a great title, as it sums up Beck Weathers' Mt. Everest experience. Unfortunately, this is the only great thing about this book. It is, at best, a mildly interesting book. The only truly interesting part is his recollection of the 1996 Everest trip, which saw his expedition gripped in the fierce storm that struck, and its immediate aftermath. His survival, which is truly amazing, is almost glossed over and turned into a sad soap opera about a marriage gone stale with time.
It does seem that Beck's patient wife, Peach, had been ill treated in the sense that he would go off to do some amateur mountain climbing (with the emphasis on amateur), leaving her with the kids for weeks at a time and remaining incommunicado. Since her voice is interspersed throughout this book, you can see why he might want to get away. A more insipid voice, I can't imagine. She is what is bad about this book. Yet, at the same time it was her efforts, along with those of her friends, which were the catalyst for the herculean helicopter rescue by Colonel Madan K.C. who brought Beck down from Mt. Everest. Still, she is an utter bore.
What is good about the book is Beck's sense of humor and his indomitable spirit, which is undoubtedly what kept him alive in unbelievably harsh conditions on Everest. Though it is those like him who, financially able to go on these expeditions but lacking the technical skill to effectively navigate the harsh terrain, put themselves and others at risk. While it is clear that he was delighted to be rubbing shoulders with the mountaineering elite on Everest, it did not seem to dawn on him that he was just another foolhardy dilettante who, though having had some climbing experience, simply did not belong on Everest. It is this hubris that brought him to this pass. Quite frankly, given his description of his mountaineering efforts on some of the world's other tall peaks, it is a miracle he was not left for dead long before Everest.
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