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Into Thin Air (Turtleback School & Library…

Into Thin Air (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) (original 1997; edition 1999)

by Jon Krakauer

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10,235238281 (4.18)291
Title:Into Thin Air (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)
Authors:Jon Krakauer
Info:Turtleback (1999), Hardcover, 416 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (1997)

  1. 71
    The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest by Anatoli Boukreev (marzipanz, oregonobsessionz, coclimber, bluepiano)
    marzipanz: It may seem like an obvious recommendation, but I would really urge everybody to read The Climb instead of or in addition to Into Thin Air. It really sheds a completely new light on some of what Krakauer writes, and - to me - seemed a far more convincing account of some of the events.… (more)
    oregonobsessionz: While The Climb is not an easy read like Into Thin Air, it does provide a different perspective on the disaster, and answers some of Krakauer's criticisms of Boukreev's actions.
    bluepiano: I may be the only reader of Krakauer's book who thought Boukreev came across as a hero in it. The Climb is a heartening reminder that experience, intelligence, and calm can be the makings of heroism, and it's quite interesting as well.
  2. 40
    Left for Dead: My Journey Home from Everest by Beck Weathers (riverwillow)
  3. 40
    The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men against the Sea by Sebastian Junger (kraaivrouw)
  4. 30
    Everest the West Ridge: 50th Anniversary Edition by Thomas Hornbein (BookWallah)
    BookWallah: If you liked Into Thin Air, then you are ready for the mountaineering classic, Everest: The West Ridge. This sparse first person account of the other American team that came after Whitaker in 1963 and put up a route that has seldom been repeated.
  5. 30
    Touching the Void by Joe Simpson (VivienneR)
  6. 20
    Blind Descent: the Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth by James M. Tabor (PamFamilyLibrary)
    PamFamilyLibrary: Who would guess, but going down into the Super Caves is as dangerous as going up K2 or Everest.
  7. 20
    Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson (alaskabookworm)
    alaskabookworm: Couldn't put "Shadow Divers" down; one of my favorite nonfiction adventure books of all time.
  8. 20
    K2 : Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs (Grandeplease)
  9. 20
    Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains by Jon Krakauer (fichtennadel, Sandydog1)
    Sandydog1: If you want some background on "what makes Krakauer tick", do check out his earlier stories.
  10. 10
    Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest's Most Controversial Season by Nick Heil (normandie_m)
    normandie_m: The events in this book re-opened discussion of the controversies surrounding the 1996 disaster. Heil examines similar themes, particularly the ethical dilemma of whether or not to offer assistance to/rescuing sick climbers when one's own health and supplies such as oxygen are depleted.… (more)
  11. 10
    Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eichar (sweetbug)
    sweetbug: Both stories of mountaineering adventures gone terribly, terribly wrong.
  12. 10
    Ultimate High: My Everest Odyssey by Göran Kropp (Navarone)
  13. 10
    The Kid Who Climbed Everest: The Incredible Story of a 23-Year-Old's Summit of Mt. Everest by Bear Grylls (FireandIce)
  14. 10
    The Other Side of Everest: Climbing the North Face Through the Killer Storm by Matt Dickinson (riverwillow)
  15. 00
    Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Both are about the ascent to the top of Mount Everest - one is historical fiction; the other is non-fiction,
  16. 00
    In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (ethanw)
    ethanw: these guys were really cold too! Both books are excellently written and paced.
  17. 00
    Snowstruck: In the Grip of Avalanches by Jill Fredston (alaskabookworm)
  18. 00
    Dead Lucky: Life after Death on Mount Everest by Lincoln Hall (RMSmithJr)
  19. 00
    Climbing High: A Woman's Account of Surviving the Everest Tragedy by Lene Gammelgaard (cjoats)
  20. 00
    K2: Triumph and Tragedy by Jim Curran (Polaris-)

(see all 22 recommendations)


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» See also 291 mentions

English (231)  Spanish (3)  Italian (2)  All (1)  German (1)  All (238)
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
Oh, Wow. This book…this book was every bit as difficult to read as I thought it would be. It was no debate. This was a five star read for me.

We follow the author, Jon Krakauer, in chapters that alternate “Before” and “After" the Mt. Everest event that changed his life and the lives of many others. Because Jon has to make us realize what drove/called him to attend this expedition. He was on an assignment from Outside magazine- an assignment he'd requested.

I was an adult in 1996 and recall the reports about the May 10-11, 1996, Mt. Everest tradgety. But, I never get to a point where I'm not interested in his story. I found it was, for me, an on the edge- of - my seat, frenetic sort of read.

What I loved most about this story is the real factor. The love of hiking and mountain climbing can be difficult in good conditions. Adding blizzard conditions, during attempts to ascend to or descend from a summit, make it near impossible and yet there is a sense of reverence.

My Conclusion
I recommend this. It is not perfect. It is heartbreaking - and real. It does offer good advice on the importance of buddy systems, gear checks and listening to your inner voice for guidance.
( )
  LorisBook | Jul 16, 2017 |
This is probably the best climbing book I have read despite the controversy surrounding some aspects. It was as enthralling as books like Endurance and as readable. I was with the author on the mountain and felt the terrible pain of the losses they endured, the guilt of the survivors and the many "what ifs" after the event.

The author relays his personal experiences climbing Everest in 1996 with a number of groups. This was the tragic year when many of the participants didn't make it off the mountain due to a catalogue of errors and an untimely snow storm. He also documents a lot of the history of other climbs and delves into the personalities and characters of some of the great climbers.

More generally, I am drawn to these adventure books and stories which hold a certain fascination. But whenever I read about the cost ($70,000 minimum,) the risk ( 1 in 4 people die in an Everest attempt) and the pain and possible life changing injuries from frost bite, I am always glad I can just read about it from the warmth and comfort of a safe altitude on dry ground.

There is something unique about people who set out to achieve these goals. Krakauer describes them like this

To become a climber was to join a self-contained, rabidly idealistic society, largely unnoticed and surprisingly uncorrupted by the world at large. The culture of ascent was characterised by intense competition and undiluted machismo, but for the most part, its constituents were concerned with impressing one another only. Getting to the top of any given mountain was considered much less important than how one got there: prestige was earned by tackling the more unforgiving routes with minimal equipment, in the boldest style imaginable

I find myself wondering how they feel when it is all over. They have spent a fortune, risked everything, endured much pain, put their waiting family through a nightmare and possibly lost colleagues or friends to a gruesome death. What is it all for? Is it worth it? What are they really seeking?

Reading books like this, one might suppose that most climbers do it for the beauty of the scenery or the thrill of the surroundings. However, it is clear from this book and others that these aspects very much take a back seat. Instead, it is a competition to be the best in the field and it can take over a person's life. Climbing mountains is what they dream about and ultimately what they live for. It can become an obsession in the same way that sport or work or any other hobby can. That is when it becomes dangerous and purposeless.

God created each of us with a vacuum that only He can fill. Man will seek to deny this and seek pleasure and fulfillment in many places other than God. These things then become idols. They must be kept in their proper place and we need to keep a proper perspective.

This is a great book. The strong language is not so great hence the less than perfect rating. There is no sexual content and no violence. There are upsetting scenes of death.

( )
  sparkleandchico | Jun 2, 2017 |
Cannot put it down. ( )
  AuthorGabrielle | May 28, 2017 |
8/28/09 UPDATE: I finally went back and read the book. I know that there was some things I missed from not being able to read the book. When I listen to books at work there is always something I missed. Before I got the book from the library I tried to watch the made-for-TV movie of the book. It was absolutely awful. Beyond any other made-for-TV awful I had ever seen. I couldn't even finish it. It was that bad. And it was completely off from the book. The book could have so easily been adapted. As much of a tragedy it is, why in the world would you change it? Especially considering that it's a true story?

As when I listened to the book, reading it was like reading Jon's confession. It's heartbreaking all the way through. You read about his growing relationships with the other team members. Forced into a situation like climbing Everest, even strangers become your friends. These people started out as part of his report on the commercialization of Everest; but as the month went on, they became his friends and companions.

You rejoice with Jon when he summits. And your heart breaks as he takes you through the details of losing most of his teammates and leaders when Everest and Mother Nature throw a weather curve ball.

I know people criticize Krakauer for writing this book, but at the same time a lot of current Everest and other mountain excursion companies have learned a great deal from the events of the 1996 Everest tragedy. Maybe not because of Jon Krakauer himself, but maybe. I've watched the Discovery Channel's seasons 1 and 2 Everest tv show. The narrator always mentions that the man who runs the featured guiding company has done everything possible to make sure that what happened in 1996 never happens to the people he guides. He was friends with both Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, and quite possibly some of the other climbers who lost their lives that year.

The book isn't necessarily entertainment. It's history. It's sad. There's no happy ending to this book. I guess I read it purely for curiosity sake. Maybe because I know I'll never summit Everest. That doesn't explain why I read THIS book about such a horrible tragedy.

I don't know who I'd recommend this book to. Maybe other Everest enthusiasts, maybe possible Everest climbers, anyone interested in extreme mountaineering. But it's not entertainment.

12/16/08 UPDATE: WOW! This book was amazing. It's horrific, like a train wreck. You don't want to listen anymore, but you need to know what happened. You need to know how the people that survived survived. You need to know what happened.

I can't begin to imagine what it was like in the face of that hurricane force winds and blizzard. No oxygen. Freezing. Mentally and physically exhausted and completely out of it. Why would anyone purposefully do this? Is it just the extreme-ness of climbing everest? Of pushing death? What makes someone feel the need to do something that, even on the best weather days, could kill them or at least serious endanger their lives?

This was a most fascinating book. I'm going to have to read it now to pick up on the things I missed. Absolutely fascinating. I'd like to read another version by the Russian who, according to Krakauer, left his team behind to get warm.

I'm listening to this book, not reading it. I've been wanting to read this book for about a year now, ever since I first heard about it. I've always wanted to climb Everest. It fascinates me to think that anyone could climb that high up, against all of what nature could throw at you - blinding sun, freezing colds, winds more powerful than we can imagine.

But I'm glad I'm reading/listening to this. Just base camp alone would cancel me out - there are no bathrooms. People poo/pee wherever they are at. The toilets are usually stopped up. The yak dung that is used in the stoves to keep the base campers warm makes people violently ill. Most people have gastrointestinal issues that results in vomiting and diarhea. I barely do well with GI issues in my own home, much less, thousands of feet up in the air.

But what I've listened to so far is satisfying whatever urges I have for climbing Everest. So far it's a fabulous story - not just John Krakauer's story of his own trip up the cliff, but history as well. Some interesting stories, and some insanely stupid stories - one guy bought a plane to crash into Everest and then climb to the summit - he had no flight experience nor climbing experience and that didn't seem to bother him at all.

I'm only giving it four stars because that author is reading the book. At times he mumbles and others he rushes forward. But otherwise, I think if I were reading this book, I'd give it 5 stars. ( )
  wendithegray | May 1, 2017 |
Great read, although I can't fathom why anyone would want to "conquer" Mount Everest. I can't think of a more horrible, miserable, terrifying way to spend two months. You'd have to be insane to do it. INSANE. Just reading about this experience was enough to give me bad dreams for a couple of nights. Still, glad I read it. I have no desire to get any closer to experiencing Everest, however. ( )
  AngelClaw | Feb 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
An experienced climber himself, Mr. Krakauer gives us both a tactile appreciation of the dangerous allure of mountaineering and a compelling chronicle of the bad luck, bad judgment and doomed heroism that led to the deaths of his climbing companions.
it is impossible to finish this book unmoved and impossible to forget for a moment that its author would have given anything not to have to write it.

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Krakauer, Jonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Karl, AnitaMapssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perria, LidiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rackliff, RandyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Men play at tragedy because they do not believe in the reality of the tragey which is actually being staged in the civilised world. —José Ortega y Gasset
For Linda; and in memory of Andy Harris, Doug Hansen, Rob Hall, Yasuko Namba, Scott Fischer, Ngawang Topche Sherpa, Chen Yu-Nana, Bruce Herrod, and Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Please distinguish between print editions of Jon Krakauer's 1997 memoir, Into Thin Air, and the abridged audio version. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385494785, Paperback)

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. 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 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 a 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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:00 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

A history of Mount Everest expedition is intertwined with the disastrous expedition the author was a part of, during which five members were killed by a hurricane-strength blizzard. When Jon Krakauer reached the summit of Mt. Everest in the early afternoon of May 10, 1996, he hadn't slept in fifty-seven hours and was reeling from the brain-altering effects of oxygen depletion. As he turned to begin his long, dangerous descent from 29,028 feet, twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly toward the top. No one had noticed that the sky had begun to fill with clouds. Six hours later and 3,000 feet lower, in 70-knot winds and blinding snow, Krakauer collapsed in his tent, freezing, hallucinating from exhaustion and hypoxia, but safe. The following morning he learned that six of his fellow climbers hadn't made it back to their camp and were in a desperate struggle for their lives. When the storm finally passed, five of them would be dead, and the sixth so horribly frostbitten that his right hand would have to be amputated. Krakauer examines what it is about Everest that has compelled so many people - including himself - to throw caution to the wind, ignore the concerns of loved ones, and willingly subject themselves to such risk, hardship, and expense. Written with emotional clarity and supported by his unimpeachable reporting, Krakauer's eye-witness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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