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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Thinking About It,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)I enjoyed this novel so much that I immediately read it again after finishing it the first time. That was mostly due to the fact that the bulk of the action takes place in the last quarter of the book and by then, you're so interested in the fate of the characters, that you have to start again just to sort out all the players. I agree there was MUCH referencing back to the expedition listing pages (had to dog-ear that one) due to the enormous cast and Krakauer's penchant for jumping back and forth in the timeline.
Regardless, I am still thinking about this story days later; about the physical hardships they suffered, about those who suffered further only to ultimately die for their troubles. I still haven't concluded whether climbing Everest is pointless or purposeful. It is currently very wintery in my home town and every time I feel like complaining about the wind chill or how bad it's snowing, I think about the Hillary Step, about Beck Weathers or Neal Biedleman and what REAL cold is.
I'd like to make a note that the 5 stars goes to the story itself and the subject matter, and is not necessarily related to the author. Krakauer's writing style is agreeable and informative, and the firsthand account, however accurate, is fascinating. However I would caution Krakauer to limit his penchant for elaborate and complicated words to describe the ordinary, for no apparent reason other than to make you sprint for the dictionary in mid-paragraph. Why use `bivouac' when you can just say temporary camp or unsheltered area?
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing journalism; not the best story,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)Into Thin Air is a good read- provided you approach it the right way. If you are looking for an action-packed thrill-ride on every page, this book will disappoint you. Krakauer's style is very balanced, straight shooting, and journalistic; and the story has one major limitation- reality. As a journalist, Krakauer is obligated, perhaps by professional ethic, perhaps by personal belief, to tell his readers what actually happened. And as you probably know, the true story is not always the most interesting.
The book itself is riddled with pages of hard facts, which are probably unnecessary and uninteresting to the average reader. Krakauer delves deep into the history of Everest, from its discovery to the present, attempting to set the stage. But his lengthy, grueling descriptions make for laborious reading, as he relates every major expedition since 1924. After some initial background on the mountain, the author feeds you a liberal helping of climbing etiquette and technique. Finally, after nearly 100 pages, Krakauer and his climbing partners reach Mt. Everest Base Camp. The meat of the story is very interesting, and follows Rob Hall's expedition to summit the mountain in 1996. Numerous hardships and pitfalls will be met along the way, but reaching the top is only half the battle. It is on the way down that the real crisis begins to unfold- one month and 250 pages later.
Krakauer cites two reasons for writing this book: to tell a story which he felt needed to be told, and perhaps to gain some closure on the events which have haunted him since the day he left the mountain. He toils to remain balanced in his writing, sharing the accounts of other climbers in addition to his own. In good journalistic form, Krakauer poses questions to the reader without directly asking them. The ending and aftermath in particular do a nice job of drawing on readers' emotions. I also strongly recommend that you read the Author's Note, where you will learn of Krakauer's internal and external struggle; and the fierce debate over how this story should be told.
Perhaps the best way to review this book is to relate the author to you. Jon Krakauer is an incredible, one-of-a-kind journalist... but not the best at action-packed storytelling. His style of writing is one of fact reporting. It goes far beyond the definition of "non-fiction," and borders on... dare I say "boring"? The Los Angeles Time raves that Into Thin Air "will leave you gasping for breath." The only way I see that happening is if you run a marathon while reading it. The bottom line- a good read with a solid, interesting plot, but definitely not "among the great adventure books of all time." Into Thin Air rates a 3 out of 5.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Krakauer suggests far more questions than he answers,
By A Customer
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Mass Market Paperback)As part of the audience Krakauer presumably was trying to reach (non-climbers who are interested in Everest and the 1996 tragedy) I don't know all that much about climbing in general or Everest in particular. Given that, it would have been easy to applaud the book and say, great job, terrific account. Having read two (better) books on the 1996 tragedy after I read this book, I simply can't be enthusiastic about the story overall. Krakauer does a terrific job of making the experience of climbing something people who doesn't do it can relate to, but his account of the tragedy quite frankly comes across as a desperate attempt to place blame. And given his nonexistent high-altitude experience prior to this climb, Krakauer is the last person who should have been making judgments. Essentially, it's a story of "this decision was bad, that decision was bad, this person and that person were both wrong in doing this and that." Krakauer claims that everyone involved in the summit attempt, storm, and subsequent rescue attempts was operating under impaired judgment from lack of oxygen and exhaustion. One is led to wonder just exactly how he escaped these problems to pass judgment on the decisions of climbers and guides with far more Himalayan and high-altitude experience than he had. Lastly, it seems ludicrous that a man who makes a living as an author can claim to give an accurate account of the disaster when he has missed so many crucial facts. Definitely NOT the best choice if you want an objective assessment of what happened and only want to read one book about Everest in May of 1996.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)Well written. As a non climber myself I found it very interesting as there is alot of details included to help the reader have a thorough understanding of what was really happening
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Chilling Account of the Disaster,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)Don't ever begin reading this book if you have to go to work the next day! This is the second book I've read by Jon Krakauer and once again he solemnly forces you to re-live a real story, in this case the harrowing hours he and his teammates went through during the 1996 disaster on top Mount Everest, in which eight climbers were killed. Sad and tragic and it's hard to shake the impression off yourself after reading this book, and if you are susceptible to nightmares you will have plenty after reading this book.
I kept reminding myself that this is a non-fiction book, about real events, because at some points it feels so esoteric that you would find it hard to believe it really happened. I confidently rank this book among great adventure classics like Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon-Tiki".
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)I picked this up and couldn't put it down. From the details I felt like I was taking each step with the climbers.
Everest has always intrigued me. This added to the allure and now because of this book every climbing season I try to find anything I can on the teams that are attemping to summit.
4.0 out of 5 stars Into Thin Air,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)Well I picked this up a few weeks ago and read it in 4 days virtually non-stop. I did not know about the 1996 tragedy and even less about Everest. Since reading this, I can tell you I have Everest fever. I have read 3 more books, and watched about 5 documentaries and this is still the best one. I still feel that his "accusations" are accurate. You cannot and should not place blame on clients as Jon was, the guides and professionals had a much higher level of responsibility and I think as such should be held to account. I think most agree with my view, but there are some reviewers who feel he did this for money, or fame or something and I don't go for that. It's gripping, accuarate as can be in the death zone and hard to put down.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books.,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)I discovered this book after I read "Into the Wild", and quickly became a huge fan of Jon Krakauer. I am almost done reading "The Climb" by Anatoli Boukreev, another climber from the 1996 Everest tragedy, and much prefer Jon Krakauers book. Jon is very descriptive in "Into Thin Air", making constant sidenotes to explain mountaineering techniques and other information that readers may not understand. He is very thorough and honest when describing the events before, during, and after the Everest event...making the reader truly be able to picture themselves there. The book has photos as well...so we know what some of the climbers and guides look like...as where crucial events happened on the mountain. "The Climb" by Anatoli Boukreev seems to rush through the events, and not describe things as well. This book is a must read for outdoor enthusiasts, mountain climbers, and history lovers.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Storm .. but on a mountain..,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)many times whilst reading i found myself droping it from view and shaking my head. obviously without spoiling it for others, there is not a better example of this than the last sentence or paragraph.
on several occasions other climbers in desparate trouble were passed, sometimes without even a mere glance, and left to surely die. yet it's as if the climbers never actually weighed up the pro's and cons of stopping for fellow men (and women) but just that, in such extreme conditions, the thought process never even occurs.
one can never imagine this clime unless being exposed to it oneself, Into Thin Air is as close as we'll get.
i found the postscript diminishing the book though. the author defends his book in length which i found unnecessary considering he never attempted to explain the actions of others and also praised them in equal quantities throught the text. Jon Krakauer himself questions the risks involved in having a jounalist as part of the expedition, i prefer to question the risks of not having one present.
the book, whilst no doubt appealing to budding mountaineers, is equally enjoyable to those who relish good narrative non-fiction.
5.0 out of 5 stars Where do I sign up for the next expedition,
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)Although Jon Krakauer had been writing for Outside magazine for serveral years, and had published several novels, this is the book that put him on the literary map. Krakauer's first hand account of the Mt. Everest tragedy which claimed the lives of serveral mountain guides and their clients is a riveting tale of man against nature. It is also a cautionary tale of just how things can go wrong when the proper warning signs are not heeded.
On the whole, this book is well written. Krakauer's writing style is such that it easy to start reading this book and forget that you have a non-fiction book in your hands.
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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (Paperback - Oct 19 1999)
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