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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about a terrible event...
It's hard to use superlatives when talking about such a tragic story, but Jon Krakauer's account of his journey up Mt. Everest in May of 1996 is a wonderful piece of writing. From start to finish, this book is fantastic, compelling reading.
In 1996, Krakauer was a writer for Outside Magazine, and had been sent on an expedition to climb Everest. An experienced...
Published on June 21 2004 by Brent Wigen

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3.0 out of 5 stars From Dull To Exciting
Into Thin Air was a book that has its moments to keep readers very interested. I would have to say that the first 200 pages or so of the book I found quite dull. For the most part, the book discussed the South African expedition along with the IMAX and any political implications that were involved. Along with this being said, the first half also spent little time...
Published on June 16 2003 by M. Bertha


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4.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Storm .. but on a mountain.., Nov. 24 2005
By 
D. G. Smout "www.killingmeslowly.com" ((a Brit living in..) Canada) - See all my reviews
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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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating, July 1 2004
By 
Steven Tursi (Suffern, NY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)
An incredible account of the Everest Disaster. Krakauer is an expert at including as many details as possible without being too wordy. This book reads like a novel, and in fact the story is so incredible that at times you have to remind yourself that it is non-fiction. I appreciated the vivid pictures he painted of the important people in this book, a talent for which he is as skilled as the best contemporary fiction writers. Reading the book, you can grow so fond of some of the more likeable characters that you feel a deep sense of sadness when you read about their passing. In a sense, Krakauer has accomplished the difficult task of explaining in laymen's terms the technical aspects of high-altitude mountaineering (which is necessary in a book like this), and somehow also gave the reader a sense of the profound grief of the situation. This is something that is lost among the litany of newspaper articles, less-talented writers, and the controversy of conflicting accounts fails to do.
Oh yes, the controversy. I suppose that it is inevitable that when you're dealing with this magnitude a disaster, with equally-high magnitude of some mountaineers' egos, you're going to get arguments. Unfortunately, Krakauer has been sucked into this and actually has devoted a portion of the book to responding to someone's complaint about his account. Frankly, it reads like an internet message board flamewar, and it detracts from an amazing book. Hopefully, a year from now when I think back about this book, I'll remember not the controversy but rather people like Rob Hall, one of the people who died on the mountain.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about a terrible event..., June 21 2004
By 
Brent Wigen (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)
It's hard to use superlatives when talking about such a tragic story, but Jon Krakauer's account of his journey up Mt. Everest in May of 1996 is a wonderful piece of writing. From start to finish, this book is fantastic, compelling reading.
In 1996, Krakauer was a writer for Outside Magazine, and had been sent on an expedition to climb Everest. An experienced climber, Krakauer joined a team full of climbers of varous skill levels and led by Rob Hall, the most reputable guide in the business, for his journey up the mountain and summit attempt on May 10. When the following day came, Krakauer found that several of his companions (including--eventually--Hall) were dead, and the survivors were hanging onto life by a slim margin, fighting fatigue and the elements in Everest's 'Death Zone.'
In this book, Krakauer recounts the expedition from his perspective, and tries to identify the circumstances and events that led to the disaster high on the mountain. He attempts to recreate the series of events and decisions that led to so many deaths, and manages to find fault with just about everyone on the mountain, including himself, without being too harsh on anyone. It would seem that the effects of high altitude, along with "summit fever," were the prime culprits, and Krakauer delivers that point gently and with respect to his fallen companions.
Everest is a brutally Darwinian environment, and Krakauer's descriptions of the harsh climate and lonely deaths of his friends make for some of the most compelling reading in the book. He writes of the loneliness of his companions' final moments, in the dark and exposed to the elements, stranded (in some cases) mere minutes from shelter; a saddening and vivid reminder of the merciless nature of Everest.
I can't find fault with this book, except possibly that Krakauer speculates about what was going on in the head of other people a little more than is necessary, but it would seem that his research is solid, and his willingness to admit his mistakes goes a long way toward maintaining his credibility. Krakauer's account was assembled when the events on Everest were fresh in his mind; while he was probably still dealing with the loss of his friends and the magnitude of what he had been through. As a result, the emotion and confusion of those days on Everest were still sharp when the book was written. Krakauer's ablity to put these feelings down on paper and convey them to the reader make this a fascinating, saddening, and emotionally intense read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Page by Page Suspense, June 19 2004
By 
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)
Even if you already know the story of the deadly Mt. Everest expeditions of 1996, you will appreciate Jon Krakauer's own first person account of the Adventure Consultants and the Mountain Madness groups. Both of these expeditions were led by well-seasoned Everest climbers---Rob Hall from New Zealand and Scott Fischer from the States--and had the aid of expert guides, Sherpas from Nepal and "outsiders". But we soon find that even these experienced people are not immune from the human frailties of greed, denial and self-serving. Those Achilles' heels will cause both expeditions to completely fall apart. At the same time, human error combined with the unforgiving terrors of high altitude climbing sets the scene for heroism in many of the climbers and crew.
Krakauer, a journalist who signed on with Hall's expedition to do a story for Outside magazine, doesn't disappoint as weaver of a tale. I took the book everywhere with me while reading it, always eager to find out what would happen next.
If a book that explores deftly our desire to reach an unreachable summit appeals to you....especially when that book does not shy away from the tragedy caused when the desire to reach it undoes common sense and humanity....I highly recommend "Into Thin Air."
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read for Adventure Enthusiasts, April 29 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer/Non-Fiction; Random House, 1999:
"Reaching the top of Everest is supposed to trigger a surge of intense elation; against long odds, after all, I had just attained a goal I'd coveted since childhood. But the summit was really only the halfway point. Any impulse I might have felt toward self-congratulation was extinguished by overwhelming apprehension about the long dangerous descent that lay ahead" (189). At 1:12 p.m. on May 10th, 1996, journalist Jon Krakauer reached the top of the world. He had conquered Mt. Everest and reached the summit at 29,028 ft. After his feelings of pride and satisfaction wore off, Jon Krakauer stepped back into reality. A severe storm was forming and his supply of bottled oxygen was dwindling as the minutes passed by. He left the summit to begin his descent, entirely oblivious to the journey that lay ahead of him.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer is the true story of his heroic and tragic journey to the summit of Mt. Everest and back. From base camp at 17,600 ft., he traveled through blistering cold temperatures, harsh climates, and the most challenging terrain in the world in order to reach the summit. When he stood on top of the summit at 29,028 ft., he hadn't slept in fifty-two hours. After every step he took, he had to rest and regain his energy. Although Krakauer was part of an expedition, he often climbed by himself. The decisions that one makes up on Everest are always life or death. There is no safe way to climb the mountain; that's why people do it. They like the rush, but at the same time they know the consequences of their actions so they have to act appropriately up on the mountain. One misjudgment or even one wrong step could lead to one's own death and and/or the death of others.
Jon Krakauer's expedition had coordinated a turn around time before they began the ascent. The turn around time was 2:00 pm which meant that if they have not reached the summit by that time then they must stop and begin to descend back down the mountain. This is very smart because it gives the climbers enough time to get back down the mountain safely and out of harm's way. As Krakauer descended, a storm began to form. The turn around time was near but no one even thought about giving up any time soon. The motivation to reach the top overpowered many of the climbers' common senses. Their decision making was altered and many of the climbers used poor judgment. They would fight to the death, if they had to, through the sub-zero temperatures and gale force winds to reach the top of the mountain. They had their eyes set on the summit and the only thing to stop them was death itself.
I would recommend this book to avid readers who are interested in Mt. Everest or just serious adventure books in general. Because Into Thin Air is a true story, the difficulties the climbers faced and their consequences were described in unimaginable detail. Just reading the book gives one chills of the horrors that lay up on the mountain. To me, the book itself started off slowly while giving a plethora of background information on the mountain and introducing the expedition's characters. But once the climbers stepped onto Everest, the tempo of the book changed tremendously. I could almost feel the frigid temperatures and the pain and agony that these climbers had to endure. Every step they took could have been there last. In the end, Into Thin Air is a haunting, riveting read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars the great document book, March 26 2004
By 
Though I have read many survival books, this book is one of the best books that I felt many things. I have thought that Everest was the most difficult mount that people climbed, that is, the mount that was forgived by having storong body and tough mental and pricise judge only. But after I read this book, the thinking changed, that is, now such high and famouse montainas can be climbed, even if the climbers are people that have not climbed many mountains. Though that factors are many things, oxigen tanks and climb items of high quality, safe route that many climber have made... But recently the most importand factor will be what great guide climbers appeared in the moutain route that climbing is difficult. By using the guides in addition to Sherpas, people can climbed the moutains without difficulty.
When I read this book, though I felt the guide climbers conveniencity I felt the dangerouse things of the guide, that is to say, the thiking of the custom climber that[climbing is dangerouse act] will decline.
I think that though this time cruel accident was broken by unfortune weather, on the other hand that was broken by optimistic thinking that customs had.
This book is non fiction story from first pages to last pages. Ordinaly survival book is what the writer's thiking, opinion etc is included, but this book is all page document. Because person that want pure document story like me will be best book.
The writing is real and shocking, the fight for heavy blizzard and the shortage of oxygen tanks, or for the body temperature and air temperrature(about-60^80) attitude sickness etc. Though it is book, as if you exist there you will feel.
At last, when they had climbed to the top of the mountain, the sun was declining, neverthless down route was remained, that meant that they had to do emergency camp in the place more than 8000m, that would be incredible act.
Anyway, shocking scenes exist very much.
You can not turn your eyes away from this book.
Thank you for poor English.
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5.0 out of 5 stars BEST BOOK EVERRRRRR, March 23 2004
By 
Bob (Mendota Heights, Minnesota United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)
This is one one of the best books I have ever read,correction it IS the best book I have ever read, there are no slow parts and as soon as you start it you will never want to stop in your whole life it is incredible because it gives background information that some idiots think arent needed but just add to the amazement of the people who climbmed it that year and you will respect them forever, if you are willing to read this without being tainted by jackasses who say it was not real or say it is boring you will agree that this book will change your ------- life, as soon as I read it I wanted to climb everest myself it is written so well as he clibs you run short of breath, you may think it could be to hard for you and whatnot but Im only 13 and I understand everything in it, because of the background information you will understand whats going on.
If you read this you will never regret it and will cherish this book for the rest of your life, take 3 hours a frozen pizza sit down on your bed read and eat.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Into Thin Air, March 17 2004
By 
S. Tank (Cerritos, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)
John Krakaurs first book on Mt.Everest is about a perilous tale about the deadly climb of Mt.Everest in 1996. It was the most deadly season ever in the History of Mt.Everest. On May 10th 1996, John Krakauer reached the summit of Mt.Everest as the sky had begun to roil with clouds. He hadn't slept in 57 hours and was about to kneel over from the drugged like effect of oxygen depletion. It was at 29,028 and was the cruising altitude of an Airbus jetliner. As he began his decent down Mt.Everest as twenty other climbers were still pushing doggedly to the summit. This book is about the perilous climb up Mt.Everest in its deadliest season.
I liked the book because it didn't use vocabulary that you would have to look in the dictionary to find out. "Twenty-five minutes before midnight, I strapped on my oxygen mask, switched on my headlamp, and ascended into the darkness (page 214)."This quote is from when John Krakauer was attempting to get to the summit of Mt.Everest from camp four. The higher the camp number the higher the altitude is. It goes from base camp all the way to camp 4. Then it is so high that it is impossible to have a camp at that height. I usually dislike books that are nonfiction but this is one book that I seem to like.
I dislike the book at the end because it is very boring to read about how John Krakaurs life is, as he didn't get hurt or lose any fingers or toes. One other guy lost most of his nose, a few fingers and toes, and has to live as a handicap for the rest of his life. It doesn't seem so bad but if I was like that then I wouldn't be able to type at twenty-five words a minute. I couldn't get a job either without some fingers. The end is the most boring, as it was the epilogue. "When I last spoke to a certain teammate, his life had been thrown into turmoil." There is a good use of vocabulary, but as you can see it would be even more boring without it.
My favorite part of the book was when John Krakauer was climbing down from the summit and the twenty other climbers were still going up the humongous mountain. "Plodding up the last few steps of the summit, I had the sensation of being underwater, of life moving at quarter speed. And then I found myself atop a slender wedge of ice, adorned with a discarded oxygen cylinder and a battered aluminum survey pole, with nowhere higher to climb. A string of Buddhist prayer flags snapping furiously in the wind. Far below, a side of the mountain I had never laid eyes on, the dry Tibetan plateau stretched to the horizon as a boundless expanse of dun- colored earth (page 237-238)." It is my favorite because there is so much description about the journey down the mountain. It is also very interesting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Into Thin Air, March 13 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)
I had the good luck to meet John Krakauer here in Richardson Texas, at a slide show and discussion John did about this very climb to Everest. I think John did an exceptional job writing his account of what happend on Everest during his climb.
The Book in my opinion is excellent, will leave you gasping for air as you read the accounts of what went on, and heart broken for those who did not make the climb down.
John Krakauer is a "very modest man" and I was very impressed with the way he told the story with slides, answered questions, and he can sure hold his own. When this book was first released he took a lot of "heat" from other climbers regarding his accounts written here.
I did have the chance to remind him that "he should not feel" badly about the way things went on that climb". John does however as he expressed "have guilt" regarding the chain of events.
I don't think he realized that I had already read his book. Many folks there that night were having copies of their books signed (me too), they bought their copy at the show, I brought mine from home. I did follow this climb via internet daily with sound card etc., so I got to listen first hand to what was going on during this climb and the fateful ending. It was indeed heart breaking.
This story has it all, so incredible, exhilarating, and totally heart breaking. The Climb to Mt. Everest a disaster just waiting to happen. Too many people climbing up and decending at the same time in my opinion caused this fateful disaster.
Thumbs UP for John and his account about "what really happened".
You will enjoy this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, March 13 2004
By 
W. P. Gardner (Palo Alto, CA, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (Paperback)
I read this book when it first came out, and it made a very strong impression on me. I find myself still thinking about it a lot.
I'm not a mountain climber myself. But I am a reader. When I read some of the other reviews here, I couldn't help thinking that those people never normally read anything. Apparently they were assigned the book for a class.
They were complaining that the book is too long. Probably any book is too long for them. I guess they would have preferred to wait until the movie version came out.
I liked the personal elements in it: Krakauer is an adventurist himself and the incidents in this book forced him to reconsider why he liked to pit himself against forces of nature and risk death so often. He might have left those thoughts out of the book, but I'm glad he put them in.
I do find it hard to remember the title of this book, for some reason. When I recommend it to people it is always "that book by Jon Kracauer about the Everest expedition that got trapped".
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Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer (Paperback - Oct. 19 1999)
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