2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2015
well done. but
1) too bad Jon Krakauer had to play reporter throughout it all- and the writing was detached as a result of that /or maybe just that he has a passionless, bland quality in his own personality that seeped out in his writing... that said the quality of writing is great..it was had a flat monotonous tone almost...
2) in true american style the characters are described as charicatures.. probably again he didn't bother or care to get to know them well or on any deep level ( which is an ugly american trait this kind of superficiality and self absorption- worse in other climbing books by americans for sure..) ...so i didn't care when any of the people died. but when you're writing a book like this...i should care. at least about a few of them. but they were written about in such a two dimensional way that i didn't care.
3) he seemed to miss the major axis of the "story" i thought which would have brought more pathos, and even drama to the narrative ...He minimized the very moving and very dramatic story with Rob Hall who from what it sounds like from the documentaries I happened to watch later - who seems he literally sacrificed his life to help his client he came to care about Doug. Rob Hall sounds like a remarkable soulful and caring person, ...too bad Krakauer doesn't really seem to even take notice of his final act of compassionate heroism ( despite Hall's mistakes as a guide)..
3 ) At times i got a bit mixed up near the end as the writing became disjointed- as to who was where and who was with who...
4) Although his assessments I think were correct, especially regarding Bukreev, he should still also reward his acts of heroism despite his terrible mistakes.He did save three people's lives and didn't even flinch as he waltzed up into that storm.
the good ? great critical assessments, great writing, thorough, thoughtful and a very objective account by a man who lived through it. Also i found he didn't bring his ego in to it and showed great- self objectivity as well.
It's a story you will never forget.
on November 24, 2005
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.
on July 1, 2004
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.
on April 29, 2004
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.
on March 17, 2004
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.
on January 20, 2004
Into Thin Air is a compelling and entrapping book that keeps the reader guessing and terrified through the whole book. The book starts off with Jon Krakauer already being at the top of Mount Everest, considered the top of the world, and heading back down for more oxygen. When heading down though one of his friends accidentally messes up his oxygen tank and he has to go down to the second level without oxygen at all. Jon Krakauer starts the book with this beginning event that makes the reader want to know what happens next. This type of story and writing made me read the whole book in one sitting. When I thought I was coming up on a breaking point in the book, another tragedy would seem to happen. Also Jon gives great details about what you should do and what you shouldn't do when climbing Mount Everest. As he is giving his terrifing experience as a Russian guide to the top of Mount Everest, he talks about other events that have happened on the mountain. He tells the story about Goran Kropp biking and climbing Mount Everest on the side as he keeps telling his own struggle up the mountain. I loved how he describes the climb where the reader can feel like he's doing it too. Jon will wipe his goggles or talks about pain that feels like being kicked in the ribs, and these details allow the reader to follow right along in the book. Even though this book wasn't my favorite, I still loved it and would recommend it to any reader who loves an exciting and real life thriller that keeps you flipping the pages till the very end.
on December 29, 2003
An event as big as the 1996 Everest disaster is always going to be difficult to convey with any accuracy, due, as Krakauer himself says, to the inconsistencies of memory, especially when above 26,000 feet where everyone is suffering from hypoxia. That said, however, Krakauer does a masterful job of portraying his own struggles on the mountain. Furthermore, with a little conjecture based on his first-hand knowledge of the mountain and the people involved, he does make some seemingly-accurate suppositions on the whys and the wherefores of the event.
The book starts really slowly. I found it a struggle to get through the first 150 pages, because we meet the people, we meet the mountain, we meet Jon Krakauer, and it seems merely to plod along. It is when the book enters its description of the May 10 summit push that it really comes into its own. While the first 150 pages feel unnecessary when you read them, once you hit the climax, you find that without those 150 pages you wouldn't know the people so intimately and thus the tragedy would not feel quite so shocking and heart-rending.
The trouble with Krakauer's writing is that he appears to sit on a fence regarding opinion while in actuality he does anything but. In 'Into Thin Air', as with 'Into The Wild', he dodges making any explicit assertions, and yet in the way he writes you can sense his unspoken prejudices coming through. Not that there is anything wrong with having an opinion - Joe Simpson openly fills his books with his own prejudices - but Krakauer pretends to be objective and then by, for example, quoting somebody else giving an opinion and juxtaposing it with a description of action, reveals himself to be as opinionated as any writer. For example, after quoting somebody that it is 'irresponsible' for a guide not to use supplemental oxygen, he innocently mentions that Anatoli Boukreev declined to use supplemental oxygen. Later, because of his apparent dislike for Boukreev, he underplays that Boukreev, despite making it all the way to the summit and back, also went out into the storm to rescue three people, and on the next day climbed back up the mountain in the storm to try and rescue Scott Fischer while Krakauer was lying unconscious in his tent. Not that I am criticising Krakauer for his exhaustion - I am in no position to judge - but after vilifying Boukreev's 'poor judgement' more than once throughout the narrative, it would have been fair to then give him some credit for what amounted to a superhuman effort up on that mountain. And let's face it, if Boukreev was being 'irresponsible' because lack of oxygen weakened him, how come he did more than any other individual on that mountain? There is little evidence of his hypoxia-induced weakness, especially when one considers that a month before Boukreev was killed in an avalanche on Annapurna, he was awarded the David Sowles Memorial Award for his valour on May 10 and May 11, 1996. While Krakauer may think that Boukreev was irresponsible, the climbing world in general vehemently disagrees.
In the main, this is a great if inconsistent book. It is an event that will always hold terrific sway in the minds of mountaineers and the general public alike. If you liked reading about this event, and want views that both supplement and criticise Krakauer's view, then Joe Simpson's 'Dark Shadows Falling', Matt Dickinson's 'The Death Zone', and Beck Weathers' own 'Left For Dead' are great to read alongside this book.
on October 21, 2003
The book Into Thin Air is the story of a 1996 expedition gone wrong on the mountain of Everest written by John Krakauer. The true story is a gripping look into the mountain's character and the character of the climbers. The book has drama and a great hook. Based on a true story the group finds problems along the way. Weather and sickness runs through the group as they scale the mountain. The book reaches a conclusion as they reach the summit of Everest. There is a twist along the way. The group suddenly finds themselves in a snow storm just below the summit. The storm ravished the camp and members of the team. The accounts of bravery and heroism keep the book interesting. You get the feeling you are there with the climbers on Everest. The climbers had nothing but a dream to go by there will kept the team strong. This book is very interesting and is a must read for adventure readers. Four stars, an Excellent book.
The Author portrays a true story using a unique group of people with a similar dream. The goal to climb Everest is strong and the stores of each person have a similar value. There are excellent accounts of bravery displayed with detail and the feelings of the group through what they had encountered on Everest. The life of the sherpas and the group are all told clearly with detail so you can really feel a connection to there livelihood. The story is well written with unique style and a unique edge. The story will keep you entertained and wanting to read on. The hooks are felt all along the story, and gives you stamina to keep you reading.
on September 11, 2003
Into Thin Air is a well-written book. Krakauer has an effective way of painting a stunning picture of Everest while at the same time representing how dangerous the expedition is. He also shows a lot of emotion in his writing when talking about his own experiences and how scared he was at certain times. This makes the book more enduring to people and more readable. Also, I feel Krakauer is trying to dissuade weekend climbers from paying 60,0000 dollars to get up Everest. He does this by going to pain staking detail about the dangerous while giving life to his pain and anguish, physical and emotional. This being said, I think that sometimes his emotions get the best of him and cloud his objective perspective when it comes to certain aspects of the expedition. He writes about Scott Fischers as if he were a member of it when in reality he did not have that much contact with them and his writing about Boukreev is a little skewed. Overall this book hits the mark and is heartfelt explanation of the tragedy on Everest.
on April 29, 2003
Into thin air is mainly a book about how far your own determination and dreams can take you. Most people would say that the first chapters in the book are extremely boring because it went and described the most important people on the expidition, including the guides. I liked the first few chapters for the same reason, and also because it gave you a better link with people who climbed up the fateful expidition in 1996.
For a lot of the people on the expidition of Everest it was a dream come true. Especially for Yasuko Namba who was one of the slowest climbers and the one with the least experience, the one who was always at the back of the line; but she always went through another day determined to reach the summit. There was also Becker who had climbed Everest the year before and decided to give it another try, eventhough he had eye surgery which literally blinded him at high altitudes and 23000 is high altitude; but he kept climbing making sure his footsteps matched the guide's footsteps in front of him.
Everyone in the book had a reason to want to climb the mountain for the author Jon it was his lifelong dream that he had put off his whole life and the chance to write an article on the expidition was an excuse for him to finally climb Everest. For others like Doug Hanson there first time was a flop and they were determined that round two would allow them to reach the summit.