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Into Thin Air by [Krakauer, Jon]
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Into Thin Air Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,302 customer reviews

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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99 by Wayne Gretzky 99 by Wayne Gretzky

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"Intrinsically irrational" is how Jon Krakauer characterizes the compulsion to climb Mount Everest in his audiobook Into Thin Air. The highly publicized fates of the May 1996 Everest expeditions, including the tragic loss of 12 lives, seem to bear out Krakauer's statement. Listening to Krakauer read his own account of the events in this unabridged version adds a uniquely intimate and thought-provoking dimension to the tragedy. Although Krakauer reads his account with journalistic professionalism, it's impossible to forget that you are listening to someone unburdening himself of a great weight, an unburdening that sometimes nearly approaches a confession.

Since the 1980s, more and more "marginally qualified dreamers" have attempted the ascent of Everest, as guided commercial expeditions have dangled the possibility of reaching the roof of the world in front of anyone wealthy enough to pay for the privilege. In 1996, Outside magazine asked Krakauer, a frequent contributor, to write a piece on the commercialization of Everest, and Krakauer signed on as a member of New Zealander Rob Hall's expedition. The disastrous outcome of the 1996 expedition forced Krakauer to write a very different article.

Those who read Krakauer's book may wonder whether the audiobook can possibly shed more light on the unfortunate events. It does. Krakauer's chronicle is chilling and horrifying. He recounts with excruciating detail the physical and mental cost of such a climb. Even under the best of circumstances, each step up the ice-clad mountain is monumentally exhausting, and the oxygen-deprived brain loses the ability to make reliable judgements. And on May 10, 1996, when Hall's expedition and several others made their summit assault, the conditions were far from ideal. The mountain was so "crowded" that climbers had to wait their turn near the summit while their bottled oxygen dwindled by the minute. By afternoon a blinding hurricane-force storm had stranded a number of climbers on the highest, most exposed reaches of the mountain.

By writing and reading Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons and lay to rest some of the painful questions that still surround the event. He takes great pains to provide a balanced picture of the people and events he witnessed and gives due credit to the tireless and dedicated Sherpas. He also avoids blasting easy targets such as Sandy Pittman, the wealthy socialite who brought an espresso maker along on the expedition. Krakauer's highly personal inquiry into the catastrophe provides a great deal of insight into what went wrong. But for Krakauer himself, further interviews and investigations only lead him to the conclusion that his perceived failures were directly responsible for a fellow climber's death. Clearly, Krakauer remains haunted by the disaster, and although he relates a number of incidents in which he acted selflessly and even heroically, he seems unable to view those instances objectively. In the end, despite his evenhanded and even generous assessment of others' actions, he reserves a full measure of vitriol for himself. (Running time: 467 minutes; six tapes)

From School Library Journal

Heroism and sacrifice triumph over foolishness, fatal error, and human frailty in this bone-chilling narrative in which the author recounts his experiences on last year's ill-fated, deadly climb. Thrilling armchair reading.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3920 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307475255
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1st edition (Nov. 12 1998)
  • Sold by: Random House Canada, Incorp.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1ITK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,302 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,131 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Very good book. It was a great discover to find this book at home. I picked it up without expectations, but it was a real surprise.
Krakauer writes in a very good way, it is simple and quite concise. It gets to the point. But it also gives you a lot of 'parallel-info'; information you really apreciate while reading. I found myself many times going back trough the pages looking for a particular description, either of a place or somebody.
What happened that year on Everest is a big tragedy. Of course there are worst things almost everyday in Africa, India, Indonesia or Bangladesh, but the surroundings, the whole story is the sort of thing that makes you wonder about what we are, what we do, and in particular, why we do it.
By the way, you must read 'The Climb' by Anatoly Boukreev after or before this (preferably after). Krakauer's words make you think the other climber was irresponsible, but in reading the russian's book you start thinking in a different way. Maybe it was just a matter of different cultures, maybe it was just that the clients did not understand the way Boukreev lived and feeled the mountain.
In any case, the best way to get into it, is reading both books.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Krakauer does a thourough and professional job of reporting with ample historic and technical background. I really have no argument with the structure or workmanship of the book. I think that I am dissapointed by the relentlessly dark narrative that concludes with a single ghastly anecdote and not a shred of hope or redemption.
"Into Thin Air" chronicles the lives and senseless deaths of people caught up in their own close-knit world of acheivement for acheivement's sake. The Everest expeditions described in this book were populated largely by wealthy people purchasing an accomplishment for a handsome fee. Their self-serving mission ends in disaster and death.
Krakauer trys, admirably, to take his share of the blame without speaking ill of the dead. At best he draws the reader into his own regrets and depression and concludes that the cimb was senseless and tragic. There is little nobility, redemption, or contribution to society in these pages; just a journal of broken dreams and needless suffering that becomes self-agrandising and distasteful. In my opinion time ill spent.
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Format: Audio Cassette
In a late Saturday afternoon, reading this book while I moved from a beach chair in the backyard to a couch next to the screen door when it started raining. The rain wasn't like pooring, yet easily noticabe everytime my thoughts escaped from the book. The sky was then even darker than a normal 5:00pm in a clear day.

If one has some imagining ability, preferably an active one, any noise around while reading this book probably would alarm that person as the echo or prelude to the storms or crying for life through out the book. Excellently written and very well edited, this is more than just a thriller that one can easily say, "All that crap was made up, anyway." Apart from personal tragidy and misfortune, the story in the book has more philosophical touches than most realized.

Commercialization is the protocol and the driving force of our morden civilization, it has swallowed everything emerged from daily life, or even life itself---heard of a Heaven's Gate pupil who went on lecture tour after failed suicide? Somehow, nature always has her revenge. In Rob Hill and Scott Fisher's case, they died as much out of their egos as out of their pursuit of market share, as much being mountaineers as being businessmen. It was a brutal, merciless event, yet after some contemplation one cannot claim it brutaler or more merciless than the consequences from global warming or excessive logging. Life goes on, but some of us may have to pay the toll for the rest of us, when they are positioned to challenge mother nature. Not have been dominating our sense all along, the dark side of the human odyssey, key-noted the entire book with its originality.

When everything quited down again, finally finishing the last chapter, I raised my head and looked around: everything man-made, everything commercialized---well, I felt much safer.
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Format: Paperback
A very haunting account, which ripples were still felt long after I put down the book. I found myself referring to the front of the book and read the 'in memory' list of people whenever I came across a new character. Knowing that this character, whom the author described so vividly, would die eventually and that this was no fiction, made it a rather heart-wrenching read. The author told us about their drive behind their love affair for Everest, their family, their personality, their commendable achievement, how each of them were coping with the preparation for the summit climb etc. I came to get interested, admire, and like these characters. There was a sense of great loss and sadness when I found out that the these characters would perish on the fateful day. Rob, Scott, Andy and Doug were some of the men whom captured your heart but eventually perished.
This was a story about men's irrational passion with the challenge of Everest and the folly which led to the men's demise in her arms. There were a lot of 'what ifs' and the desperate wish that one could turn back the clock. With hindsight, many things appeared to be so clear, so easily preventable. But logical and wise judgement was a precious but lacking element in such irrational passion to conquer.
You don't have to know or love mountaineering to appreciate the book. As a layman to mountaineering, I was constantly fascinated by the interesting information and insights littered throughout the story. The writing style was rather unpretentious and sincere. At times, I felt that the author was frustrated that mere words were not reflective of the dire situation and grievious feelings. It is also a story offers great insights to humanity and behavioural traits. It must be hard to find equally trying and intense circumstances to bring out the best and worst of mankind. I hope it enlightens me in some ways and I look forward to more such reading experience.
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