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Into Thin Air | [Jon Krakauer]

Into Thin Air

The definitive, personal account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed journalist and author of Into the Wild. Read by the author. Also, hear a Fresh Air interview with Krakauer conducted shortly after his ordeal.
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Publisher's Summary

Into Thin Air is the definitive, personal account of the deadliest season in the history of Everest by the acclaimed journalist and author of Eiger Dreams and Into the Wild. On assignment for Outside magazine, Krakauer, an accomplished climber, went to the Himalayas to report on the growing commercialization of the planet's highest mountain. Everest has always been a dangerous mountain. From the first British expeditions in the 1920s until 1996, one climber has died for ever 4 who have attained the summit. This shocking death toll has not put a damper on the burgeoning business of guided ascents, however, in which amateur alpinists with alarmingly disparate skills are ushered up the mountain for a $65,000 fee. To ascend into the thin, frigid air above 26,000 feet - the cruising altitude of a commercial jetliner - is an inherently irrational act. The environment is unimaginably harsh, the margin for error miniscule. Krakauer examines what it is about Everest that has compelled so many people - including himself - to throw caution to the wind, ignore the concern 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 frank eyewitness account of what happened on the roof of the world is a singular achievement.

©1997 Jon Krakauer; (P)1997 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, A Division of Random House Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award Winner, Best Audio of 1998, Best of the Best
    Alex Award Winner, 1998

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (2128 )
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4.4 (938 )
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  •  
    MICHAEL J NICOLLS Swansea, IL USA 09-18-04
    MICHAEL J NICOLLS Swansea, IL USA 09-18-04 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well done Jon. You've set a standard!"

    Jon's work is captivating and educational. When reaching the last CD I so much did not want it to end that I decided not to listen to it rather, I would start it over, keeping it fresh and alive. The second time around was as compelling as the first. I indeed finished the second go around having felt the Everest adventure and it's participants were a part of me.

    I have listened to it many times since.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alison Venice, CA, USA 02-26-04
    Alison Venice, CA, USA 02-26-04
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    "very raw, very good"

    This is an excellent read/hear. I am not a mountain climber or an Everest nut, yet this book really made me get it. The real emotion is what makes it so universal.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Arlington, TX, United States 04-10-05
    Chris Arlington, TX, United States 04-10-05 Member Since 2003

    Likes any genre so long as it is done well.

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    "Staed awake listening to it."

    I had real reservations about getting this, seemed like it could be dry and technical. It certainly was not. Very gripping, very detailed, excellent listen. Narration was excellent.

    This really lets you come away with a sense of adventure, but also the foolishness of some people, when hubris gets in the way.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 08-25-13
    Chrissie Brussels, Belgium 08-25-13 Member Since 2011
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    "The 1996 Everest Disaster"

    I am just one of many readers. When I give this book two stars it most accurately answers the question how did I react to the book. This is how I rate all my books. This book was OK! That is what 2 stars is said to mean on GR! That does not mean it was bad. I will explain why I have reacted as I did so hopefully you can more easily determine how you may react to the book. Why all this explanation? Because I am thinking that if I only give this book two stars that will give an unfavorable impression, and it isn’t a bad book. I am tired of everyone rating books favorably when that is not really how they reacted to the book. You see it all the time. People say they liked the book, and then give it a five star rating. A five star book is supposed to be amazing. You are supposed to leave a five star book dazzled. Sorry for that long-winded explanation, but this has been bugging me.

    Jon Kraukauer is a journalist who has written for the sports magazine Outside. His climb of Mt. Everest was initiated by a request for an article on the commercialization of the mountain, the highest in the world. Such an article preceded the writing of this book, and it sets the tone for the book. I was unaware that the commercialization of Mt. Everest would be a central theme of the book. I was unaware that the book would be directed toward mountaineers and sport enthusiasts, that being because it grew from the article in the sports magazine. If you are a mountaineer yourself, you will be more interested in the detailed exposition of who has climbed which mountains and when and with which equipment. (I prefer trekking and I am not gear oriented.) The history of climbing is interesting, but here you get a rundown of each climber’s accomplishments and failures. I couldn’t keep all the different “big names” straight, and there are many, both in this excursion and in the numerous others mentioned. This information interrupts the telling of what happened in the 1996 Everest disaster, which is what drew me to the book. Who were at fault? Why did it happen What can be done to improve safety? Is there one answer? No, of course not. Sandy Pittman/Sandra Hill has written articles and spoken of her view of what happened. There is also Anatoli Boukreev’s book : The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest. In his book, Krakauer clearly criticizes Boukreev, but it was Boukreev who saved Sandy’s life. All three were there, along with so many others.

    Climbing Mt. Everest has become a business, a commodity to be sold, and on that day when the storm hit there were so many people there were bottlenecks and queues up there near the summit. Mountaineering, at least on Everest, is not a solitary sport! So at the bottom lies also my dislike of “the crowd” and of a sport that seems to me ridiculous. If people choose to put their lives at risk, well then they better be prepared for the consequences. Krakauer’s belief that it might be worthwhile to forbid the use of bottled gas, which enables all too many to attempt what they are untrained to do, is not a bad idea. How do you enforce that?! Do you deter people through exorbitant fees? All of this is discussed. Very little of the book is exciting, and at the end I don’t know if I have any clear answers.

    The author narrates the book himself. Not a bad job, but I did laugh at how he pronounced the Swedish mountaineer, Göran Kropp’s, first name. Someone could have told him. It is such a common name. It made me wonder if he pronounced other names incorrectly, the Sherpas’ for example.

    Finally, I think this book should have made clear what draws people to the mountaineering sport. I still don’t understand that. Krakauer just says it has an attraction for some and once you are hooked, well you are hooked! I want to understand what they feel, see, experience. I only saw the business side of the whole thing. He states that the view at Everest is unexceptional, and at high altitudes you can easily destroy your body! So why do they do it? This book never answered that question for me. It cannot be for fame or recognition because so many do not succeed. So what is it?

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucy St. Petersburg, Russia 08-13-13
    Lucy St. Petersburg, Russia 08-13-13 Member Since 2013

    I love to read. On average I read and/or listen to more than 100 books a year. Audible has been a fantastic addition to my life. Love it!

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    "Better in stereo than on paper"

    I read this in book form years ago when it was first released. I enjoyed it, but gave it maybe three stars. I recently listened to and loved Krakauer's "Under The Banner of Heaven", and -- on a Krakauer kick -- decided to give this another shot. I loved this as an audio book. I think that Krakauer is best enjoyed read in his own voice. I recommend this to first time readers and to anyone who has read, but not heard, the story.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 05-05-13
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 05-05-13 Member Since 2010

    Audio-addict!!

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    "Exceptional! Authors tells the story as he saw it."

    My god! What a tragic story! This is the story of most well-known tragediy on Everest in my living memory: the 1996 Everest attempts.
    Jon Krakauer was is a magazine journalist and an author of many excellent books. His story on Pat Tillman is fascinating, and his book Under the Banner of Heaven is a favorite of mine. Into The Wild received so much fan and critical success that they made a movie.

    This book is if different, though. He was on one of the two ill-fated expeditions that shared a common fate. An amazing story told by the author. I never really like to listen to the author read, but it definitely works here!

    Because Jon Krakauer wrote this only 6 months after the disaster, it has an intensity that is rare. Krakauer was dealing with a tremendous amount of survival guilt. I only hope he is me a man at peace.

    A must read!!

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Doug mountain view, CA, USA 06-15-09
    Doug mountain view, CA, USA 06-15-09
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    "First audiobook, great choice"

    I have too much too read and too little time to read it all. So audio sounded like a great solution, listen on the plane, car, bicycling, whatever. And my degree a few decades ago was English Lit, and I've been an award winning magazine writer so I have decent taste. And I don't care about mountain climbing but, the reviews of this were good, I liked that it would be read by the author and .. wow. He's amazingly articulate, perfect somber delivery for the nature of this book. Tells a story I had no clue about and tells it so well, I've learned about a subject and a place I knew nothing about, much to my joy. Highly recommend this book and most highly as, like me, your first audible book choice. Enjoy. Oh and it's 7 hours, you really get your money's worth!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amy Clinton, NY, USA 06-24-07
    Amy Clinton, NY, USA 06-24-07
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    "Great Book"

    I absolutely loved this book. I find his writing very entertaining with great descriptions. I loved almost everything about this book. I would love to meet the author. If you like this book, I would recommend "Into the Wild" another of his novels.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. McCoy Viginia Beach, VA USA 07-12-06
    C. McCoy Viginia Beach, VA USA 07-12-06 Member Since 2002

    FSX Pilot

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    "Reader was boring"

    This book is undoubtedly engaging tale of tragedy and seems to be historically accurate. However, this audio book is proof if there ever was that authors should not read their own books for distribution. I truly wanted to get through this book, its documentation of the history of moutain climbing alone was most interesting, but I was put to sleep by the author's dull monotone, expressionless voice. Fortunately, the iPod Nano has a fast speed setting for situations like this, I thought. But even on fast play, the reading was just plain boring to death, despite the interesting material. Perhaps with a talented actor reading it I would have been able to enjoy the book. I marvel that others were able to listen to it and rate it so highly. If there were a 1.5 star selection thats as high as I would have rated it because of the dull reading.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steve Anderson Dallas, TX 01-03-05
    Steve Anderson Dallas, TX 01-03-05 Member Since 2003
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    "My favorite all-time audio book"

    This is one of my favorite books and I have given print or Audible copies to at least a dozen friends. I respect the honesty and accuracy that Krakauer strives for and hearing the book in his own voice makes it more real. I've read several books on Everest and the 1996 tragedy. Eiger Dreams is also an enjoyable book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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