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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

4.4 (2114 )
5 star
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3 star
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Overall
4.6 (940 )
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Story
4.4 (926 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    larry 05-31-13
    larry 05-31-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disaster tale falls flat"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    For the account of the everest tragedy to recieve 4 stars would require a real author and a proper performance from a trained performer.


    What could Jon Krakauer have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    He could have had a talented author write it.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    I cannot begin to tell you how horrible the narration was. The author may be able to climb a mountain but he is definitely not suited for public reading. My gawd.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    None. A rambling disjointed style of writing combined with a terrible narration resulted in what would surely have been a great listen into utter trash.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't understand how this book got so many good reviews. Strange.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 01-09-10
    Laura 01-09-10
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    "Great adventure--poor narration"

    I loved Krakauer's account of his Everest climb, however his choice to narrate his own book falls flat, the performance is boring and delivered in a monotone. It spoiled the audio version for me.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marnie F. Biando Denver, CO 09-20-05
    Marnie F. Biando Denver, CO 09-20-05 Member Since 2005
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    "Riveting"

    The fact that the author is reading his own book was definitely a bonus. Despite not having access to the map of Everest, I was sucked into this book and enjoyed every minute of it.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald Milford, CA, USA 09-13-03
    Donald Milford, CA, USA 09-13-03
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Clear, Honest, Gripping, Fair"

    This is the first Everest Saga that I have read. It has left me wanting to find more to read and listen to. When I had finished I was sure that I had heard an honest description of what had happened. It is interesting to follow the stories of others who were mentioned, try to change what happened to releive themselves of any feelings of responsibility.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher San Anselmo, CA, USA 08-20-03
    Christopher San Anselmo, CA, USA 08-20-03
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    "best"

    Many of the books I have listened to so far have kept my interest, but none so far match the intensity of this book. At times, I sat in my driveway with the car running waiting for the chapter to finish... You will not be disappointed.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pita Miami 08-03-14
    Pita Miami 08-03-14 Member Since 2013

    Life long compulsive reader & lover of recorded books

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Gripping account of high altitude tragedy"
    Where does Into Thin Air rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. The account of the tragedy that occurred in Everest in the late nineties has more drama, suspense, etc. than any fictional story. Personally, I am extremely interested in mountaineering and in high altitude climbing in the Himalayas so I found this a fascinating read.


    What other book might you compare Into Thin Air to and why?

    The particular events described in this book generated several books. "The Climb", which is another eye witness account is also interesting and it presents a different point of view. Without getting into accuracy issues, I personally thought that "Into Thin Air" was better written and made for better listening.


    What about Jon Krakauer’s performance did you like?

    I generally enjoy when this type of story is narrated by the author (who in this particular case was recounting events he lived).


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    03-15-13
    03-15-13 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "WHY! WHY! WHY!"
    What did you love best about Into Thin Air?

    True and descriptive. you know the end, but cant believe it even then


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    man versus nature


    Any additional comments?

    sound quality was not the best

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Lawrence, KS, United States 07-29-11
    Jennifer Lawrence, KS, United States 07-29-11 Member Since 2011

    Jenna

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    "Lucid Narrative, Surprisingly Well-Delivered"

    An accessible and intelligible discussion of the Everest catastrophe. Krakauer avoids climbing minutiae and terminology to offer laymen a clear portrait of the logistical, physical, and emotional trials that confront climbers on Everest. His vivid sketches of the principal personalities give flesh, bones, and breath to the death toll; he also offers a nuanced, even painful evaluation of the ways in which the exacting, often brutal norms of high altitude climbing conflict with the commercialization and democratization of the sport.

    All of which is as true of the book as the audio. But what the audio offers that the book cannot is the chance to hear the author render his account himself. Krakauer doesn't offer a flawless narration, but his intimacy with the material and steady, unflinching delivery are worth the fumbled accents. Though some elements (particularly the prefatory quotes at the beginning of each chapter) don't transfer well from the page, it's worth it to hear Krakauer acknowledge his own failures and mistakes, his voice bleak, subtly strained. Whatever you think of his performance on the mountain, it must have taken great courage to make so public an accounting.

    One puzzling element of the book also becomes clearer through Krakauer's delivery: after spending an entire book chronicling the countless errors, misjudgments, moments of heroism and of inaction, he does an abrupt about-face in his final chapter to suggest that post-mortem attempts to reconstruct events or to adjust policies on the mountain are misguided--futile because of the essential dangers of the sport, and the unpredictability of weather and terrain. He's right, but it's only hearing him speak the words that it becomes clear that this isn't a reversal so much as the bitter realization of all his writing.

    I was left hoping that he'd found some peace in the decade and a half since the disaster--and equally sure that if he has, it didn't come from this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Halle Scott 06-02-10
    Halle Scott 06-02-10 Member Since 2009
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    "It was ok."

    Just personal preference. I don't like straight narration...

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louis Flushing, NY, USA 05-25-09
    Louis Flushing, NY, USA 05-25-09
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    "I don't even like sporting & adventure stories"

    Incredible story told with incredible perfection! This book would be well worth four credits but you are getting it for only one! DO NOT pass this story up...it is like Krakauer was born to tell this amazing story...every single thought and every single word weaves an unforgettable account of a human story that will deeply touch everyone, I'm convinced, in many different ways.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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