Into Thin Air

· Sold by Vintage
532 reviews

About this ebook

#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The epic account of the storm on the summit of Mt. Everest that claimed five lives and left countless more—including Krakauer's—in guilt-ridden disarray. 

"A harrowing tale of the perils of high-altitude climbing, a story of bad luck and worse judgment and of heartbreaking heroism." —PEOPLE

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. 

By writing 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.

This updated trade paperback edition of Into Thin Air includes an extensive new postscript that sheds fascinating light on the acrimonious debate that flared between Krakauer and Everest guide Anatoli Boukreev in the wake of the tragedy.  "I have no doubt that Boukreev's intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in the postscript, dated August 1999. "What disturbs me, though, was Boukreev's refusal to acknowledge the possibility that he made even a single poor decision. Never did he indicate that perhaps it wasn't the best choice to climb without gas or go down ahead of his clients." As usual, Krakauer supports his points with dogged research and a good dose of humility. But rather than continue the heated discourse that has raged since Into Thin Air's denouncement of guide Boukreev, Krakauer's tone is conciliatory; he points most of his criticism at G. Weston De Walt, who coauthored The Climb, Boukreev's version of events. And in a touching conclusion, Krakauer recounts his last conversation with the late Boukreev, in which the two weathered climbers agreed to disagree about certain points. Krakauer had great hopes to patch things up with Boukreev, but the Russian later died in an avalanche on another Himalayan peak, Annapurna I.

In 1999, Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters--a prestigious prize intended "to honor writers of exceptional accomplishment."  According to the Academy's citation, "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.  His account of an ascent of Mount Everest has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind."

Ratings and reviews

532 reviews
Andrew DiGeronimo
August 13, 2014
I have no idea if he on the mountain or just talking about stories of himself on the mountain. Plus it took me 4x longer to finish this book... In fact I didn't finish the book. 4 ebook page flips= 1 whole page! That takes way too long! I was so excited to read this while I didn't have to go to the library and find this. Now I wished that I bought an actual book. The first time and last time I'm reviewing an ebook. Just get the regular book. Now I have to borrow a book and read last minute for school.
Did you find this helpful?
A Google user
June 13, 2011
There is not much I can say after reading this monstrosity of a novel. When reading this sorry, pitiful excuse for a book, I felt myself going through feeling of anguish, disgust, and fatigue on an unimaginable scale. I never again want to experience the pain and suffering I experienced while engrossed in this terrible, agonizing work of literature. After putting myself through months of therapy, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to get this horrifying experience out of my mind forever is to receive a full frontal lobotomy. And if that doesn't work, suicide is the only way. You see, this book had a profound and long lasting effect not only on my conscience, but on my mental health as a whole. Never again will I be able to view life as I used to before reading this book. Never again will I be able to enjoy the simple pleasures brought to me by enjoyable activities. My life, as well as my mental well being has been tarnished forever by this particular book. The true name of Satan has been revealed to me, and that name is Jon Krakauer.
Did you find this helpful?
Taro Muso
January 22, 2015
One of the few books I read all night long at the cost of not sleeping. As good as the Foundation and Dune series, but this one is a story about actual events. I read the paperback.
4 people found this review helpful
Did you find this helpful?

About the author

Jon Krakauer is the author of eight books and has received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. According to the award citation, "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer."

Rate this ebook

Tell us what you think.

Reading information

Smartphones and tablets
Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.
Laptops and computers
You can listen to audiobooks purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.
eReaders and other devices
To read on e-ink devices like Kobo eReaders, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Follow the detailed Help Center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.