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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster » User review

Exciting Social Darwinism

  • Sep 27, 1999
  • by
Pros: Reads like a childhood adventure book, has an ending

Cons: Self-indulgence paraded as heroism, nauseating

This is what one of my grandfathers referred to as an 'aeroport book' -- buy it while waiting for your flight, read it on the plane, pitch it or lose it or just pass it along when you reach your destination; not something worth keeping on your shelf. You know, like magazines.

In this case, a weirdly self-indulgent and short-sighted magazine. Here is the plot:

Spoiled yuppies (plus people working for them) encounter danger
And yet more danger
Plus a lot of really obvious signs that it's not a good idea
Including people dying all over the place
Stupid yuppies push on
Many stupid yuppie lives lost

This isn't a book about real adventurers, but about ego-driven people with enough money that they thought it reasonable to pay somebody to bring them up Mt Everest -- Krakauer makes most of the group, himself included, seem sufficiently thick-skulled that you have to assume they started on this jaunt to have a good story for cocktail parties. (There is some pretense at accomplishment and goals and so on, but the shallow ego-fulfillment is transparent.)

All of which makes for a good yarn, of course. If you can overlook the genuine tragedy that passes for literature nowadays and pretend it's fiction (which large parts of it may well be, given the author's self-confessed muddle-headedness), this is up there with...Hardy Boys books. Wow, cool, are they going to make it? I have to finish this chapter before bed to find out WHO DIES!! I admit to reading all the way through, though with an ever-increasing sense of deja vu thanks to the similarity of the later chapters: bad thing VERY BAD THING danger DEATH! Oh, jeez. You wonder how ill-advised these people were, and start having a hard time feeling sorry for them. There is nothing heroic, or even particularly noteworthy, about people dying through their own greed, or having a hair-raising time risking death on an overblown budget. Krakauer didn't seem to grasp that he and his fellow climbers are more middle-class equivalents of Richard Branson. (Perhaps Bill Gates will finance his own trip to the moon, and we can all look on in the same way we do at celebrity deaths, prodigal children, and 'Into Thin Air.')


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review by . June 16, 2010
No one recounts adventure disasters better than Jon Krakauer. After reading this account, I felt a deeper understanding and appreciation of the difficulties of climbing Mt. Everest.  Mr. Krakauer was on this trip, but because of oxygen deprivations, he admits he can not be sure what actually happened at times.      
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Krakauer's classic. He is an incredible journalist, and does a great job chronicling everything his interest draws him to.
Quick Tip by . June 19, 2010
very good
Quick Tip by . June 18, 2010
To get the most out of this book, please read the January 1981 edition of the National Geographic magazine or the December 1980 editions of Time or some other national magazine to get an idea of how catostrophic this diaster was.
review by . December 29, 2009
This review is to help people understand the differences between the paperback version of Mr. Krakauer's book and the 'illustrated' version. (So much has been written about the content, that it hardly seems worth putting down my own paltry thoughts about Jon's Everest adventure.)    The first difference, of course, is the size. The 'illustrated' version is 9.1 x 8.8 inches, and is about 1 inch thick. Hardback, the book weighs 3.5 pounds, which is to say it's pretty hefty.     …
review by . November 15, 2009
Pros: The story is an exciting one      Cons: Lack of perspective, structure is a bit spastic      The Bottom Line: I like Krakauer's work, but this book is weak despite the subject matter.  For reasons explained in the review, I am lukewarm about recommending, but I won't dismiss it either.      The bookstore I use (and it isn’t alone), puts Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air in the travel section. A goodly portion …
review by . November 01, 2008
Into Thin Air
Jon Krakauer takes you for a front seat ride up the deadly slopes of Mount Everest, during the notoriously deadly expedition of May 1996. Barely escaping the mountain with his own life, journalist Krakauer remembers the team members and friends left on the mountain. Four out of eleven members died on the fatal mountain.     Inch by weary inch, step by shivering step, Krakauer takes us on his journey up Everest and introduces us to the members of his team. This book is so well …
review by . June 05, 2003
Perhaps timing is everything, but don't tell that to Jon Krakauer, an outdoors writer and mountain climber who was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to climb Mount Everest; only to find himself in the middle of the most notable catastrophe to ever strike the mountain. With the 50th anniversary of the successful assent by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, there is renewed interest in Chomolungma (the Tibetan name for the mountain. Previous to the second half of the twentieth century, Everest …
review by . January 09, 2000
Pros: The glory of it all     Cons: The loss of it all     I gotta tell you the truth, I never real books like this. I am a King/Koontz fan. Blood and guts, that's my style. I buy books by the cover only so naturally "Into Thin Air" equaled kidnapping to me!       Boy was I surprised!      I usually have two or three books going at the same time (talk about plot confusion) so when I opened this one up and started …
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K. Mennie ()
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Into Thin Air is a riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest. In March 1996,Outsidemagazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead. Krakauer's book is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end. Written within months of the events it chronicles,Into Thin Airclearly evokes the majestic Everest landscape. As the journey up the mountain progresses, Krakauer puts it in context by recalling the triumphs and perils of other Everest trips throughout history. The author's own anguish over what happened on the mountain is palpable as he leads readers to ponder timeless questions.
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ISBN-10: 0385494785
ISBN-13: 978-0385494786
Author: Jon Krakauer
Genre: Nonfiction, True Accounts
Publisher: Anchor (October 19, 1999)
Date Published: (October 19, 1999)
Format: Paperback: 368 pages, Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1 inches
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