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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.
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Critic Reviews



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

"No added dramatics are needed for the listener to imagine the high-altitude cold, fear, bravado and sense of total isolation felt by all who were trapped beyond help, as well as by those who survived. Franklin’s emulations of the multinational voices of guides, clients and Sherpas bring one still closer to the action." ( AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By karen on 06-06-16

Incredible. Horrifying. Amazing.

I'm definitely a flat-lander, never had even the slightest interest in climbing anything higher than my bed, so this book was an odd choice for me. I bought it because I'd just finished listening to -- and loving -- Junger's "A Perfect Storm", when some cookie-wizard said if I like "disaster books", maybe I'd like this one. Well, sure, why not? (For the record, John McDonald's "Condominium" is the best book I've ever read on what it's like to be in a hurricane. Loved that one, too, so I guess I do like "disaster books.")

I'm not sure what I expected with this one -- I wasn't aware of this particular disastrous climb before, although I certainly do remember various magazine spreads showing people doing silly things like climbing to 29,000 feet -- not when passenger airplanes normally cruises at about 30,000 feet. You mean as you're flying along, someone could be outside your window, there, looking in? Well, maybe not. Not without some conditioning, but still.... Why would someone do something like that?

I still don't know. It sounds not just highly likely to be lethal, but it's also not all that pretty -- the way the base camps are described -- dirty, cluttered, thin air, poor food, people sick, barfing, gasping, wounded, struggling to survive -- don't come across as pleasant at all. But what I do know now, with more intensity than I ever expected, the vast array of really dreadful things that can happen to you when you do.

I surely didn't realize all the things that went into such a climb -- the high-altitude conditioning, the high cost (although I guess I could have figured that out) or the surprisingly large number of regular ordinary people, more or less, who decide that a climb to the top of Mt. Everest belongs on their bucket list -- sometimes the last entry, apparently.

All I can say is this: This is a heck of a book. I will most definitely listen to this one again -- maybe many times over. I was so hooked on listening that the rug I was crocheting at the time had to be completely ripped up and started over. Sometimes I'd just stop dead, and sit and listen. Few books in any genre beat this one for its "so what happened then?" quality. Listening, the only thing you know for sure is that the author survived, so that he could write the book.

Anyway, this is a really really good book. Don't miss it.

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25 of 25 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Jeffrey E. on 02-06-16

Audio version RUINED with new narrator!

This is easily one of my favorite books of all time - especially the audio version. Originally, Mr. Krakauer narrated the book which made it even better because he was emotionally attached to the story since he lived it. His narration was masterful, to say the least. I had purchased this book a couple of years ago and had listened to it twice, but after seeing the movie Everest recently, I decided to listen to it again. Since I had recently purchased a new phone, I had to re-download the book and to my horror - there is a new narrator! While he does a fine job, it is no where near the caliber of Mr Krakauer's work. I was told this was the decision of the publisher. Thanks a lot guys, you have completely ruined the audio version of this book!!!

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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