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Review: Into Thin Air

May 17, 2016

Into Thin Air

Jon Krakauer dreamed of climbing mountains ever since he was a child so he jumped at the chance to write an article about a guided climb of Mount Everest for Outside Magazine in 1996.  He was part of a group of eight climbers led by a well known guide.  Five members of their group reached the top of the mountain but only one survived to tell about it because of a violent storm that hit.  Eight people died on the mountain that day, making it the deadliest day up to that point.

Krakauer was devastated after the events but managed to get his article written in a timely manner; he later discovered errors he’d made because of the required deadline.  He couldn’t shake the expedition so he decided to write a book about it.  Many people suggested he put some distance between the events and the book but he couldn’t wait.  In true Krakauer fashion, he went to work researching the events which proved very difficult to do.  The brain is severely affected by the low levels of oxygen at such a high altitude so climbers’ memories weren’t always accurate.

I seem to be on a Jon Krakauer kick this year so I picked up Into Thin Air, his account of that deadly expedition and, let me tell you, it is a fascinating story.  I knew climbing a mountain isn’t easy but I had no idea just how difficult and complicated it is.  Krakauer goes into great detail about the ascent and descent and I was glued to it from the very beginning.  He’s quick to let readers know that, because of different memories, it’s impossible to know exactly what happened at times and he shares the most likely explanations.

Even after reading Into Thin Air, I don’t understand the desire to climb a mountain like that but I do have a new appreciation for what’s involved in an expedition.  I thought this book was terrific and recommend it to those who enjoy memoirs, nonfiction, and/or the outdoors.

The audio version is read by Philip Franklin and I thought he did a great job keeping me engaged in the story.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. Diane permalink
    May 17, 2016 7:39 am

    I think I read this years ago. Talented author for sure.

  2. May 17, 2016 8:04 am

    I enjoyed this one so much too. So interesting to learn all about the expedition… I do understand the desire to take on such a journey….which scares me a bit about myself…lol

  3. May 17, 2016 8:38 am

    I feel like I’ve read this one, but it must have been over eight years ago because it’s not on my blog. I have always been amazed at people who go through the difficulty of climbing mountains, especially after reading about it in more detail. You should read Annapurna by Arlene Blum, it’s about the first women’s team (from America) to summit Annapurna in the Himalayas (I did write about that one!).

  4. May 17, 2016 8:49 am

    I read this book last year and like you, I was blown away by how much work it actually is to climb Everest. I have other books he’s written on my TBR list.

  5. May 17, 2016 9:41 am

    I’m with Jeane. I feel like I read this but can’t find it on my blog anywhere. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t read any of the others – and evidently not this one either! It looks like I need to get in on the TBP list, though.

  6. May 17, 2016 11:30 am

    Amazing how many people,even some with disabilities, succeed in climbing Everest. I bet this is a fascinating story of a trip that was not successful!

  7. May 17, 2016 11:41 am

    Mountain climbing just doesn’t hold much fascination for me, and I think reading about such a tragic trip would be upsetting for me.

  8. May 17, 2016 1:04 pm

    I read this years ago and thought it was fascinating!

  9. Patty permalink
    May 17, 2016 2:45 pm

    I have not read it but Den did…years ago…and loved every word!

  10. May 17, 2016 3:15 pm

    I haven’t read any books about climbing mountains lately, but I did see the movie Everest a few months ago and it was so good. I might end up reading this.

  11. May 17, 2016 4:14 pm


  12. Literary Feline permalink
    May 17, 2016 6:59 pm

    I haven’t yet read this one, but I do enjoy Krakauer’s books. Hopefully someday I will get to this one.

  13. May 18, 2016 12:37 am

    This does sound fascinating! Reading this would be as close as I’d ever get to mountain climbing 🙂

  14. May 18, 2016 12:57 am


    This sounds like a very absorbing book. I haven’t read any books about mountain climbing–this might be the first one I pick up, thanks to your review!

  15. May 18, 2016 1:04 am

    I cannot see the attraction to climb mountains! but the perseverance and discipline involved impresses me.

  16. May 18, 2016 9:19 am

    You and me both with being on a Krakauer kick this year! I just finished Missoula yesterday and, as you know, I read the Pat Tillman earlier this year. I have this one in print on my TBR, perhaps I’ll read it this year, too!

  17. May 18, 2016 12:07 pm

    I read this a long time ago, and really liked it. It’s one of those books that sends me down a wikipedia rabbit hole when I’m done!

  18. May 18, 2016 2:11 pm

    These kinds of people amaze me, but I don’t think I could ever do that.

  19. May 18, 2016 4:41 pm

    I do understand the allure of climbing mountains. It’s been a couple of decades since I hiked up high – never even close to what the Everest climbers aim for. But I do understand the buzz one gets when you are up at high altitudes. Sounds like some good reading.

  20. Ryan permalink
    May 18, 2016 10:41 pm

    I’m always fascjnated by stories like this, so I’m going to have to read this one. I know I’ve read another review of this, maybe Sheila’s, and I wanted it then. Now I need to actually get it.

  21. The Cue Card permalink
    May 19, 2016 4:03 pm

    Oh yes, this book is riveting! I basically suffered that snowstorm with them — such was vividness of the book!

  22. May 22, 2016 11:22 am

    This was my favorite Jon Krakauer book. Loved it and I was at the edge of my seat the entire time! Have you read his Into the Wild?

  23. May 23, 2016 12:16 am

    Jason and I listened to this on a road trip when it first came out and we both loved it. Like you, I still have no idea what compels someone to do it, but I respect the sacrifice and dedication it takes. Sherpa became a favorite word because of this book 🙂

  24. bookingmama permalink
    May 23, 2016 8:21 am

    So good, right? This book was fascinating! Matt and I were just discussing it yesterday!

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