Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the
Disaster Mt. Everest
Though the 1996 Everest disaster is over a decade in the past, Jon Krakauer's memoir about his experiences on the mountain that spring should continue to fascinate modern audiences. There is, after all, something inherently timeless about the world's tallest mountain, and Krakauer's observations about the nature and effects of Everest's increasing commercialization seem ever more poignant now that the mountain's popularity among amateurs is at an all-time high (and growing). His account is accessible to the average reader with no climbing experience, and he does an exceptionally good job setting the scene, describing the mountain and providing crucial context for the ways in which the events of May 1996 led to eight deaths in a mere two days. Ever the journalist, Krakauer admits the biases inherent in his own account (he was, after all, suffering from the affects of altitude sickness), and accepts responsibility for earlier inaccuracies in his story regarding the death of Andy Hall. Though Krakauer is critical of particular individuals, he is careful to hedge his bets in what appears to be a genuine attempt to be fair while relaying his own opinion. The story itself is gripping from start to finish and Krakauer's skill in describing high-altitude climbing to the uninitiated might have (ironically) contributed to the romanticization of Everest, despite the fact that his account is largely centered on the inherit perils of attempting the mountain.. This accessibility, combined with compelling (if occasionally overly reverent) portraits of the primary and secondary players, make the book come alive; it is anything but dry and retains an air of suspense despite describing events that are now fairly well documented. The well-written Into Thin Air offers captivating insights into the world of high-altitude climbing and presents a valuable first-person insight into the nature of life and disaster on the world's tallest mountain.