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Book Review: Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air: The story of the disaster of 1996


Jon Krakauer is a mountaineer and writer of more than 5 books and a lot many magazine articles. While on an assignment for the Outside magazine in 1996, he wrote ‘Into Thin Air’ which went on to become one of his most famous books.

The blurb goes like this:

In May 1996, Jon Krakauer was on one of the three expeditions near the summit of Mount Everest. Then a storm hit, and by the end of the day eight people were dead. Into Thin Air tells the story of that ill-fated adventure. In it Krakauer brilliantly evokes the majestic Everest landscape and places his own experiences within the history of man’s attempt to conquer the world’s highest mountain. Into Thin Air is a landmark of mountaineering literature, and a harrowing tale of human tragedy and endurance. 

This is the story of human endurance and spirit in the most extreme of circumstances where more often than not, it’s easy to throw in the towel. It’s the story of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, two individuals who loved mountaineering to bits and took hundreds of people to the top of Everest every year. It’s the story of ordinary people trying to achieve extraordinary things by exposing themselves to arduous terrain and extreme environments.

From the money involved to climb Everest to the rivalry among different expedition companies; from the process of climbing the mountain to the different medical conditions which are induced at higher altitudes, Jon goes into each and every detail on what went on in the minds of the individuals during the April – May climbing season in 1996.

The book also delves into the fact of how important Sherpas are to the entire mountaineering industry. Without them, the thousands of dollars spent by the climbers would be pointless.

Jon’s narrative is paced quite well and builds nicely throughout as the climbers move from Base Camp to Camp 1, 2, 3, 4 and then finally to the summit. He also ensures that he captures the emotions and the thought processes going on in the minds of the other climbing expeditions quite effectively which brings the disaster to life.

While this is a personal account, there maybe many who don’t agree with it and that’s perfectly fine. This does nothing to take away the credit from Jon’s excellent writing.

And honestly, I couldn’t think of a negative moment throughout the book.

If you are one who loves stories of adventure and human endurance, this is the one for you.

Rating – 4.5/5 

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  1. I might have to check that out! I found out last year that my husband’s aunt climbed part of Everest and ended up needing to be rescued with a broken leg. It was a crazy experience! It seems like every Everest story is very worth telling.

    • aseemrastogi2

      Oh! Hope your aunt is fine now. Yeah, I guess every story on Everest is a tale of grit and survival on it’s own. If this is your thing, go for this one :).

  2. Thanks for your review. It’s on my to read list.

    • aseemrastogi2

      It’s an awesome book! If stories of human survival are your thing, you will surely love it :).

  3. Was browsing through your blog, my first visit and didn’t know where to start. You have so much variety of content here, plus the accolades, so Congratulations!
    Interesting review this. Will mark this one on my to-read lists.

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