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Audiobook Review: Into Thin Air

by Kim on December 3, 2009 · 21 comments

into thin airTitle: Into Thin Air
Author: Jon Krakauer
Genre/Format: Literary Journalism/Audiobook
Year: 1999
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★★½

Summary: On May 10, 1996, eight climbers were killed and several others were injured when a storm hit the peak of Mount Everest while multiple groups of climbers were on the mountain. Journalist Jon Krakauer was along on the trip, writing about a new trend of commercial trips up Mount Everest which allowed inexperienced climbers to get up the mountain with the help of more experienced guides.

But when the storm hit, Krakauer went from observing journalist to endangered participant, and the aftermath of the storm resulted in a story almost too tragic to believe. Krakauer’s piece created a lot of controversy when it was published in Outside magazine, but he was still persuaded to turn it into a book. Hence, Into Thin Air.

Book Review: I’ve always been a Jon Krakauer fangirl, so I went in expecting to love this book. And of course, I did. It might actually be my favorite Jon Krakauer book because it does such a good job of creating narrative tension and trying to answer questions in a tragedy that’s nearly inexplicable and was probably entirely preventable.

Throughout the book, I couldn’t help but ask myself over and over why anyone would put themselves through this. Even without the storm, climbing Everest isn’t something to take lightly — it takes years of training, months of preparation, and even then can take out the best of climbers. As the book moves towards the inevitable conclusion, I couldn’t help think about the futility of the whole endeavor.

Audio Review: This books lends itself almost too well to audiobook. By the time the final ascent to Everest began, I didn’t want to stop listening. And as the aftermath of the storm comes to light, the narrative just spirals out of control in a way that you can’t ignore. I was alone in my car and kept exclaiming, “No! He didn’t! Are you kidding me!?” I probably looked crazy. Anyway,  it’s really, really good and highly recommended.

Other Reviews: Lost in a Good Story;

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Becker December 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I have a friend who ran out of gas while listening to this audio, he was so into it!

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Kim December 5, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Becker: That is so funny! I can totally imagine that happening. I’m glad it didn’t happen to me though.

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Kathy December 3, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing. I have to remember to look for this one in audio.

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Jess - A Book Hoarder December 3, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I really enjoy Krakauer but haven’t read this yet AND I have been looking for a good audiobook. I am so excited. Thanks for the review, it came at the perfect time.

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Kim December 5, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Jess: That’s great, I hope you can find it. I loved this book, and thought it worked really well on audio.

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Lisa December 3, 2009 at 8:34 pm

My husband read this but I hadn’t really considered it, I’m not sure why. Looks like I should go find it!

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Nicole December 3, 2009 at 9:40 pm

This sounds so good. I enjoy Krakauer too. I have this one and his latest. Just need the time.

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Jodie December 4, 2009 at 3:18 am

I want to find out what he did now. Mountain climbing narratives are so interesting, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that starts off about commercial mountain climbing trips.

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Kim December 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Jodie: I didn’t know about commercial mountain climbing either, so that part was fascinating. He does a good job of pointing out some of the problems with the system, including bringing inexperienced climbers on the mountain and the sense of competition from the different commercial companies.

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Jeane December 4, 2009 at 10:20 am

I think I’ve actually read this but it’s been so long I don’t remember much. You’ve really got me curious now to re-discover what happened at the end!

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Kim December 5, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Jeane: The whole ending is unbelievable. From the moment they started the final ascent to the top to the point when Krakauer finally gets home, I didn’t want to stop listening. It’s so scary, but also foolish and sad and horrifying.

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Melissa- Shhh I'm Reading December 7, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I read this one a few years ago and really enjoyed it. I could imagine it would translate well to audio.

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SuziQoregon December 9, 2009 at 1:53 pm

This was the first book I ever read by Krakauer and still my favorite of his. One of these days I’d like to read it again because it’s been several years. Maybe I’ll get the audio version for that.

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Kim December 13, 2009 at 11:52 am

SuziQOregon: This one might be my favorite too. I’ve read Under the Banner of Heaven and Into the Wild, and loved them, but this one really blew me away.

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Hideki September 12, 2011 at 1:20 pm

If you like books on mountaineering, I vote for ANNAPURNA by Maurice Herzog about the first ever climb of an 8,000m-class mountain. Not in the same vivid writing style of Jon Kraukauer by any means, ANNAPURNA is still considered one of the all-time classics of mountaineering literature.

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Kim September 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have to see if my library has a copy.

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