Review: Into Thin Air

Anyone who thinks that discussions of "lifeboat ethics" have no place in real life needs to read this one.

"Into Thin Air" ISBN: 0553478672 is Jon Krakauer's account of the ill-fated Everest expeditions of May 10, 1996, and if there were ever a reduction of humanity to triage and bare survival situations, this is it.

As an adventure story it's a gripping read, but it's also an examination of ethics and motivations, of the responsibilities of guides paid to take their clients into circumstances beyond the clients abilities, of climbers dying because of their own mistakes, and of climbers who might have been able to rescue those dying deciding to fulfill their once in a lifetime opportunity instead. And, of course, the highly skilled ones who died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And Krakauer, as one who survived, is going to be haunted by this one for quite a while. But then, given the quality of his writing I'm going to be haunted by this one too.

Strongly recommended, $24.95 in hardcover. As a little light relief afterwards you might wanna have Kim Stanley Robinson's "Escape From Kathmandu" lying around.

Saturday, February 28th, 1998