Top critical review
From the narrow prism of a hired writer/journalist
9 July 2019
Krakauers' style is eloquent but the problem is he's a hired gun. He gets paid to do this. Even his Everest trip was sponsored by a magazine. There will possibly be conflict of interest. I'm looking forward to read the book by the great Anatoli Boukreev who, despite being snow blind managed to rescue three climbers of another team from certain death while Mr Krakauer was sleeping it off from exhaustion and no other guide, client, or sherpa could master the courage to leave camp. Mr. Boukreev made several solo forays into a blizzard in the dark at 26,000 feet to rescue three climbers near death.
After the first half of the book there are two passages where it is apparent that Mr Krakauer was so focussed on ticking off his bucket list for Everest that, in his self centered, parochial view he actually left behind two of his fellow climbers to their own fate on the mountain when they desperately needed his help. One of them died and the other (who was snowblind) lost half of his face and limbs to frostbite.
As far as Mr Boukreev is concerned, he was a climber par excellence who commanded respect from his peers. Even Mr Krakauer has acknowledged this on page 130 (of the pan macmillan edition I'm reading) ..... " but four luminaries stood out even in this distinguished company-- climbers who demonstrated such astonishing prowess above 26000 feet that they were in a league of their own: Ed Viesturs, the American who was starring in the IMAX film; Anatoli Boukreev, a guide from Kazakhstan working for Fischer; Ang Babu Sherpa, who was employed by the South African expedition ; and Lopsang."
I'd like to point out here that while Mr Krakauer grants Mr. Boukreev certain strength, his characterisation (of Boukreev) is vastly sketchy and criticisms factually unfounded.
Now picture this: imagine a place that tries your endurance like no other place does. A place where you're fragile, vulnerable and weak both physically and mentally. Now imagine a paid gun who, like it or not follows you like a shadow and scribbles away your life for millions to read of HIS version of what HE makes of you when you're at your lowest--this is not only weird but IMHO morally wrong as well. I'd definitely freak out if it happened to me.
It goes without saying that Boukreev was a pure climber with immense strength of character and fortitude who did not have writing assignments, book sales, critical acclaim from peers or a soaring bank balance in mind when he wore his pair of trekking shoes. In fact he died pursuing his passion. God bless his soul.