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Ventures Among Men and Mountains
||Reprint edition (June 1997)
|| (4.50 of 5)
|I read this right after "Into Thin Air," which was a good introduction to how Krakauer writes and perceives events. His verse is sprinkled with a bit of casual slang, which makes reading it punchy and interesting. This short book is a collection of stories, not all of which are about mountaineering.
"The Flyboys of Talkeetna" is about glacier pilots in Alaska, for instance. A good bit of the seat of the pants history of these pilots is described, as well as an account of taking the trip oneself. "The Burgess Boys" is a hilarious tale of two brothers - vulgar Brit alpinists whose bouts of drinking and scamming could only be described as infamous. But the best story of all is Krakauer's narrative of his solo ice climb, the Devil's Thumb. It's a very personal work, full of bittersweet emotions, lonely introspective realizations and stark fear on the wall.
Krakauer is possibly my favorite author of alpine adventure stories, although I must admit that I have read only Simpson, Roth, and Twight as of this review. I'm not sure how he compares to say Herzog, Bonnington, Haston, Bonatti, or Harrar. He is however quite brilliant in capturing the flavor of each subject he writes about, using quotes from historical works and mixtures of personal observations in the mountains.
It's been some time since his last book, which is a shame. Hopefully something is in the works, as I could do with a new read. Another good work from Krakauer is "Into the Wild," a somber tale of an idealistic youth who mysteriously perished in the Alaskan wilderness trying to live off of the land.
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