Skip to main content

Jon Krakauer


Jon Krakauer

Born in 1954, Jon Krakauer grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, where his father introduced him to mountaineering as an eight-year-old. After graduating from Hampshire College in 1976, Krakauer divided his time between Colorado, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest, supporting himself primarily as a carpenter and commercial salmon fisherman. For the next two decades, however, his life revolved around climbing mountains.

In 1996 Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest, but a storm took the lives of four of the five teammates who reached the summit with him. An analysis of the calamity he wrote for Outside magazine received a National Magazine Award. The unsparingly forthright book he subsequently wrote about Everest, INTO THIN AIR, became a #1 New York Times bestseller and was translated into more than 25 languages. It was also Time magazine’s Book of the Year, and was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize.

In 1998, as a tribute to his companions lost on Everest, Krakauer established the Everest ’96 Memorial Fund at the Boulder Community Foundation with earnings from INTO THIN AIR. As of 2012, the fund had donated more than $1.7 million to such charities as the American Himalayan Foundation, Educate the Children, Veterans Helping Veterans Now, the Access Fund, and the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center.

Krakauer’s writing has been published by OutsideGQNational GeographicRolling StoneArchitectural DigestPlayboyThe New YorkerThe New York Times and An article he wrote for Smithsonian about volcanology received the 1997 Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism. His 1996 book, INTO THE WILD, remained on the New York Times bestseller list for more than two years.

In 1999 Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, intended “to honor writers of exceptional accomplishment.” According to the Academy’s citation, “Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer. His account of an ascent of Mount Everest has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind.”

In 2003, Krakauer published UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN: A Story of Violent Faith, about religious fundamentalism in the American West. While researching WHERE MEN WIN GLORY: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, published in 2009, Krakauer spent five months embedded with combat forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In 2011, he published THREE CUPS OF DECEIT: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way. All of his proceeds from this latter work have been donated to the Stop Girl Trafficking program at the American Himalayan Foundation.

Jon Krakauer

Books by Jon Krakauer

by Jon Krakauer - Nonfiction, True Crime

Jon Krakauer chronicles the searing experiences of several women in Missoula --- the nights when they were raped; their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. Krakauer’s dispassionate, carefully documented account of what these ladies endured cuts through the abstract ideological debate about campus rape.

written and read by Jon Krakauer - Adventure, Memoir, Nonfiction

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more --- including Krakauer's --- in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for INTO THIN AIR, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

by Jon Krakauer - Adventure, Biography

In April 1992, a young man named Christopher Johnson McCandless hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness. He had given away his savings, abandoned most of his possessions, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, a moose hunter found McCandless's body. This is the story of how he came to die.