I had nearly finished reading Jon Krakauer’s INTO THIN AIR on the way to work this morning and I had to resist walking down the street with my nose in the book. This proved to be a wise choice when I was nearly plowed over in a crosswalk by an SUV inattentively making a right hand turn, and was saved by a quick leap backwards and a loud shout. Drivers of San Francisco — please be careful when there are literary agents in the crosswalk! California’s car cell phone ban cannot come soon enough.
But in any event, INTO THIN AIR is an amazing book!! I’m sure many of you have read it, but Krakauer’s step by step chronicle of his team’s ill-fated 1996 Everest expedition is one of the most perfect combinations of subject matter and incredible writing I have ever come across. Not only that, I have it on good authority that Krakauer is an extremely nice person and a pleasure to work with.
Krakauer really proves that it is not enough to have witnessed incredible events, you have to be a tremendous writer. Check and check.
So now I’m wondering: what is your favorite work of nonfiction based on actual events? This rules out general nonfiction, so I guess we’re looking at history, memoir, biography, journalism…. you get the idea.