Into Thin Air
I listened to Into Thin Air on audiobook with my partner. We took to asking each other, "hey, you want to listen to people dying on Everest?" Which is to say, this book is grim from beginning to end. People sicken, they are dreadfully injured, they die--all for no firm reason. The interest is in discerning the meaning of it all, something Krakauer himself struggles to do. Which is admirable, in my view: sometimes there is no way to easily explain the significance of a disaster.
Krakauer retells the story of the events he witnessed with a journalist's clarity, focusing on times, locations, lists of equipment, quotes recorded on radios and later interviews. As an eyewitness, his own recollection was impaired by the low oxygen on the heights of the mountain, and he explores several different interpretations of specific events based on differing reports from different people. And he matter-of-factly blames himself, and his own lack of coherence, for directly failing to prevent the death of a man he respected.
It's a heavy weight to carry, and Krakauer admits feeling like a different person after what happened on the mountain. I respect that about this book. The stark honesty matches the stark, cold subject matter.