Mountain guide Boukreev tells his version of the events of the May 1996 Mt. Everest disaster, in which five climbers died, in an effort to clear his name of damning allegations made in Jon Krakauer's bestselling Into Thin Air. Boukreev is well known in climbing circles as a good, tough, experienced guide, not especially personable or given to pampering the clients, but utterly reliable, especially in tight situations. So it came as a shock when Krakauer called into question Boukreev's behavior on that fateful day: Why had the guide raced down the mountain before his clients? Was it because he was improperly dressed and climbing without supplemental oxygen? Was it true he ``cut and ran'' when needed most, as charged by a Boukreev client whom Krakauer quotes? Boukreev provides a detailed history of his team's expedition (the book is told as an alternating duet, with Boukreev doing the play-by-play and investigative filmmaker DeWalt handling long swaths of color commentary), of the things that went right on the climb and the many that went wrong, as well as a minute examination of his climbing philosophy. And he successfully parries Krakauer's accusations: He was appropriately dressed and has photos to prove it; he climbs without supplemental oxygen because he feels it makes him stronger, not weaker, especially in situations where oxygen runs out; and, indeed, oxygen was fast running out for his clients, which is why he hurried down, with the consent of his team's leader, to be prepared to ferry tanks back up if needed. Not that the book is without its own glitches, such as inconsistency (``You can receive a lot more information observing the clients' external appearance'' and ``Appearances meant nothing''). Such a pall of anger and defensiveness hangs over Boukreev's account that only those with a personal interest in his reputation will find much solace in his story.
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