ABOVE THE CLOUDS: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer
Born in Mayak, Russia, in 1958, Boukreev became one of the world's greatest mountain climbers. But while his accomplishments included 21 ascents of 11 of the world's 14 highest mountains, Boukreev became known to the general public only after his work as a guide on a disastrous Mt. Everest climb was described in less than glowing terms in Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Boukreev's coauthored bestselling account of the tragedy, The Climb, was an attempt to set the record straight. This new posthumous collection is a series of narratives Boukreev wrote between 1987 and his death climbing Annapurna in 1997; it stands as an excellent addition to The Climb and as one of the most revealing and tough-minded descriptions of the life of a mountain climber. Three themes dominate the essays: the spiritual beauty and power of the mountains, the increasing commercialization of mountain climbing and the necessity for rigorous training by people (pros and newcomers alike) who want to climb the big mountains. The accounts—collected and edited by his companion Linda Wylie—capture Boukreev's thoughts during an often troubled period: by 1989, at the height of his powers, Boukreev had received the highest sports honors in Soviet history, but when the Soviet Union collapsed, Boukreev was forced to move to America, where he made his living as a guide for wealthy patrons on private climbing adventures—including the terrible Mt. Everest trip, which haunted him until he died. 32 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Nov. 16)
Forecast:The bestselling status of Boukreev's first book as well as continuing interest in the 1996 attempt to climb Mt. Everest should promise sizable, serious readership.