Jon Krakauer landed arguably the greatest one-two punch in outdoor literature when he published 1996’s Into the Wild, about the wanderer Chris McCandless, followed a year later by Into Thin Air, about a deadly summit of Mount Everest. Both books cemented Krakauer’s reputation as one of the greatest living nonfiction writers, and both have since been adapted into feature films. Krakauer’s latest book, Classic Krakauer, collects 10 of his essays and magazine stories, many from the 1990s, that his books later eclipsed but which are equally stunning.
In “Mark Foo’s Last Ride,” a diehard surfer meets a tragic end, whereas “After the Fall” details a curious climbing accident. Classic Krakauer contains tales of teen wilderness escapes and intrepid cave exploration, of active volcanoes and remote Alaskan mountain ranges. Krakauer heavily researched each piece, and his writing is not only accessible but vivid and engrossing. He lets you venture to New Mexico, Alaska, Washington—all without leaving your house. These early stories affirm that Krakauer’s best-sellers were no fluke and, above all, that he approaches his craft with the same obsessiveness that many of his subjects approach the outdoors.