The New New Journalism
Robert S. Boynton
Ted Conover
Richard Ben Cramer
Leon Dash
William Finnegan
Jonathan Harr
Alex Kotlowitz
Jon Krakauer
Jane Kramer
William Langewiesche
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Michael Lewis
Susan Orlean
Richard Preston
Ron Rosenbaum
Eric Schlosser
Gay Talese
Calvin Trillin
Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Wright
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by Robert S. Boynton


           Jon Krakauer's pride was wounded by his editor's lukewarm reaction to an early draft of, Under the Banner of Heaven (2003). After having published Into the Wild (1996) and Into Thin Air (1997), Krakauer's two bestselling works of adventure writing, the editor was puzzled by this grisly tale of a 1984 ritual murder, punctuated with long chapters on the history of Mormonism. "Where are the mountains?" she asked.
           What she didn't appreciate was that Under the Banner of Heaven was a continuation, not a departure, from Krakauer's central themes: the delicate balance between faith and reason as seen through individuals who are drawn to extremes. Rather than rework the book, Krakauer switched publishers and Under the Banner of Heaven became his third bestseller.
           Jon Krakauer was born in Brookline, Massachusetts, in 1954. His family moved to Corvallis, Oregon, when he was two. When he was eight years old, his father took him to (unsuccessfully)climb Oregon's ten-thousand-foot South Sister, sparking Krakauer's lifelong obsession with mountaineering.
           Krakauer received a degree in environmental studies from Hampshire College and worked as a carpenter and a commercial fishermanto support his climbing. In 1983 Krakauer quit his job as foreman of a house-building crew to concentrate on writing.
           In 1992, a party of moose hunters found the decomposing bodyof a young man in the Alaskan wilderness. Outside magazine asked Krakauer to write about this young man, Chris McCandless, a bright idealist from Washington, D.C. Many readers thought McCandless was a reckless fool; others sympathized with his spiritual quest. Krakauer saw a lot of himself in McCandless.
           A year after the article was published, Krakauer couldn't get McCandless out of his mind and decided to write Into the Wild, Krakauer's first bestseller.
           On May 10, 1996, Krakauer climbed Mount Everest with an expedition of twenty-three people. An afternoon blizzard hit the peak, and eight people lost their lives.
           Krakauer's Outside article on the climb won the 1996 National Magazine Award for Reporting. Into Thin Air, his book on the experience, was on the bestseller list for two years and in 1998 Krakauer used some of the royalties to establish the Everest '96 Memorial Fund. The book was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
           For his next book, he wanted to write about the extremes of faith. When Krakauer was granted an interview with Dan Lafferty--a fundamentalist Mormon who had slain his sister-in-law and niece in a ritual murder--he knew he had found the narrative through which to tell his story. The book received mixed reviews, with a number of critics faulting him for ignoring Mormonism's positive characteristics. The Mormon Church issued a five-page, single-spaced rebuttal of the book two weeks before publication. Krakauer defended his reporting and accused the church of whitewashing its history. "I wanted to write about how they dealt with their history. I didn't realize how rankled they would become about it."
           In 2007, Sean Penn directed the movie version of "Into the Wild."



BOOKS

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, Doubleday, 2015
buy
buy
Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way, Anchor Books, 2011
buy
buy
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, Doubleday, 2009
buy
buy
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, Doubleday, 2003
buy
buy
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster, Villard, 1997
buy
buy
Into the Wild, Villard, 1996
buy
buy
Eiger Dreams: Ventures Among Men and Mountains, Lyons & Burford, 1990
buy
buy

ARTICLES

"Death and Anger on Everest", The New Yorker, April 21, 2014

"How Chris McCandless Died", The New Yorker, September 12, 2013

"Why Is Nepal Cracking Down on Tibetan Refugees?", The New Yorker, December 28, 2011

"Report from the Field: Stop Girl Trafficking", American Himalayan Foundation, November 28, 2011

"Gen. McChrystal's Credibility Problem", The Daily Beast, October 14, 2009

"It Is My Will Ye Remove the Following Individuals", The Observer Magazine, August 31, 2003

"Sheer and Exhilarating", The New York Times, July 16, 2002

"Will There Be Any Wilderness Left?", Time, November 8, 1999

"On the edge of Antarctica: Queen Maud Land", National Geographic, February 1998

"Straight Up Ice", National Geographic, December 1996

"Into Thin Air", Outside, September 1996

"Geologists Worry About Dangers of Living Under the Volcano", Smithsonian, July 1996

"A New Vision for a Museum on the Mall", Smithsonian, May 1996

"Loving Them to Death", Outside, October 1995

"Nagasaki: The Other Ground Zero", The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 6, 1995

"Rocky Times for Banff", National Geographic, July 1995

"Mark Foo’s Last Ride", Outside, May 1995

"All they really wanted was to travel a little", Smithsonian, October 1994

"A Hog is still a hog, but the 'wild ones' are tamer", Smithsonian, November 1993

"Denver: The cow town with culture, and proud of it", Smithsonian, September 1993

"What's a nice southern girl doing in a place like this?", Outside, June 1993

"Lions in Winter: Tracking Idaho’s Big Cats", The Chicago Tribune, May 2, 1993

"Death of an Innocent", Outside, January 1993

"Ice, Mosquitoes and Muskeg--Building the Road to Alaska", Smithsonian, July 1992

"Dale Chihuly Has Turned Art Glass into a Red-Hot Item", Smithsonian, February 1992

"Brown Fellas", Outside, December 1991

"Carpeting Your Noggin is Very Much in Vogue", Smithsonian, October 1991

"If You Want to Fight Air Pollution, Go Plant a Tree", Smithsonian, April 1990

"James Olson: Melding Art and Architecture in an Urban Seattle Apartment", Architectural Digest, February 1990

"The Superkids", Washington Post, February 7, 1988

"A Clean, Well Lighted Place", Utne Reader, April/May 1986

"Get It While It’s Hot!", Rolling Stone, August 30, 1984



Interviews and Reviews

Before he was anacclaimed journalist, he was a revered rock climber, having challenged peaks like Mount Everest. Here are the books he revisits most often when he's closer to sea level. A Life in Books, August 13, 2007

Simonds, Talbott, “Under the Banner of Heaven,” The Harbus Online, Online (Harvard University), October 14, 2003

Donahue, Dierdre, “Murder by Zealot Mormon Sect Sparks Deeper Look,” USA Today, July 13, 2003

“Writer Jon Krakauer,” Fresh Air, NPR, July 30, 2003

“Mormon Book,” Morning Edition, NPR, July 24, 2003

Potter, Kirsti, “In God’s Name: Jon Krakauer Investigates Radical Mormonism,” Yale Review of Books, Summer 2003

Review, Under the Banner of Heaven, Steck, Jim Missouri Review, Volume XXVI, Number 2, 2003

“Krakauer in Antarctica,” Nova, January 2003

Krakauer reads from Into Thin Air, Salon, October 5, 2000

Interview, Boldtype, , June 1997

Review of Into Thin Air, Salon, May 24, 1997

“Taming Everest,” All Things Considered, NPR, May 13, 1997

“We Put in a Call to Jon Krakauer,” Fresh Air, NPR, May 13, 1997

“Mountain Climber and writer Jon Krakauer,” Fresh Air, NPR, May 9, 1997



© Robert S. Boynton