Two recent reads of mine have been Into Thin Air and Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer.  His works are open, insightful, well-researched, humble, and easy to read.

Into Thin Air was his personal account of climbing Mt. Everest in 1996.  His group and many others were caught in a freak storm on the upper slopes of the mountain.  Two well-known and experienced team leaders lost their lives along with many others.

Krakauer recounts the disturbing details that led to this event.  The main reason for being there was to write on the commercialization of climbing Mt. Everest and the daring risks many people are willing to take to make a summit.  Climbers bent their own rules to make this happen and faced severe repercussions as a result.

Krakauer admits to his own initial mistakes on reporting the first time around.  In retrospect, there’s not much one can control at such high altitudes.  Climbers are dealing with lower oxygen levels that cause hypoxia and other ailments.  Mistakes are bound to happen – especially when a large amount of climbers become traffic jammed on a single rope.  This book sets the record straight  while sharing a lot about the culture of mountaineering.

The second book was Where Men Win Glory:  The Odyssey of Pat Tillman.  I only knew fragmented details about this post 9/11 event.  Krakauer’s research was inspiring and top-notch revealing what happened in its entirety.  As one of my co-workers said, “It should be a must-read for all high schoolers [thinking of joining the military].”

Pat Tillman’s story was inspiring.  He left a multi-million dollar contract to pursue a very noble cause in becoming a Ranger.  He held true to his morals and ethics.  He challenged everything and sought nothing but truth.  His death, by result of fratricide (friendly fire) in Afghanistan , was covered up by the U.S.Army.  Before, Tillman was used a high profile commercial product to promote military enlistment.  His patriotism was marketed by the Bush Administration and recruiters everywhere.  What impressed me the most, was how Tillman wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.  He just wanted to do his job and fight for his country.

Upon his death, however, Tillman’s life was not honored by high ranking officials.  Officers were promoted, the people responsible were slapped on the wrist, and the Tillman family was lied to on many levels.  Krakauer bravely takes on these issues with compelling research and reporting.  He exposes how political  agendas by the military and politicians sweep their shit under the rug to keep up appearances and mislead the public with propoganda.  One example was how Jessica Lynch was used as propaganda to hide a battle in Iraq, which U.S. A-10 Warthogs fired upon their own men.

An overall lesson from this research is to always question the institutions and policies that are in place.  Many times, the truth is concealed by political agendas and poor leadership.  This is a fine example of America’s right to accurate information, freedom of speech, and our necessity to fight for the truth.  It is a fine recount of Pat Tillman’s life and real story of what happened in Afghanistan.