Jon Krakauer spent his childhood in Corvallis, Oregon. After graduating from Hampshire College in 1976, he worked as a carpenter and commercial salmon fisherman in Alaska before eventually embarking on a career as a freelance writer. Into the Wild, his first bestselling book, was published in January 1996. Four months later Krakauer climbed Mt. Everest, but four of the five teammates who reached the summit with him perished in a storm. The book he wrote about the calamity, Into Thin Air, was one of three finalists for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. In 1999 he received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. According to the award citation, “Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.”
Among the six other books Krakauer has written are Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (2003), and Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman (2009). While researching the latter, Krakauer spent five months embedded with combat troops along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In a Los Angeles Times review of Krakauer’s book, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (2015), the literary critic and sexual-assault survivor Lacy M. Johnson observed, “Krakauer is a writer committed above all else to asking difficult questions … Krakauer’s investigation will succeed in altering the conversation around sexual violence in ways women’s experience alone has not. … Missoula will undoubtedly fortify those of us who have already broken our silence and may rally those who have not dared to.”
In addition to his books, Krakauer has written numerous pieces for Smithsonian, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, TIME, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.