I think Krakauer is a great author and his success is well earned. However, I believe that some of his criticism of Boukreev is unwarranted.
Obviously there were many mistakes made on Everest in '96. Regardless, climbing Everest is inherently dangerous and the judgment of intelligent people is often clouded by the drive for the summit and thin air.
I think most people agree that the main error of the '96 Everest disaster was pushing too late in the day. It was predictably pushing the safety envelope.
I have to say that the way Krakauer has criticized Boukreev makes me angry. He said: "[Boukreev]cut and ran ... when it mattered most"
Krakauer has also said:
Anatoli performed heroically in the pre-dawn hours of May 11, and helped save the lives of Sandy Pittman and Charlotte Fox; I admire him immensely for going out alone in the storm, when the rest of us were lying helpless in our tents Note that he doesn't even credit Boukreev for saving Madsen, too.
The American Alpine Club awarded him [Boukreev] the David Sowles Award, its highest award for courage, for his efforts in bringing Sandy Hill Pittman, Charlotte Fox and Tim Madsen back from a stormy South Col to Camp IV alive.
Suddenly, out the of the darkness appeared the tall, gaunt form of Boukreev. He gave an oxygen canister to Pittman and then took hold of Fox. Arm in arm, they stumbled through the biting wind as the Russian led her to the tents of Camp IV. He then returned to lead Pittman and Madsen back. It was a magnificent show of courage and strength on the Russians part. He had insured that all his charges reached safety. Everest: the Mountaineering History, Walt Unsworth
He "cut and ran?" Mr. Krakauer?
Did Boukreev make mistakes? He probably did, as did Krakauer, Hall, Fischer and many others. But for Krakauer to essentially call Boukreev a coward is profoundly unfair in my opinion.