Scott wrote:... it would be impossible to gather all of the facts with 100% certainty.
That's about the only truly verifiable statement in this thread and the core of the issue - now, then, for everybody.
Krakauer wrote his book too soon, made mistakes, left things out, hurt many feelings. I like and respect his work and think it's a good book.
Boukreev was from a generation of Soviet alpinists who had a massive chip on their shoulder about any inferiority to Western climbers and often displayed an almost adolescent urge to prove themselves superior. They felt, justifiably, that they were more experienced, better and stronger than Western climbers, particularly Americans (which they probably were) and had not been given their due in world mountaineering at that point - which is true. This is the cultural and psychological background feeding into the '96 events. Boukreev was a much stronger and more experienced high-altitude mountaineer than Krakauer and would not have felt the latter was qualified or able to judge him - it was an insult. Eventually, Boukreev's story was written by others and promoted by fans and those emotionally involved. Hardly objective.
Boukreev's incredible strength at altitude and his rescue heroics are not to be denied, but he should not have had to do them in the first place. He should not have been 'guiding' Everest without O2, as no one would do now (hindsight) and Fischer should not have let him. They made mistakes, again, obvious in hindsight but mistakes nonetheless.
So many of the other involved people who have written of the incident afterwards were dealing with the undeniable fact they were part of a much-maligned group of people, all willing participants in a highly criticised mess - insufficiently controlled commercial guiding of inappropriate clients on Mt Everest. Anyone in such a position feels the need to justify their actions - or inaction - and put their side of the story across, to defend themselves under the scrutiny of others, and themselves. Some also just need to make money.
I read parts of Ratcliffe's book, found his argument thin, unverified and unconvincing. I just think he needed to write a book.
Writing a book nearly 20 years after the incident can offer good perspective, balance and time to get facts straight, but it can also be too long. You and others have forgotten things, re-shaped things, and you're dealing now with changed standards and the set perspectives of others who have already published, regardless of the 'truth'. There is also a tendency for people as they age to not want to be forgotten, or left out, and so they put their thoughts into words mostly for personal reasons, and this does not guarantee a good book.
Often the most important thing is not how
you write a book, but why
you write it.