“Three Cups of Tea” or “Three Cups of Deceit”

Allen Best in High Country News in an article about Greg Mortenson, the embattled former mountain climber who has been accused of “taking giant liberties with the truth in his inspiring, Three Cups of Tea, as well as with using donations intended to build schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan as his ‘own private ATM'”, states:

Following a failed attempt to summit K2, he (Mortenson) said he was kidneapped by the Taliban.  Afterward, he vowed to build schools in Afghanistan, expecially for girls.  His efforts have won almost universal praise; Presidnet Obama even donated $100,000 of his Nobel Prize award to Mortenson’s Montana-based organization, the Central Asia Institute.  Altogether, the organization has raised $60 million in a few short years.

But (a) recent “60 Minutes” segment about Mortenson’s embellishments raises quesions that even his staunchest defenders admit are serious.  Jon Krakauer, author of “Into Thin Air” and more recently “Where Men Win Glory:  The Odyssey of Pat Tillman,” told “60 Minutes” that Mortenson’s story is a “beautiful story, and it’s a lie.”

Titling his just-published 75-page article about Mortenson, “Three Cups of Deceit,” Krakauer said it now appears that Mortenson was never kidnapped by the Taliban.  He also said the Montana nonprofit founded by Mortenson claimed expenses for promoting his books, but never received any of the profits from book sales; Mortenson kept the royalties for himself.  “Three Cups of Tea” has now sold 4 million copies.  Perhaps even more damaging are Krakauer’s allegations that Mortenson used the nonprofit organization to fund a lavish lifestyle that included the use of personal jets. 

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