Friday, 13 January 2012

Jon Krakauer - Three Cups of Deceit

In his bestselling book “Three Cups of Tea,” author Greg Mortenson described how he was rescued by the Pakistani villagers of Korphe when he wandered lost and exhausted while trying to climb a Himalayan peak.
But CBS’ 60 Minutes and Journalist Jon Krakauer allege that the story is made up. And Krakauer alleges the book is “Three Cups Of Deceit.”
60 Minutes and Krakauer also argue that Mortenson mismanaged his multi-million dollar charity, CAI, which Mortenson formed to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We speak with Alex Heard, editor at Outside magazine who spoke with Mortenson about the charges

Product Description: 
Greg Mortenson, the bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea, is a man who has built a global reputation as a selfless humanitarian and children’s crusader, and he’s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. But, as Jon Krakauer demonstrates in this extensively researched and penetrating book, he is not all that he appears to be.

Based on wide-ranging interviews with former employees, board members, and others who have intimate knowledge of Mortenson and his charity, the Central Asia Institute, Three Cups of Deceit uncovers multiple layers of deception behind Mortenson’s public image. Was his crusade really inspired by a desire to repay the kindness of villagers who nursed him back to health when he became lost on his descent down K2? Was he abducted and held for eight days by the Taliban? Has his charity built all of the schools that he has claimed? This book is a passionately argued plea for the truth, and a tragic tale of good intentions gone very wrong.
Read more  here

In February, I embedded with the 101st Airborne division in Kandahar province to research a novel. I wound up writing my own Kindle Single, "Lost in Kandahar," about the obstacles our soldiers faced in fighting the Taliban. One reviewer wrote that that the piece offered a very different perspective on Afghanistan than "Three Cups of Tea." Now, unfortunately, I understand why. In this thoroughly researched piece, Jon Krakauer exposes Greg Mortenson as a terrible charlatan.

According to dozens of people who spoke to Krakauer, most of whom are quoted by name, Mortenson lied about the origins of his school-building project, lied about the number of schools he's built, lied about how much time he spends in Afghanistan, lied about his financial relationship with his charity, lied about how much he pays himself, lied about his "kidnapping" in 1996, and even lied about the fact that schools are mainly in relatively peaceful parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. There are probably a few other lies I've forgotten. For his own ego and financial gain, Mortenson took advantage of the goodwill of donors in America and all over the world.

As Krakauer points out, we are so desperate for good news out of Afghanistan that we latched onto Mortenson's story despite some of its obvious flaws (the Taliban didn't really exist in Pakistan in 1996, for example). Mortenson's efforts to defend himself at this point are pathetic, and if he is smart - and wants to avoid a criminal indictment - he will come clean and then slink away, never to be seen or heard again. And hopefully, the rest of us will be a little wiser the next time a Pied Piper comes along promising to solve the world's ills -- for just a few bucks down!
Alex Berenson Amazon

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