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Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way Paperback – July 1, 2011
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Greg Mortenson is the bestselling author of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, a tireless advocate for improved education in impoverished areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and the founder of the Central Asia Institute (CAI), a non-profit that builds schools in these areas. He's also, according to Jon Krakauer, not all that he appears to be. Krakauer is himself a bestselling author (Into the Wild, Into Thin Air), with a well-deserved reputation for penetrating nonfiction. Motivated by his own humanitarian concerns, and having donated considerable sums to CAI, Krakauer now applies his investigative skills to the unmasking of what he calls the "image of Mortenson that has been created for public consumption… an artifact born of fantasy, audacity, and an apparently insatiable hunger for esteem." Did Mortenson discover the village that inspired his crusade while wandering lost down K2? Was he abducted and held for eight days by the Taliban? Has he built all the schools that he has claimed? Tempered by Krakauer's fairly giving CAI credit where it's due, Three Cups of Deceit mounts an extensive, passionate exploration into these questions. --Jason Kirk
"Packed with interviews and anecdotes that undercut Mortenson's image as a cheerful do-gooder, Krakauer's account of good intentions gone horribly wrong is a stunning example of investigative journalism." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Krakauer forcefully claims that Mortenson improperly used his charity’s funds and failed to build all the schools he says he did.” –Chicago Tribune
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I've always been a fan of Jon Krakauer's writing. I've read Into the Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven in addition to Three Cups of Deceit, a Kindle Single. My biggest concern is the alleged mismanagement of funds and the seemingly qualified people at CAI who quit one by one because they couldn't do their jobs properly due to no feedback from Mortenson and if accurate, no receipts for foreign expenses or for anything. Mortenson provided no leadership or management skills, and was gung-ho one minute and couldn't care less the next. Somewhere I read that he suffers from depression and anxiety and I wonder if there is an element of mild bipolar disorder in there somewhere. He also made some impulsive decisions.
Some of the other things that Jon Krakauer says are cause for concern, too. Why would Mortenson say that he paid his respects to Mother Teresa well after the year she died when she died in 1997? She died less than a month after Princess Diana so the date sticks in the mind with that association.
I tend to believe that Krakauer's book is more fact than fiction. He certainly didn't write it for profit, because 100% of the author's proceeds go to "Stop Girl Trafficking" at the American Himalayan Foundation. Krakauer is receiving nothing from the book.
To build so many schools and not follow up with plans for teachers' salaries, school supplies and whatever else was needed seemed foolish because the people in these areas cannot afford to provide these things on their own. Perhaps the trip or trips to Telluride that Mortenson, his family and friends took could have funded some of those things.
In summary, I think that there is more truth in Jon Krakauer's book, Three Cups of Deceit, than anything else. He didn't write it for the money, he already is a well-known writer for his other books which have been made into movies, and he donated a lot of money to CAI himself. And I do know that Krakauer is a mountain climber, but Mortenson's climbing is questionable.
I liked the book, I read the article in Outside magazine and also the [...] site. I think it was in the Outside article that it said that some of the schools are being used for grain storage now, and if that's the truth, that's a real shame.
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Moral of story for scam artists: what idiot scams an investigative reporter???