Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way of Chris Mortenson and his best-selling books “Three Cups of Tea”, and “Stones into Schools”.
Three Cups of Tea tells the supposedly true story of Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute (CAI) building schools in Pakistan while on a rip-roaring adventure of Taliban kidnappings amongst other tales. I received it as a present and enjoyed the moving story.
Except that, as it turns out, much of the story is stretched, elaborated and in parts completely concocted. Jon Krakauer writes, in Three Cups of Deceit, how the seemingly sociopathic Greg Mortenson not only fabricated key parts of the story (and in contradiction of earlier, published articles by his own hand) but also ran the organisation for personal gain.
It’s definitely worth a read, even if it is a little sad to realise that a hero is actually a charlatan.
A point many of Mortenson’s supporters make is that he still did good – he and his CAI did build schools, did educate children and did raise awareness of society building as key methods of improving living standards and understanding in troubled parts of the world.
The problem I have there is that many people who donate money to charities, NGOs and similar programmes will donate the money to a cause anyway. Therefore, a significant portion of funds that went to the CAI would have gone to other causes if it weren’t for Mortenson’s lies. Moreover, that money wouldn’t have been squandered on Mortenson, on promoting his book, or on the now-empty schools built in the wrong places without equipment or teachers.
Mortenson redirected money away from good, solid causes and into his own pocket.