Isis's Reviews > Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way

Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer
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's review
Apr 23, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: ebook
Read from April 21 to 22, 2011

If this were a novel, it would be a classic tragedy. It's the story of hubris, of power corrupting: the ordinary man with good intentions who finds the clothing of a hero too large. Unable to fill it himself, he pads himself about with myth, but when he falls into the trap of believing those myths, he precipitates his own downfall.

But it's not a novel. This "book" (it feels more like an overgrown magazine article) is an investigation into the real story behind Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time and Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, both of which I have read; I hated the former for its clunky writing, but loved the latter, and I totally bought into the vision that author Mortenson presented of his calling, his passion to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I attended Mortenson's talk that he describes at the very beginning of Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I have donated money to CAI.

Which is why Krakauer's book is so depressing and angering. Like Krakauer, who donated a heck of a lot more money than I did, I feel betrayed by an idealist who did not have the strength to live up to his ideals. Krakauer meticulously documents his findings: the invented experiences which made a better story than the truth, the misuse of funds and deceptive accounting practices, the schools that were constructed but not funded and that now stand empty and abandoned. It's a sad story. And the saddest part is that I believe, and I think Krakauer believes, that Mortenson honestly did have noble intentions. He just wasn't big enough to stay true to them.
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30.0% "This makes me sad."
07/06 marked as: read

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