Laura Hancock'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
May 19, 2012

really liked it
Read in January, 2012

In his usual style, Jon Krakauer investigates and documents in overly thorough footnotes the lies invented by Greg Mortensen, author of "Three Cups of Tea," and the Central Asian Institute, which builds schools in Central Asia.
This time, it's personal. Krakauer lost at least $50,000 to Mortensen, and lended his name to the charity. When the inconsistencies in Mortensen's books, speeches and interviews became apparent, Krakauer wrote a short ebook, which is on Kindle for maybe $1.99. It's listed as a Kindle Short.
It'incredibly sad how Mortensen fooled people, sometimes using overt racism and stereotypes of the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, into thinking he was some sort of hero, providing children schools that will change their lives. The truth is he didn't build all the schools he claimed. He didn't travel to half the places or meet half the people that he claims. Millions of dollars are missing, and no one is quite sure what Mortensen did with the money.
It has made me, as a journalist, question my coverage of overseas events that I didn't actually attend. I've written a handful of stories about people who said they were refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, veterans of World War II or social workers running an orphanage in India. I took them for their word. Krakauer blasts the journalism establishment for not double checking these types of stories, especially since he himself was able to.
What I found fascinating is the investigative journalism Krakauer did, which is why I rated it four stars. I also liked hearing the anecdotes -- the truthful ones -- about life in the Asian countries.
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