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Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way Paperback – 25 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books (25 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307948765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307948762
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 0.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jon Krakauer is the author of Eiger Dreams, Into The Wild, Into Thin Air, and Under the Banner of Heaven and is the editor of the Modern Library Exploration series.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jo on 14 Jun 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though I haven't entirely finished reading this yet, I am incredibly intrigued by the entire story. The author clearly hasn't been tempted to take artistic license (unlike the pieces of Mortenson's writing picked apart in this book) so as the reader you're provided with a straightforward start-to-finish account in clear and clear direct language. Krakauer doesn't drift off into other stories or strange musings, he states and argues his case point by point, leaving nothing to the imagination. Reading this I feel like I am being educated about the goings-on not only in Mortenson's organization, but potentially very many other charitable organizations. The unpretentious narratives makes this a very enjoyable reading experience and the story itself is just immensely interesting.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 10 Aug 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a valuable and interesting book on a self-proclaimed hero, Greg Mortenson, whose story never rang quite true to me. Krakauer is bitter, embarrassed, and outraged at the abuses, lies, and narcissistic entitlement that enabled this man to be a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize while enriching himself in the sleaziest manner imaginable. Even worse, Mortgenson conned the best of the elite, from Obama (who gave him $100,000) to Nicolas Kristof of the NYT, who considered him a personal friend. The case he makes is convincing, thoroughly documented, and in my view admirably balanced.

Krakauer dissects Mortenson's lies on three levels: 1) the ridiculous fabrications he makes about his abduction by the Taliban, his relationships with local leaders, and his inspirational moments; 2) the complete lack of accountability and transparency that allowed him to exploit his NGO to enrich himself with naked abandon, via such practices as using donations to promote his books, keeping the profits from sales for himself; 3) the mediocre results from his incompetence, his dysfunctional organization, and lack of followthrough - perhaps half of the schools he built are unused, many he claims to have built do not exist, and he has failed repeatedly to provide training and salaries to staff them. It is a truly devastating commentary and, if properly investigated, could result in fines and perhaps even prison. Mortenson should be stripped of his power and position as ultimately he will damage his cause. Indeed, his lies have not just embarrassed those he conned, but have actually put many of those he spoke about in danger of murder or ostracism.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By LittleMoon VINE VOICE on 26 May 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
On the one hand you have Greg Mortenson, humanitarian, and three times Nobel Peace Prize nominee, whose inspirational story has been told in the best selling Three Cups of Tea (TCoT), and Stones into Schools (SiS). On the other you have Jon Krakauer, acclaimed author and journalist, still best known for Into the Wild, and his bone-chilling Into Thin Air: Personal Account of the Everest Disaster.

Let's put Krakauer and Mortenson in context: they are not strangers and have met several times. Mortenson thanks Krakauer at the end of SiS, and Krakauer has donated a substantial amount of money to the CAI (Central Asia Institute). In March 2004 however, Krakauer sent a fax withdrawing his support: ""I still believe in CAI's mission, but I am made extremely uneasy by Greg's way of running the show. Although I don't want to make any public statements that would have a negative impact on Greg's work, I no longer feel comfortable providing financial backing, or lending my name, to CAI.""

At some point Krakauer changed his mind on the "public statements" and it's difficult not to be somewhat resentful and wonder why. How often are those held in high esteem demolished by a media eager to find the tiniest bone in their closet and create from it a hideous skeleton?
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Miss E. Potten on 4 Dec 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
"I wish I understood the pathology that has compelled the unending need to embellish the truth so flagrantly. With one hand Greg has created something potentially beautiful and caring (regardless of his motives). With the other he has murdered his creation by his duplicity." - Tom Hornbein, American physician and mountaineer, CAI chairman 2001-2

This quote pretty much sums up the argument of the book. I remember 'Three Cups of Tea' soaring into the bestseller lists and garnering rave reviews. I didn't buy it - and now I'm glad I didn't. Because the truth behind the schmaltz was rather different. Krakauer was one of the generous millions who donated a significant sum of money to Greg Mortenson's school project, and now he is the man exposing the lies that conned him into doing so.

This is a short book, but if you've been swept away by Mortenson's two offerings, you shouldn't hesitate to read it. Krakauer lives up to his reputation by unpicking truth from lie in Mortenson's narrative - and there are a LOT of lies. Encounters and stirring promises that never happened. A 'kidnapping' that was actually a generous welcome into a community which has now been disgraced by Mortenson's dramatic retelling. Schools that are already lying empty thanks to poor building decisions and a lack of resources and support.

Although CAI itself - that's the Central Asia Institute - comes across as a worthy and inspirational organisation, it is clear that its founder is out of control. The high and rapid turnover of the more capable staff suggests that people arrive with great aspirations and leave disillusioned almost immediately.
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