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Customer Review

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars an angry, shame-filled investigation into the man who conned him, 10 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Three Cups of Deceit (Kindle Single) (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. That being said, Krakauer praises him for certain accomplishments, such as the schools where girls can receive education, and includes the arguments in favor of him, but it overwhelmingly points to a man who operates like a megalomaniac who cannot listen, cannot change his behavior or management style, and refuses to acknowledge important mistakes.

Krakauer concludes that we believed him because he appeared to be a positive story in a zone of the bleakest failure. However, it also highlights the lack of accountability that many NGOs enjoy when they are run by the wrong people. Recommended as a cautionary tale on fame, self-aggrandizement, and idealism gone awry.
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Location: Balmette Talloires, France

Top Reviewer Ranking: 563