Monday, April 18, 2011

"Three Cups of Tea": Feel Good Fabrication?

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 11:00 AM

While it does appear that Greg Mortenson has done some amazing work Afghanistan and Pakistan, when you're making up stories to sell a book and raise money, that's definitely not a good thing. Or when as the Bozeman Daily Chronicle says, some of the schools aren't being used and maybe some don't even exist and the charity itself seems to largely exist to promote Mortenson's books, something's definitely not right at the Central Asian Institute.

The investigation by correspondent Steve Kroft, to be broadcast Sunday night, quotes "Into Thin Air" author and mountaineer Jon Krakauer as saying he learned from one of Mortenson's companions that the tale of how Mortenson got started was "a beautiful story" but "a lie."

The book told how Mortenson got lost on a 1993 climb of K2, the world's second highest peak, and then stumbled exhausted into the remote village of Korphe, was cared for by villagers, and promised to return and build a school.

"I stand by the story of ‘Three Cups of Tea,'" Mortenson said in a written statement, but added, "The time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993.

"As the co-author of the book, along with David Oliver Relin, I am responsible for the content in the book. There were many people involved in the story and also those who produced the manuscript. What was done was to simplify the sequence of events for the purposes of telling what was, at times, a complicated story."

On its website Friday evening, "60 Minutes" also reported that it interviewed three men whom Mortenson photographed and described as Taliban fighters who kidnapped him in 1996. They denied to CBS being Taliban and said they had protected, not kidnapped Mortenson. One man charged the writer's version was "totally false," a tale told "to sell his book."

Mortenson responded that the men, armed with AK-47s, had "detained" him, kept his passport and money, and had not allowed him to leave for eight days.

"I thought it best to befriend the people detaining me," he said, adding they may have perceived it differently.

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