More books: Three Cups of Tea and Three Cups of Deceit

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a TimeThree Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson

I’m reading this at a poignant time, as Mortenson is in trouble according to 60 Minutes, and ill according to a letter he sent to the Central Asia Institute’s mailing list (which someone else put me on a few years ago–I have paid no attention to it until now), and Osama Bin Laden is not only living in one of those wild, isolated places Mortenson describes, but was carried dead out of a mansion within a suburban enclosure.

Our church’s Junior Youth Group recently did a fund drive for Pennies for Peace, and we’re holding the money until we can get more information. I have to say this book is full of what sound like fables, but that may be the influence of the news articles I’ve read. I’m currently reading Jon Krakauer’s “Three Cups of Deceit,” the e-book in which he gives the lie to Mortenson’s stories. I can’t draw any sort of conclusion from Mortenson’s book except to say that I love stories where someone fairly aimless finds a good thing to do, and it certainly sounded good in theory. I absolutely agree that education is key to changing the world, not only at the very local and personal level but also in the larger sense. I also can’t stand non-profits that do not live up to their fiduciary trust with donors or recipients. Clearly there is more to unfold here.

The book itself is not great. It turns Mortenson into an engaging character, mostly, but it’s not particularly well-written despite having a writer do it for Mortenson.

Three Cups of DeceitThree Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I downloaded Jon Krakauer’s ebook from Byliner when it was being offered for free. I’m trying to determine what to do with funds our Junior Youth raised for Pennies for Peace in the week or two before the 60 Minutes expose of Greg Mortenson. It’s depressing to think that someone with such a right-minded idea (education can bring peace) would be so careless with the facts in order to make his point. It’s one thing to exaggerate a story to sell an idea; preachers do it all the time! But in the non-profit world, including churches, transparency about money is enormously important. Krakauer makes a convincing case that Mortenson has lied and misused the faith of his donors, large and small. How disillusioning for all the schoolchildren who have brought in their lunch money to help build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan! There will be more revelations before this is over, inevitably, sadly.

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3 thoughts on “More books: Three Cups of Tea and Three Cups of Deceit”

  1. I agree in being sad about the money situation. RE the stories in 3 cups of tea…I read that a while ago but I seem to recall that he actually says at the beginning that he does it from memory a few years after the events happened, which means to me that there may be some inaccuracies or conflations of a couple of events into one story. If all the accusations are true, there is a big problem…but I tend to think the truth is somewhere in between. Either way–disappointing RE money…

  2. Thank you for these reviews…I wonder if we'll ever get to "the bottom of the story" of how deeply Mortensen exaggerated and how much money was diverted from where people hoped it would go. Definitely such a disappointment. I think you are so wise to hold the money until more has been revealed; your kids and congregation will appreciate that!!!

  3. Have you read Nicholas Kristof's op-ed piece in the New York Times? He contends that maybe rather than malfeasance on Mortenson's part, it's disorganization. He notes that not everyone has the gifts to run a multi-million dollar nonprofit. Anyway it made me feel better, because I loved that book!

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