The Washington Post

‘Three Cups of Tea’ publisher launches review of author Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson with Jafarabad community schoolgirls, Shegar Valley, Karakoram mountains, northern Pakistan. (Courtesy Greg Mortenson (Central Asia Institute))

Update: Viking, the publisher of Greg Mortenson’s book “Three Cups of Tea,” has launched a review on the accuracy of the book, telling the New York Times that “60 Minutes is a serious news organization and in the wake of their report, Viking plans to carefully review the materials with the author.”

Mortenson spoke to Outside magazine about the investigation saying: “What happens then is, when you re-create the scenes, you have my recollections, the different memories of those involved, you have [co-author David Oliver Relin‘s] writing, and sometimes things come out different. In order to be convenient, there were some omissions. If we included everything I did from 1993 to 2003 it would take three books to write it.”

Questions about the accuracy of Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Tea” were raised on Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” The show investigated doubts that all of Mortenson’s stories in his inspirational best seller “Three Cups of Tea” — which chronicles his humanitarian actions to promote education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan — are 100 percent factual.

“Into the Wild” author Jon Krakauer told “60 Minutes” that Mortenson never stumbled into the Pakistani village of Korphe and promised to build a school, a central point in Mortenson’s book and speeches. An interview with a man Mortenson said was in the Taliban and kidnapped him said the claim is false. He told “60 Minutes” he was actually protecting Mortenson.

The “60 Minutes” report also raised questions over the dealings of Mortenson’s charitable organization, the Central Asia Institute. The group’s stated mission is “to promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.” The president of the American Institute of Philanthropy told “60 Minutes” the organization’s financial statements lack transparency and show that funds are spent primarily for domestic outreach, including a large sum for Mortenson’s book tour.

The “60 Minutes” crew did not get a response from Mortenson, even after they surprised him at a book signing. Mortenson responded by statement: “I stand by the information conveyed in my book and by the value of C.A.I.’s work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students.”

Does this “60 Minutes” report put doubts in your mind about Greg Mortenson’s best seller? Let us know in the comments.


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