More trouble for “Three Cups of Tea” author Greg Mortenson: On the heels of Sunday’s damning “60 Minutes” investigation, journalist Jon Krakauer released “Three Cups of Deceit,” a digital expose of the bestselling writer. Krakauer, author of “Into Thin Air,” was an early supporter of Mortenson and his Central Asia Institute, giving $75,000 to the organization. But he said he cut off ties after watching Mortenson make millions by using the charity’s donations to promote his book tours and speaking engagements.
The final straw: Krakauer said he finally got around to reading Mortenson’s book last year, and said many of the claims about schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan and a kidnapping by the Taliban are lies. “Mortenson started with noble intentions and a great idea,” said Krakauer in a statement. “He has built dozens of schools that have educated thousands of kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He deserves credit for that. But very soon after he launched CAI, he lost his moral bearings. He betrayed the trust of countless people, including myself.”
Mortenson still has a few supporters: A State Department official who met with him overseas told us that the Pakistan communities where he’s worked have tremendous goodwill and respect for him.
This is much more than a writer’s feud: Mortenson has sold five million print copies of “Three Cups of Tea” and aggressively used the book to solicit almost $60 million in donations for the charity he founded and runs. Publisher Viking announced Monday it is launching an investigation into the book’s claims.
In a statement, Mortenson said he’s having heart surgery this week and not addressing media questions until he recovers.
Read earlier: Author Greg Mortenson under fire after critical “60 Minutes” report; defends himself to VIP supporters, April 18, 2011