Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer

Three Cups of Deceit sheds light on the myth of Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortenson. Krakauer, a well-known author of a number of excellent books, was conned by Mortenson along with many others. According to Krakauer's well-researched book, the accounting at the Central Asia Institute (Mortenson's charity) is highly suspect, and his books are filled with exaggerations and lies. Krakauer says that, were expenses reported honestly, "CAI's fundraising and administrative expenses would actually exceed 50 percent of its annual budget."

One of the things Mortenson has done is purchase tens of thousands of copies of his books to hand out for free at speaking engagements. A "significant number" were purchased using CAI's Pennies for Peace program ("contrary to Mortenson's frequent assertions that CAI uses 'every penny' of every donation made to Pennies for Peace to support schools"). By buying his books at retail, Mortenson earns royalties and augments his ranking on bestseller lists. In addition, many of the schools that have been built are called "ghost schools" because there is no support after the schools are built. "Even more alarming is the fact that a significant number of CAI school exist only on paper," writes Krakauer.

This is a disturbing book, especially since the information in it does not seem widely known. I highly recommend this book for anyone considering support Greg Mortenson's charity.

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