Jon Krakauer


Three Cups of Tea update | 

Wikipedia, Penguin

Three Cups of Tea

The uproar over Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, continues.

The most complete collection of articles and posts written in response to the allegations of wrongdoing raised first by CBS’ 60 Minutes and, in greater detail, by former supporter and author Jon Krakauer’s Three Cups of Deceit can be found at the blog Good Intentions are Not Enough.

I won’t try to summarize the debate at this point, but I did want to take note of a few articles that I think raise some good points about our desire for the “heroic narrative” in humanitarian causes.

I wrote about this last week, in a post asking if this would be a teachable moment, and spoke to KUOW’s Steve Scher on Weekday about the danger so common in DIY aid of even well-intended people conflating their own personal success, as a leader, with the success of the mission.

Here are some more articles along similar lines:

The New Yorker: What Greg Mortenson Got Wrong

Alex Stonehill, Common Language Project: Greg Mortenson and Leadership Narrative Lies

The Guardian: Greg Mortenson’s Flawed One-Man Mission in Pakistan

Forbes: Doing Good is Hard Work

Three Cups of Tea: A teachable moment? | 

Wikipedia, Penguin

Three Cups of Tea

The debate about Greg “Three Cups of Tea” Mortenson is raging, and will rage for awhile.

There’s plenty to read out there (here’s a list of more than 80 articles compiled by Good Intentions are Not Enough) — from diatribes that condemn Mortenson as a self-promoting fraud to those who contend the critics are illegitimately focusing only on his failures while neglecting the many positive things he has achieved.

I posted yesterday on the critique written by former Mortenson supporter and fellow climber-author Jon Krakauer, because it appears to be the most informed. Krakauer was there (donating $75,000 to Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute) in the beginning — much of which, it turns out, took place in Seattle — and from his reporting I’d say he knows more than most about how this attempted ascent in humanitarianism has been foiled by an avalanche of misdeeds and poor judgment.

Krakauer’s online booklet, Three Cups of Deceit, emphasizes the bad (because that’s what’s new here) but does take brief note of the good. Anyone who wants to know what happened here should read this.

We are now in the point-counterpoint stage. The points and counterpoints are just going to keep piling up like scree on the side of a mountain, with detractors and supporters tossing rocks at each other.

But what can the rest of us learn from this debacle? Continue reading

Ten sips from “Three Cups of Deceit” — starting in Seattle | 

Flickr, aubergene

Jon Krakauer describes Greg Mortenson’s “Three Cups of Deceit,” and its Seattle origins.

By now, most of you have probably heard something about the allegations of literary fabrication and financial misdeeds of the celebrated humanitarian Greg Mortenson, author of the inspiring book Three Cups of Tea.

The accusations were aired on CBS last Sunday, on 60 Minutes.

Now, fellow mountain climber and author Jon Krakauer — one of the early Seattle supporters of Mortenson’s philanthropic efforts — has written a much more detailed, and potentially devastating, account of what he says went wrong with this effort to bring education and empowerment to the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It all began in Seattle. Continue reading