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Update on Greg Mortenson and ‘Three Cups of Deceit’

Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson

Author and philanthropist Greg “Three Cups of Tea” Mortenson is back in the news with his attorneys asking a judge to toss out a lawsuit that accuses him of defrauding readers and donors.

For a quick reminder of what Mortenson is accused of, you can read Jon Krakauer’s devastating critique and online booklet Three Cups of Deceit — or my synopsis of it, Ten Sips from Three Cups of Deceit.

According to the Associated Press, Mortenson is basing his defense on another author, James Frey, who was made infamous on the Oprah Winfrey Show where he was first celebrated and then later exposed for fabricating much of his story.

“Plaintiffs should not be allowed to create a world where authors are exposed to the debilitating expense of class action litigation just because someone believes a book contains inaccuracies,” contends Mortenson’s attorney John Kauffman.

In Mortenson’s case, however, the alleged fictional accounts in his books were used to not just sell the books but also to raise funds for his philanthropy, the Central Asia Institute, which builds schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. As stated in the AP story:

The lawsuit accuses the Montana resident of being involved in a racketeering scheme to turn him into a false hero, defraud millions of people out of the price of the books and raise millions in donations to the charity. The other defendants allegedly in on the scheme are co-author David Relin, publisher Penguin Group and Mortenson’s Bozeman-based charity, Central Asia Institute.



About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.