Greg Mortenson has built a global reputation as a selfless humanitarian and children's crusader, and he's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. He is also not what he appears to be. As acclaimed author Jon Krakauer discovered, Mortenson has not only fabricated substantial parts of his best-selling books Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, but has also misused millions of dollars donated by unsuspecting admirers like Krakauer himself.
This is the tragic tale of good intentions gone very wrong.
100% of Jon Krakauer's proceeds from the sale of Three Cups of Deceit will be donated to the "Stop Girl Trafficking" project at the American Himalayan Foundation (www.himalayan-foundation.org/live/project/stopgirltrafficking).
©2011 Jeri Smith-Ready (P)2011 Random House
Krakauer is one of those authors whose taste I trust so much that I'd read basically anything he chooses to put the effort into writing. But my faith in him is being tested.
The two "Into" books are great, Eiger Dreams is worth reading, and Under the Banner of Heaven is wonderful; but the Pat Tilman book was overkill--the story just did not deserve a full-length book by an author of Krakauer's abilities.
This piece is even more marginal. It reads like an indictment, a litany of all the many petty crimes and misdemeanors of Greg Mortenson. It's not a nuanced story. The guy is a petty fabricator, who has managed to do some slight good in South Asia despite himself, but has embezzled far more than he's channeled into charity.
The reason Krakauer chooses to waste his prodigious talents on this topic is clear: he (Krakauer) was personally duped by the guy (Mortenson) and is still smarting from it. Fair enough, and someone needed to do the investigative journalism to make clear that there's absolutely no doubt the guy's a crook. But it's not worth listening to.
The story is excellent as Krakauer demolishes — but always respectfully — Greg Mortensen's fictions. Krakauer really goes above and beyond with his reporting to the point it's devastating. One great tidbit involves Mortensen's frequent claims of being kidnapped, held at gunpoint and in fear of being executed — and Mortensen even offers a photo of his scary Arab captors surrounding him with guns. Only Krakauer learns the people in the photo were actually his bodyguards and he finds other photos from the same session showing Mortensen clowning around with them.
The narrator is excellent.
I love when (good) Kindle singles are given the Audible treatment, but sometimes the price is too high. That's the case here, but if you wait for a big sale, I think the price better matches the length, but it's so good that the standard price is worth paying.
Would I? Already did. It's a small masterpiece. An unrelenting methodical, clear-eyed exposé of the flaws, lies, and criminal activities of the fraudster that personally robbed Krakauer of over $75,000 and has taken tens of millions from the rest of us.
This is not Krakauer's finest work (as a narrative piece it's probably his weakest) but it doesn't aim to compete with Krakauer's prior work. Krakauer simply aims to deconstruct, not explain, the fraud that is Greg Mortenson and in that mission the book is an unequivocal success. The read is at times unpleasant, as the truth is sometimes, but someone had to write this book. That it was a writer of Krakauer's caliber, who is personally familiar with Mortenson's charity, Mortenson, and a few other key characters in this sad saga, is just an unexpected bonus.
Krakauer, as the "character" who not only disassociated from the charity and its founder, but also took the time to publicly dismantle them. I'm thankful he took the time to write this mini-book; certain he had more exciting projects lined up.
Nice accents on the various characters. Not sure how precise the foreign accents were but it certainly added "color" to the story.
Confirmed my suspicion that even charities that start off innocently often metamorphosize into vehicles for the perpetuation of their leaders' personal interests.
A must read for anyone who has read Three Cups of Tea or Stones into Schools. A highly recommended read for the anyone who has ever donated or thought about donating to a public charity (i.e., everyone else).
Paid reviewers, after two weeks get 4-8 votes and have that power to strike unhelpful against others. Check their history! Your money!
Krakauer is one of my favorite authors. His best book is, Into Thin Air, which is an extremely exciting adventure. After writing several books on Mountain Climbing, JK got into investigating reporting. Often he goes into political incorrect areas that other journalist will not touch. I was amazed by his book, Under The Banner of Heaven, a report about the Mormons. It is very informative and you will not believe what is going on still today in the name of this religion. Where Men Win Glory, is a bio on Pat Tillman and a look at the amount of friendly fire that kills many of our soliders.
Three Cups is not as good as these others, but still it is a good informative read on how good people go bad. It is not near as long as his other books, it is just the right size for the subject matter. If you give to charities then you will want to listen to this short book.
If you were in charge of funding various endeavors around the world that had the potential to address global inequalities, would you know which ventures to fund and which ones would result in your funding con artists instead? Would a history of handing over money to con artists make you less willing to throw your money toward life changing proposed projects? It is a tricky job, to be sure. This book makes it clear that even extremely savvy, successful, and wealthy individuals can have a difficult time parsing the cons from more reliable individuals. Even at top levels, people seem enamored with charm and and good backstory, even if that story is made up of outrageous lies.
The fraud in this book, which was detailed in a fast-paced, engaging manner, reminded me of a lecture I once attended in which an investigator from the World bank spoke of the different ways the World Bank had been defrauded. The job of the World Bank is to determine where the greatest need is and who has the greatest potential to build businesses to help improve the economic situation in developing countries. With limited human resources, the World Bank attempts to find valid contractors who will carry out the proposed projects. However, there are not quite enough human resources to be effective. In order to know the money is well spent, individuals must travel the world to oversee all of the projects. As a result, an individual or a company can be given large sums of money to build some type of business in an impoverished part of the world, but pocket the money and build nothing. In other scenarios, actual buildings are constructed, but there are death threats made so that only the most corrupt individuals get the bid. Still other individuals work with those at the world bank, offering bribes. Corruption comes in many different forms and there are not enough investigators to detect the large number of frauds occurring at any given time.
Krakauer pointed out that the author of Three Cups of Tea seemed to have been taken in by Mortenson like everyone else was, and did not realize he was writing a book of lies. It seems that Mortenson was actually trying to do something good at some point, which made the fraud harder to detect. I could not help but recall the Decemviri, who were the most noble men Rome had to offer. Rome rose the Decemviri to power and the nobel men became drunk on that power, turning from trustworthy men who were fighting for equality to tyrants who tried to rule everyone. Mortenson seems to have actually been passionate about helping underprivileged children but became more interested in exploiting the stories of those children, and preying on the fears of people in developed countries, to gain money and fame.
As someone who was truly inspired by Mortenson's story and devotion to his cause, I was terribly saddened to read this expose of the facts concerning his massive deception. The most tragic thing is that this is a cause worth supporting, if it were to be honestly and effectively developed. The tragic flaw in Mortenson doesn't diminish the reality that the world badly needs this very kind of vision and grass roots assistance, and that his vision could have sown real seeds of mutual respect and understanding between two such different worlds. I hope so much that this is not the end of the story.
Yes. The story is woven with articulate facts in an engaging style.
All of Krakauer's other books-----------in a word = superb.
I will continue to read anything that Jon Krakauer writes. His style is captivating. The ONLY thing that would improve this audio-book would be if Krakauer himself would narrate it.
...its honesty in reporting and fact checking
...the courage to expose a crook that is a pillar of the charity world
For anyone who cherished Three Cups of Tea and gave or gives money to CAI, this book (Deceit) is a must read.
He is a good reader, and would have been infinitely preferable to the actor who read this story, putting sarcastic emphasis on all of Mortenson's made-up stuff. I hate hearing actors, unless it's a very complicated book, like Harry Potter, full of characters, each of whom need a different voice. Otherwise, we just want to hear the writer's voice. Krakauer read his first book, and read it well. This is his research, his important story. He really should have read it himself. It wouldn't have taken him very long, either. I give huge points to the writers who read their own stuff, like my personal god Mary Karr.
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