Greg Mortensen and Admiral Mike Mullen
Greg Mortensen, the subject of best seller "Three Cups of Tea," pictured here with Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been accused of fabricating parts of his book. Photo Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/

Greg Mortensen, subject of the book “Three Cups of Tea” about his adventures in central Asia, has been accused of fabricating parts of his account. Accusations were brought by Jon Krakauer, another famed author who has likewise spent time in that region.

Famous writer accuses activist of fabricating his story

Author Jon Krakauer and others have accused Greg Mortensen, subject and co-author of best selling book “Three Cups of Tea,” of fabricating generous parts of his story. The book is about Mortensen’s travels in Pakistan and his work as the head of the Central Asia Institute. The book includes tales of building schools for girls in poverty stricken villages and enduring significant hardships along the way. He was inspired, according to the New York Times, by his stay in the village of Korphe. Korphe is a remote village in Pakistan near the infamous K2 mountain, and Mortensen spent time there recuperating from injuries and exhaustion sustained while getting lost, and he promised to repay the villagers by building them a school. Krakauer, whose many works include “Under the Banner of Heaven,” is among those who contend that Mortensen’s version of events is not how things actually happened. The publisher, Viking books, is investigating the matter.

CBS airs out accusations on ’60 Minutes’

CBS investigated “Three Cups of Tea,” and aired a segment about it on an April 17 episode of “60 Minutes,” according to MSNBC. During the program, several facts presented in the book were challenged directly. “Into the Wild” author Jon Krakauer said that Mortensen was never lost in the Himalayas and only found Korphe by accident a year after he tried to climb K2. CBS investigators also found some of the men who Mortensen said kidnapped him in 1996. “Three Cups of Tea” said Mortensen was kidnapped by Taliban members, but none of the men found were members of the Taliban. Furthermore, no one found corroborated the claim that Mortensen was taken against his will. There are also reports from people who do similar work in the same region, saying Mortensen and the Central Asia Institute do not do the level of word presented in the book, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Allegations blasted

Mortensen says the allegations are false and that CBS did not tell him what he was being accused of until the last minute. He also is worried the criticism could harm the potential for the CAI to do good in the region it specializes in. “I hope … the people doing these things know these things could be devastating for thousands of girls, for the sake of Nielsen Ratings,” he said. Various people have also raised concerns about the CAI and its finances, according to Wikipedia. The CBS special claimed that the CAI spent more on promoting Mortensen and his book than building and running schools.


New York Times:

Christian Science Monitor:



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