Bestselling Memoir a 'Pack of Lies'

Greg Mortenson 'fudged facts,' treats charity like 'personal ATM': journo
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2011 2:22 AM CDT
Charity Bestseller 'Pack of Lies'
Author Greg Mortenson, his son Khyber, and daughter, Amira Mortenson, with students at Gultori War refugee school, Bromolo Colony, Karakoram mountains.   (PRNewsFoto/Central Asia Institute, Deirdre Eitel)

A bestselling memoir about an American's efforts to build schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan has been lashed as a "pack of lies" in a 60 Minutes investigation. In Three Cups of Tea, author Greg Mortenson wrote about his experience being nursed to health by Pakistani villagers after he became lost after a mountain trek on K2. Their kindness sent him on a path of school building. But 60 Minutes skewers the book as a fabrication and asserts that Mortenson uses his charitable organization, Central Asia Institute, as a "private ATM machine." Mortenson, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, didn't meet villagers until a year after he says he did, and most of the 170 schools he claims to have built are either empty or were built by others, according to the investigation.

"It's a beautiful story, and it's a lie," says award-winning journalist Jon Krakauer, who donated $75,000 to the charity before investigating it. Mortenson's tale of being kidnapped by the Taliban in his best-selling sequel, Stones Into Schools, is also discounted. Mortenson countered in an email to supporters that the news program "used inaccurate information," without revealing details, reports ABC News. As for the date of when he visited the Pakistani village, he said villagers have a "completely different notion about time." (More Greg Mortenson stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.