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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Greg Mortenson and John Krakauer FACE OFF!

Have you read Three Cups of Tea by Mortenson? It's a great book. Tea summarizes Mortenson's work in Pakistan, building schools for children (girls specifically) and even bridges to improve the quality of living for small villages that otherwise would be isolated.

Kev sent me an article from Rock and Ice that discusses a 60 minutes special on Mortenson, and the accusations that a lot of his book is false.

Krakauer is one of Mortenson's biggest critics, and he even went to the trouble of writing an article to discredit him. However, R&I points out that Krakauer didn't go to the trouble of interviewing any of Mortenson's supporters.

If you've read the book, take a minute to read the linked article. What do you think of it all? Do the details of timeline matter as long as Mortenson really did help build schools for Pakistanis? Mortenson admits in his book that he's not the greatest organizer; so wouldn't it make sense that his memory regarding exact dates be a little fuzzy?

I don't really care for Krakauer myself. I've tried to read his book Under the Banner of Heaven, but it seems one of Krakauer's faults as a writer include NOT interviewing people who truly represent the topic he's "researching." I don't think he talked to a single real-life member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as he attempted to gather information to "compellingly detail{s} the history of the Mormon church..."

R&I thinks highly of Mortenson, as do I. It's unfortunate that some events may have been exaggerated for publicity purposes, since they're now coming under scrutiny and Mortenson's reputation is being discredited.

I want to believe in Mortenson. I want to believe that he really cares about Pakistan, education, and improving quality of life for others. I don't want it all to be a big scheme to promote a book and scam people out of money.

Let me know what you think.


  1. What?! Do people really have nothing better to do than to discredit other people? I don't think I want to read the article, but if Mortenson's book was exaggerated, than that is sad. As for the Krakauer guy, that is ridiculous to not interview people on both sides.

  2. That's interesting. That would be really sad to find out that he made up some of those stories. That's REALLY bad timing to do this to the poor guy the week he has heart surgery too, jeez! He seemed like such a good guy in the book but I guess even good guys make mistakes sometimes so I guess time will tell. Interesting 60 min. would run a show where they didn't have interviews from both sides, doesn't seem like their typical show. Keep me posted if you find out more (no tv in our house so sometimes I'm out of the loop).

  3. I haven't read 3 Cups of Tea--I want to now--but having read a couple of Krakauer's books, I like his style of writing. I just finished Into Thin Air a month ago, and he has a postscript of about 25 pages giving clarifications and corrections about details in interviews or previously missed interviews. It seems as though he tries to get the details right, or at least give the story of every possible witness who might have something new/different to add. I'm not for or against either side here, but thought I'd add my limited insight :)

  4. I have a few questions about this exposé.

    1) Has Mortenson built schools and helped people?

    2) If so, does it matter if he got details wrong or even exaggerated? Enough to try and shut down his work?

    2) Who is served by discrediting him?

    3) Why doesn't Krakauer interview supporters?

    4) Is Kraukauer a disinterested writer? (What made him decide to destroy this man's work and reputation?) He was not a disinterested party in the Everest story. People need to remember that. As riveting a writer as he is, he was involved and had whatever emotional processing he needed to go through after having experienced that climb where so many died. He gets obsessive and that can often obstruct objectivism.


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