He makes more than public appearances annually, in all parts of the country and abroad, and frequently appears in the news. For each of the past three years he has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. As he walked onto the stage in the sold-out arena, more than two thousand men, women, and children leapt to their feet to express their admiration with cheers, whistles, and deafening applause. Hoping to get an autograph from Mortenson, hundreds of fans were holding copies of his book, which had spent the previous four years and two months on the New York Times paperback nonfiction bestseller list, and showed every sign of remaining there well into the future. Greg, twelve years her senior, had appointed himself her protector. After seventy-eight days of primal struggle at altitude on K2, he felt like a faint, shriveled caricature of himself.
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Instead, the fallen hero here is author Jon Krakauer, thanks to this ebook, which left me queasy with disgust. When Krakaeur appeared on 60 Minutes in accusing Greg Mortenson of 5 different types of fraud, I did what most probably did: I assumed Krakauer was right and shut off the TV.
What the hell happened in 70 pages that managed to turn me against my longtime favorite author? After writing two of the greatest adventure stories of the 20th century, Krakaeur shifted dramatically. It started in , when he swapped adventure writing for expose-style journalism. That shift in subject also marked a change in tone: his curiosity-driven prose morphed into rage-driven narratives.
Shock and outrage work well in Under the Banner of Heaven and Missoula. I know his style, and I recognize his shortcomings as a writer. He got an Environmental Studies degree in , and he worked for Outside Magazine for a while. He lacked the necessary experience to be in a leadership position, but he stayed in that role because he created the charity.
That sounds serious Who are these mystery people? Have you got a direct quote? Wait a minute Good one! You almost got me there, Jon! In any case, Krakauer proves nothing. Fact 3: Greg Mortenson repaid the CAI and stepped down from its board An investigation by the Montana Attorney General faulted Mortenson not for fraud, not for misappropriating or embezzling funds, but for misusing funds--aka, sloppy bookkeeping, aka a screwup.
It seems Krakauer wrote himself into a frenzy over something pretty Krakauer would say my assertion "demonstrates how difficult it is to correct a false belief after Oh no Christ, Jon, you should have been able to spot bullshit on the first page!
When I finally read the introduction, where co-author David Oliver Relin explains that he took creative license because Mortenson was impossible to track down, I was finally able to read the book. Humor me, Jon: How is that a scandal? How is that fabrication? Hey, Jon? Clearly, awesome stuff happens when a personal vendetta is the driving force behind your book! And I suppose Mortenson should be the one to bear the blame for all of it?
Not Krakauer, though, right? Maybe we need to rethink that philosophy, especially when the messenger is a goddamned jerk.
Fact 6: Jon Krakauer was one of my favorite writers There are 3 things unleash the crazy in me: people who lie, authors who try to bullshit me, and people who mess with my money. Believe me.
I feel your rage. Writers--all of us--have some degree of responsibility for what we write. If you were really concerned about misdeeds by Mortenson, you could have pursued the legal route. You wrote a sensationalist, manipulative ebook in which you let your rage distort the facts, while you tout your assumptions as the truth--and you did it not out of concern for the CAI or its donors, but because you wanted revenge.
Even worse? And sick. The problem with rage-fueled moralistic quests is that we all misfire at some point, and the wrong people get hurt. I asked Krakauer last week if Three Cups of Deceit was worth it, despite the tragic fallout.
He looked me in the eye and said, "Yes, absolutely" before launching into some explanation. His response was enough to make my flesh crawl. I stopped listening. Krakauer wants you to join him in that dark place where he resides. After 20 years of championing Krakauer, I now feel like the gullible reader, taken in and emotionally manipulated by my favorite writer. When our heroes turn out to be sleazebags self-deception is easier than facing the facts.
Yeah, screw this guy.
Three Cups of Deceit
Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way
Three Cups Of Deceit