Posted in Miscellany

fact or fiction, here we go again

While the publishing industry waited to see whether it faced the embarrassment of yet another partly fabricated memoir, Greg Mortenson, the co-author of the best-selling “Three Cups of Tea,” a book popular with the Pentagon for its inspirational lessons on Afghanistan and Pakistan, forcefully countered a CBS News report on Sunday that questioned the facts of his book and the management of his charitable organization.

Apparently the dramatic incident that launched his mission for education never happened or at least not in any way resembling the inspirational incident (man near death, rescued by villagers, vows to return and build school). I don’t much care as long as kids are getting schooled. But…60 minutes visited 30 out of 54 of his charity’s schools, found half of them empty or funded by someone else. Everyone associated with Mr. Mortenson including American high-ups who want to believe in him (and so would I) are staying low-key, wait and see.

I think the notion is an important and fabulous one. I am 100% behind providing assistance and funding for education in those regions. If it isn’t happening, then it ought to be, and those who can make it happen should be encouraged and funded. Those who aren’t–well, better to know the truth rather than cling to wishfulness, so the wish can become reality.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

3 thoughts on “fact or fiction, here we go again

  1. I agree that the media emphasis is on the wrong part of the story here. Whether the incident did or didn’t happen, there are children out in the poor parts of the world desperate for education. That’s a truth that matters. Plus, aid is notoriously hard to give – let’s put all our resources into fixing the aid problem rather than pointing fingers or anything else unproductive.

  2. I’m with Litlove — can we focus on what really matters here? Although the story about Mortenson is very interesting and hard to resist — interesting to think about what motivates a person to exaggerate and possibly lie. But ultimately, we need our focus on the work he apparently wasn’t really getting done.

  3. Yes, especially since these are places were the Islamic fundamentalists have made great inroads by providing (strictly religious) education for children (boys). How much good could be done by putting 1/10th of what is spent on the military into schools?

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