Three Cups of Tea and his charity the Central Asia Institute have had their share of controversy lately. According to a 60 Minutes investigation on April 17, 2011, and accusations from author Jon Krakauer (Into the Wild, Into Thin Air), Mortenson's book contains substantial inaccuracies and his charity has been less than transparent. Interestingly, Jon Krakauer has written an e-book entitled Three Cups of Deceit which, even more bizarrely, wasn't disclosed by 60 Minutes when they reported their investigation.
Full disclosure: I tried to read Three Cups of Tea but wasn't as enamored with it as most people. I didn't get past the first couple of chapters. For nonfiction, I really need a strong hook and this one didn't pull me in. My sister Mary, on the other hand, raved about it and loved it. I promised her that I'd reread it but haven't done that yet. I was, however, particularly moved by all the good work that Mortenson did in building schools in Pakistan and helping to improve the plight of young girls, in particular. However, the inconsistencies found in Mortenson's account are now being reviewed by his publisher, Viking. Then there are the transparency problems with his sizeable charity which call his charity into question too.
I'm reminded of the situation with James Frey's A Million Little Pieces a few years back. That happened to be a book that I read almost in one sitting. And I was devastated to learn later that much of it was untrue. That also may have been about the time when I started to read less nonfiction.
Unfortunately, when things like this happen, it makes readers more skeptical whenever they pick up a book and that's disappointing because that trust is broken. It also makes it harder, I think, for writers of nonfiction to publish their stories because publishers become more skeptical as well.
How forgiving are you as a reader when you learn that details from a book were fabricated? What can/should publishers do?
P.S. For those of you dropping by for the A-Z April Blogfest, my apologies for not keeping up with the alphabet postings. There's just been too much other stuff going on (like the above). I thank you, though, for stopping by!! You totally rock.