Greg Mortenson Biography
In April 2011, the CBS documentary "60 Minutes" called into question Greg Mortenson's work. The program alleged inaccuracies in Three Cups of Tea and its sequel, Stones into Schools as well as financial improprieties in the operation of Mortenson's Central Asia Institute. Questions were also raised about Mortenson's claim that he got lost near K2 and ended up in Korphe; that he was captured by the Taliban in 1996; the number of schools the CAI claimed to have built and whether CAI funds had been used appropriately for Mortenson's book tours. View the broadcast. Jon Krakauer, who had supported the CAI to the tune of $75,000, also questioned Mortenson's accounts and released his allegations in a lengthy article titled Three Cups of Deceit
David Oliver Relin, Mortenson's co-author on Three Cups of Three Cups of Tea, suffered emotionally and financially as basic facts in the book were called into question. He died Nov. 15, 2012 in Multnomah County, Ore at the age of 49. His family said Mr. Relin "suffered from depression" and took his own life.
From Greg Mortenson's website 2009
Greg Mortenson is the founder of nonprofit Central Asia Institute
co-author of New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea
"Three Cups of Tea: One Mans Mission To Promote Peace
School At A Time", co-authored by David Oliver Relin (Penguin 2007) was also a
TIME Magazine Asia Book of the Year, received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers
Association (PNBA) nonfiction Book Award, and the prestigious 2007 KIRIYAMA
nonfiction book award.
Mortenson grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania from 1958 to 1973.
His father established a teaching hospital, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical
Center, and his mother founded the International School Moshi.
He was a U.S. Army medic in Germany during the Cold War (1977-1979), where he
received the Army Commendation Medal, and later graduated from the University of
South Dakota in 1983, and pursued graduate studies in neurophysiology.
His lifelong interest in mountaineering culminated in a 1993 climb of Pakistans
treacherous K2, the worlds second highest mountain, which changed his life.
Since 1993, Mortenson has dedicated his life as a humanitarian devoted to
promote education, especially for girls, in remote, volatile regions of Pakistan
As of 2009, Mortenson has established over 90 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 34,000 children, including 24,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.
In 1996, he survived an eight day armed kidnapping in the Northwest Frontier
Province tribal areas of western Pakistan, escaped a 2003 firefight with feuding
Afghan warlords by hiding for eight hours under putrid animal hides in a truck
going to a leather-tanning factory. He has overcome two fatwehs from Islamic
mullahs, and also received hate mail and threats from his fellow Americans after
9/11, for helping Muslim children with education.
Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan,
where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders and tribal
chiefs from his tireless effort to champion education, especially for girls.
He is one of few foreigners who has worked extensively for fourteen years in the
region now considered the front lines of the war on terror. Mortenson has
traveled to more than sixty countries in lifetime.
His cross-cultural expertise has brought him to speak on U.S. Capital Hill,
National think tanks, the Pentagon, Dept. of Defense, U.S. State Dept.,
libraries, outdoor groups, universities, schools, churches, mosques, synagogues,
business and civic groups, women's organizations and much more.
Mortenson is an advocate of girls education as one of the major solutions to
bring economic development, peace and prosperity to impoverished societies, and
says, "you can hand out condoms, drop bombs, build roads, or put in electricity,
but until the girls are educated a society wont change".
NBC newscaster, Tom Brokaw, calls Mortenson, "one ordinary person, with the
right combination of character and determination, who is really changing the
While not overseas half the year, Mortenson, 51, lives in Bozeman, Montana with
his wife, Dr. Tara Bishop, and two children.
He is the recipient of Pakistan's highest civil award (The Star of Pakistan) for his sixteen years work to promote education and peace. His second book, Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was published in December 2009.
This biography was last updated on 12/03/2012.
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