What’s the “Big Problem?”

In 1986, my ex-wife and I crossed the Khunjerab Pass into northern Pakistan’s Hunza Valley from China.  On a recommendation from a traveler, we hired a guide to lead us on a three-day trek to the village of Shimshal.  The guide, we soon learned, only seemed to know two words of English:  “Problem?” and “no problem.”  The first day, we met some men from Shimshal on the trail.  Soon, everybody was yelling and gesturing wildly.  I asked our guide, “Problem?”  He responded with a third word of English:  “Big problem.”

The big problem was that our guide hailed from Chapursan, the next valley over, and the Shimshal men insisted we hire a local porter.  After some negotiations, they put one of our packs on a teenage boy from Shimshal, and we had a new expedition member.

I dredge this story up in the context of the Mortenson/Krakauer/60 Minutes flap for a few reasons.  The most important is to back everybody down from this Red/Blue, black/white version of events:  things are not simply “problems,” or “no problems.”  Mortenson is neither a saint nor a charlatan; Krakauer is not either a jilted crank or a crusading do-gooder.  There are nuances, debatable “facts” and conflicting motivations in almost every situation, messy and at times seemingly irreconcilable.  This is no exception.

I appreciate the many comments I’ve received on the last post, and let me take on a few issues that popped up.  First, I’m not Mortenson’s friend or apologist.  As I made it clear in my post, I met him 14 years ago, thought he was a bit odd and very interesting, and like his idea of building schools for girls in an otherwise forgotten corner of the world. Because of the response to my post, I have spent the last couple days talking with old Himalaya hands, people who know Mortenson, and others work in the development field. I find some of the allegations against him to be deeply troubling, and I already wrote that he’s probably ill-suited to run an organization that’s become as big as the Central Asia Institute (CAI).

But it’s not a simple story, if you ask me.  Jon Krakauer has a well-deserved reputation as a dogged reporter, but he, of all people, should know that different people have different versions of the same event.  There are some who still bitterly dispute the veracity of his account of events on Everest that he chronicled, first in Outside magazine, and then in Into Thin Air.

The allegations against Mortenson seem to break down into three parts:  first is that “Dr. Greg” is a mythomaniac, who has embellished, exaggerated and downright lied in order to promote and enrich himself.  The second is that he committed a series of financial improprieties, again with the goal or result of enriching himself.  The third is that he ran a shoddy operation that wasn’t very efficient.

It’s been hard for me to find anybody who is deeply troubled about the “compression” of events in Mortenson’s CAI creation myth in Three Cups of Tea.  While writing my own memoir, Monkey Dancing, I received this fabulous advice from my editor:  “Chronology is not structure.”  I don’t want to shock anybody, but most narrative non-fiction wrestles with this conundrum.

That said, put me in the camp of those who want to know more about the Taliban abduction story and other questions that Krakauer raises.  But we already know that one character in that kidnapping saga, as Krakauer footnotes in his “Three Cups of Deceit,” has a cousin who seems to be an all-purpose bad guy and who had concocted a scheme to kidnap Mortenson.  Then Krakauer tells us the importance of clan in that part of the world.  So who’s telling the whole truth?  Krakauer quotes another source, Ghulam Parvi (whom I met in 1998), who testifies against Mortenson.  Then Krakauer quotes Parvi as admitting “that willingly or unwillingly I have spent the wealth of CAI at my own.”  He’s what lawyers – and journalists – might call an “impeachable source.”  And, as I learned in my first trip to Hunza 25 years ago with the porter imbroglio — and the State Department and Pentagon are still learning — Pakistan is a complicated place.

As for the financial mismanagement allegations, from the way I read the available information, CAI spent $1.7 million for Mortenson to travel around promoting CAI and his book, and CAI received $20 million in donations.   That’s a pretty good return on investment if you ask me.  We’ll leave it to the lawyers, accountants and the IRS to figure out how legal that all is.

But the crux of the allegations, as far as I’m concerned, isn’t about whether Mortenson is a terrible accountant:  it’s whether he personally ripped off CAI funds to fly on private jets and vacation in Telluride – or worse.  If Mortenson’s got a Caymen Islands bank account with millions of CAI contributions in it, he can go to jail.  But I’m guessing that Mortenson has not been stealing pennies from schoolchildren to fly around on private jets because he likes the free drinks.  Mortenson may have a number of strange and obstinate qualities, but from those who know him, venality doesn’t appear to be one of them.  As Krakauer wrote, quoting former CAI board member Jennifer Wilson, sometimes Mortenson couldn’t even be bothered to reel in donations:   “I would talk to people who expressed interest in making a sizable contribution,” Wilson said, “but when they tried to contact Greg he wouldn’t get back to them.”

Which leads to the mismanagement question, and the “ghost schools,” and finding ways to evaluate how effective Mortenson’s essential mission has been:  to build schools in places where there are none, and especially to promote the education of young girls.  My question is, “compared to what?”  Madonna’s recent $15 million debacle in Malawi trying to build girls schools there?  USAID’s efforts in Afghanistan?  Other NGOs operating in Baltistan?  I went to southern Sudan last year to document UN humanitarian relief efforts, and can tell you that efficiency is not at the top of the list of the programs’ best qualities.  And nobody, not even Krakauer, is suggesting that Mortenson has run a phantom operation:  there are many schools that are up, running, and educating kids in villages where he has worked.  CAI still owes its donors an accounting of how many are functioning, and how many have failed.

Mortenson, when he recovers from his surgery, has a lot of ‘splaining to do.

But so does Krakauer.  “Why?” I’d like him to answer, and “why now?”

The fundamental point I made in my first post remains:  educating girls and young women in Central Asia (and elsewhere) is an important and commendable goal – and Mortenson has succeeded in doing just that.  As Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn made abundantly clear in their bestseller Half the Sky, girls’ education is a fundamental building block to improve almost every other social indicator, from infant mortality to life expectancy.

Ignoring the importance of what Mortenson has inarguably been doing for the past 18 years – building schools and improving many girls’ lives — would constitute a truly “big problem.”


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29 Responses to What’s the “Big Problem?”

  1. Sue Ann Todhunter says:

    Thanks, Dan — I was pretty bummed when I saw the “60 Minutes” segment but really appreciate your perspective (including the advice from your editor)!

  2. Stu says:

    This is a much more balanced blogging of the GM Fiasco. We obviously need to get more explaining from GM.

    As to JK’s motive? I could only see one, he thinks he was conned from donating 75K — but perhaps millions of readers were too. Unless Krakauer’s other motive is for the good of the nonfiction community, to uphold integrity and confidence from readers that we get is as accurate as it gets when we buy the books.

    And to reply to some of your comments about the veracity of Into Thin Air. Krakauer himself admitted that there were inaccuracies on his book. And he rectified it. One reason is that the hypoxic effect on the brain makes recollection very difficult. Plus, the immediacy of writing that book could not separate whatever messy emotions he felt during that stormy night. The most bitter dispute came from Anatoli Boukreev, the guide who did not use bottled oxygen.

    But I felt that the inaccuracies were not there to embellish nor to improve his image (unlike Mortenson)– I thought they were innocent mistakes. He made recurrent admissions and allusions that probably he probably contributed for the death/s of other climbers for not going back to help them.

    • Kate says:


      I would like a link to where Krakauer rectified anything in “Into Thin Air,” or “Into the Wild.” Do you still believe Boukereeve caused the deaths of people because he didn’t use oxygen? Do you still believe Chris McCandlass died from moldy potato plants?

      This is where people’s anger is coming from, that Krakauer has made his share of mistakes, but has not corrected them, not publically, not in reprints. His sources in “TCD” are starting to melt, but he won’t correct it either, unfortunately. His “no interviews” stance is the same position he took when he was criticized over both books, so excuse us skeptics.

  3. MountainLover says:

    Thanks for the much more balanced perspective on this. I was at the Atlanta conference that Mortenson was speaking with 12 of my middle school students before being approached by 60 Minutes. It was the National Service Learning Conference where thousands of middle school, high school and college students gather with their adult mentors to celebrate each other’s work and learn how to be more effective leaders in their communities. 60 Minutes was truly classless to approach him at that event and in that manner. They also blitzed him with this story and have not given him a chance to respond…classless.

    That being said there are a few very pressing questions that Mortenson needs to explain when he is healed up. I will reserve judgement until I learn more…it is important for my understanding to note that even his critics are admitting that he has helped tens of thousands of children in Afghanistan and Pakistan receive an education they otherwise would not have gotten. It seems that this situation will work itself out with time, and that Mortenson is more guilty of disorganized management, and staying focused on the message instead of staying focused too much at the expense of the bureaucracy with which American organizations must operate. He was working sloppily and needs to step back for a minute to clean up the mess…and reassure everyone about what is going on.

    I have also enjoyed Krakauer’s writings over the years. Even though I happen to agree with most of his obvious biases in Into the Wild, the Pat Tilman, and the Mormon church books, his writings are certainly not unbiased and certainly not complete stories. I read his books like a Tea Party member watches Fox News. He wears his bias on his sleeve, uses creative non-fiction writing practices to share facts when they support his story, and plays to his audience like a good story teller does. He and Mortenson are both good story tellers in that way. But he does not have the market cornered on what the truth is, and has certainly cashed in on this practice over the years whether through the books or the movie adaptations of Into Thin Air and Into the Wild.

    Stu mentioned Anatoli Boukreev, and I would recommend that readers on here look into Boukreev’s book, The Climb, where he demonstrates through word and picture the lies that Krakauer shared in Into Thin Air. This is important to understand that the credibility of Krakauer in the realm of truth-telling has been shaky over the years.

    Krakauer’s motives, I feel, would probably be:
    1. Being upset since he gave $75K and things are not run as he wants them to be;
    2. How much $ did Krakauer actually receive from 60 Minutes? I would be VERY interested in knowing that…
    3. Krakauer is already selling his manifesto “Three Cups of Deceit” and nothing helps to sell writing like a bit of controversy;
    4. Jealousy that there is a writer-climber more famous than he is at this point;

    Thanks for the writings Daniel, and at least not jumping to the assumption that he is guilty – or innocent. Like most people out here, we will wait to see how everything plays itself out…

  4. Arlene Burns says:

    it is indeed refreshing to read this conversation, eloquently articulated.. and fascinating how folks fall to one side or the other… Having spent many hours/days with anatoli for years pre and months post the big everest saga, i tend to question Jon’s motives, of putting his life force into destroying the reputation/publicly disgracing these members of the tribe.. Most people judge in black and white, and never bother to read the rebuttals or the conversations prompted as its easier to rile in disgust than to investigate and explore various realms of possibility.. including the innate nature of a man, and in greg’s case, it is far from evil.. i think most people forget that he wrote his book when he had very little publicity/celebrity telling the story of his life altering journey from self serving climber to helping in small ways that were giant in these remote places.. now war torn, and indeed logistically challenging to navigate both geographically and politically.. And as Daniel pointed out, for those who have not tasted the dust of remote pakistan or other third world locales, its hard to understand how different and difficult that world is to translate into ours.. and very much like the armchair adventurers who became magnetized to Everest in 96, be very careful about judging from your couch potato seat in a circumstance far away.. esp without all the information..

    regardless of the flaws in greg’s management, i salute his legacy as profound accomplishment, helping give voice/education to the otherwise neglected, and this type of aid is the opposite of bombs and bullets..

    perhaps we will hear from some of those children…

  5. Clarkbart says:

    Thanks for the other perspective as I included on the other post this seems to possibly answer the why now-Jon Krakauer, whose accusations were the centerpiece of 60 Minutes’ own investigation, has written a 75-page book on the same subject, “Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way.” No doubt, the 60 Minutes interview was a fabulous plug for Mr. Krakauer. It seems to me it had to have been written BEFORE the 60 minutes video.

    As far as comparison think of this- USAID has allocated $35 million (of government money) on a contract to rebuild just two schools Ghazi Boys High School and Sardar-e-Kabuli Girls High School in Kabul. This is about all the money CAI has spent in its entire existence combined for all the schools, programs, and outreach. Where is 60 Minutes on Arnold Fields’ decision to step down after his critics claimed he failed to aggressively oversee the more than $56 billion (Yes that’s billion with B) the US has poured into Afghanistan since 2002 to rebuild schools, roads and other facilities?

  6. Stu says:

    I just don’t understand why some people defend Mortenson by pulling off the litany of his good deeds and humanitarian works. Those facts are not disputed, and as Nicholas Kristof would write in his NY Times column, Mortenson has built more schools in those areas than you and I could in our lifetime.

    The crux of this brouhaha is the fiction on his books and below boards management of CAI (only 41 percent of the money raised in 2009 went to build schools).

  7. Arun Mahajan says:

    Dear Sir,
    Thanks you for the article. As you have noted before yourself, the value of what Mr Mortenson is doing is nuanced as well, the building of bridges to the Muslim world, especially in that part of the world. When there is such a climate of hate, brought more to the fore by the terrorists, here is a guy who not only is above that but he also reaches out and actively helps. This is as close to being Gandhian. Sadly, the 60 mins piece has made many people loose their liking/admiration for Greg. I am off course hoping and praying that Greg did nothing wrong but I am still married to the ideal and the cause he has been espousing.
    Arun Mahajan, Palo Alto, Ca

  8. PhilFR says:

    Great post, Dan. Thanks.

    Caveat: I haven’t taken the time to become as deeply versed in this particular controversy as you. But I know the general issues, including some of the more troubling accusations that do need to be addressed. And as someone who’s been in the nonprofit sector for years and seen what comes with rapid growth and working internationally, I feel like I’ve seen part of this movie before.

    Leading a small but rapidly growing nonprofit/NGO is incredibly hard, even if you’re good at it. (And by his own admission, Mortenson isn’t.) Certainly the tech world has embraced the maxim: “Try big, and win or lose big. And do it fast.” The NGO sector, and especially the public perception of it, has lagged substantially in that embrace of risk-taking. We all are the worse for it, directing too much of our funding to ‘efficient’ Big NGO’s (disparagingly known as BINGOs) who dominate the international aid space. These orgs certainly make a difference, but are rarely rarely game-changers.

    And so I’m not so apoplectic when I see what looks like a financially inefficient, young and rapidly growing organization. Or that they maybe made decisions that might have been rational but run afoul of rules. CAI has been in what must be a very difficult rapid-growth cycle, and I’m willing to let an inspired, impressive young organization make mistakes as it learns. (Unfortunately, I expect they’re about to enter an equally difficult collapse.)

    Growth pains are hard wherever you are. If you add in the complexity of working across cultures and massive wealth-disparities in a complex environment like Pakistan, should I be surprised that some ‘buildings’ never get built? Or that bribes are paid? And bad people maybe benefited?

    Ultimately, I fear this is just another take-down… the ACORN of early 2011. While I could see the political utility to the right of taking down ACORN, I’m afraid I don’t see how anyone wins here. If you scratch any change-maker a bit too much you’ll find skeletons in closets. I’m not ready to put up the gallows just yet. (Though it’s not to early to start writing the obituary for CAI, I’m afraid.)

  9. Rich P says:

    Daniel: You said above: “It’s been hard for me to find anybody who is deeply troubled about the “compression” of events in Mortenson’s CAI creation myth in Three Cups of Tea.” I am, because according to Mr Krakauer, we’re not talking about “compression” of events, we’re talking about complete fabrication. Maybe you haven’t read it, but Krakauer’s proof would be the 1993 article Mr. Mortensen wrote for the American Himalayan Foundation newsletter asking for funding to build a school he had promised the village Khane, not Korphe (p 8-10). The school he later built in Korphe broke that promise which doesn’t make as good a story for a book. While I haven’t checked AHF articles, I imagine this is easily verifiable and if true, it shows Mr. Mortensen’s current “time compression” explanation as another fabrication. Digging one’s hole yet deeper is not very good idea if you ask me.

    And while you mention Naimat Gul Mahsud’s failed kidnapping plan, you don’t mention Mansur Khan, who Mortensen called a Taliban member, though he now the director of Research and Administration at the FATA Research Centre, a think tank in Islamabad. Nor do you mention Ted Callahan’s observations on the building of the school (without student or teach, apparently) in Bozai, the centerpiece of “Stones to Schools.”

    Also, quite independent of 60 Minutes or Krakauer, The American Institute of Philanthropy has been questioning the CAIs lack of financial transparency for over a year and a half: http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/CentralAsiaInstitute.html

    When I downloaded Mr Krakauer’s book this afternoon I was on Greg Mortensen’s side, looking for holes in Mr Krakauer’s story, not Mortensen’s. I found a few, for instance on pg 49, he tells a story of CAI staffers cooking the books for an independent audit with no mention of a source. But mostly I came away with the feeling that Mr Mortensen’s explanations had better be serious and detailed and have nothing to do with the Balti sense of time.

    (BTW Krakauer’s author proceeds will go to the Stop Girl Trafficking Project says the Byliner website–someone above said he is selling the ebook, not yet…it’s still free)

    • Kate says:

      Show me the money. It’s all about transparency, right?

      • Hi Rich,

        I wonder..do we not ourselves create a fabrication, when we state something is true based on what another has said, without checking the facts ourselves?

        “While I haven’t checked AHF articles, I imagine this is easily verifiable and if true, it shows…another fabrication.”

        Isn’t the imagining above a fabrication of conjecture? Might we all be better served if we could check the AHF newsletter and then further our debate? this might be better than using than unknown to create an “If true, then…aha!”? I’ve tried to find this AHF letter and would very much like to read its contents. If it were so damning, why isn’t it provided as evidence by Greg’s maligners and easily accessible? Hm.

        I was very disappointed in corporate media in their display of unity. Rather than investigate independently, as worthy journalism might demand, even major “fit to print” publications only echoed JK as the standard of truth. It seems, “If true, then” logic is what our mass media depends upon to force a unified agenda, yes? If we study things on our own, we may be better satisfied. From those journalists I’ve found who took it upon themselves to honorably do so–such as Jennifer Jordan of the Salt Lake Trib–we receive a much different Greg perspective than the echoing mass.


        In peace,

  10. Steve says:

    At the end of any day, most of what we take away from our fellow man is our experience of that individual. Through various times this past year I have been fortunate enough to be the Captain on some of those “evil” private jet flights Greg has utilized in furtherance of his mission.

    I believe a little perspective is in order. First and foremost, prior to booking any of these trips, Greg approached his Board of Directors to gain their approval for the private flights. He proffered the argument that he could maximize [his] speaking engagements by managing his time more effectively, which he certainly did. We could (and frequently did) cover four cities in four or less days that otherwise would have taken at least a week plus with normal “commercial” air travel. On many of these trips Greg would fly alone and literally work from wheels up to touchdown. Moreover, as is his practice, usually upon completion of his engagements he conducts a book signing and the man will NOT leave the venue until the last guest has been spoken to and / or had a book signed. No matter that it is 0300 in the morning. In short, travel in this manner is a shrewd and calculated business practice. There’s a reason why the majority of the Fortune 500 companies all have private aircraft at their disposal.

    As to his work ethic, I’ve seen Greg exhausted to the point of physical debilitation. A twenty-hour work day is NOT unusual for him and I’ll submit this is not the MO for someone that has ulterior motives. As to financial enrichment, it’s hard to say without some sort of independent audit, but I can attest to the fact that when he arrives at his home airport in Bozeman, it’s in a (circa 2004) four-door sedan (I believe of Japanese make). Notice it’s not a Ferrari or Rolls. Finally, Greg values his wife and children beyond description and if I may, never, in all the time we spent together, did I ever see any narcissistic or self-aggrandizing tendencies or behavior. I believe he eats a generous portion of humble pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    We’ve all been “fooled” before, but usually only because we obviate the signs telling us otherwise. Again, my personal experience of Greg just doesn’t track with Krakauer’s and the media’s portrayal. As to motive, only they know, but I do believe there are those that on many different levels would love to see Mr. Mortenson’s mission fail. Regardless the outcome of the allegations, I believe Greg will prevail on a personal level. What will suffer shall be the mission and those in most need of CAI and GM’s benevolence and compassion. We in the west frequently lament the actions of others in places on the other side of the world. Long ago I believe Greg realized, at least on some level, the way to a better understanding and acceptance of diverse cultures was through education. Does it really matter if there’s 135 schools, or 141 schools? I think not. I, for one, stand by Greg and his mission and do so proudly and unequivocally .

    • danielglick.net says:

      Steve, thanks for adding an important new voice to the chorus. I have been particularly troubled by the “flies around on private jets” allegation, because it is a code in this country for excess and profligacy. Again, there is another perspective, and thanks for sharing yours.

    • Tory Hunter says:

      WOW – I wish this post had received more “sunlight”- like on the 60 Minutes site also!!! Yes – people equate “private jet” with “rock star” lifestyle… I almost spit my coffee out my nose when I heard that phrase applied to Greg (I am familiar with the family – from before the NYT Bestseller days:) Can’t believe how fast those virtual dots got connected – from nowhere!!! Greg WILL prevail – one way or another. Just a shame this had to be done this way – maximum damage – you are truly an “artist”, Mr. Krakauer…

  11. Mayme says:

    Thanks a bunch for trying to describe the terminlogy to the newcomers!

  12. Emily says:

    I am enjoying reading your perspective. The question “why now” is something I’ve wondered also—both to Krakauer and to “60 minutes.” It appears they couldn’t wait to get Mortenson’s side of the story, but why the rush to air/publish without solid attempts at getting the other side?

  13. BT says:

    I’ve only barely followed this controversy. After hearing that there were some questions about Mr. Mortensen’s book, I said, “Phew. Glad I didn’t read that one, either.” I will admit to being somewhat jaded after having read several memoirs that turned out to be just a bit more than false and misleading. [“A Million Little Pieces,” James Frey; “Running with Scissors,” Augusten Burroughs; “The Boy and His Dog are Sleeping,” Nasdijj.] I decided I would no longer read memoirs. Unfortunately, for a non-fiction book club I am a member of, our current book is “Breaking Night,” by Liz Murray, and I cannot help but think that much of what I am reading is more fiction than fact. That is how I now approach memoirs and believe that for a book to sell, in this genre, the truth must be embellished.

  14. Thank you!
    Anyone working for good in a war-torn, god-forsaken place like Afghanistan should be applauded. (Although you’re right GM is probably not the right person to run the CAI if it’s grown to a $20-million-a-year charity).

    p.s. Do you have a Facebook page?

  15. Joey says:

    Extremely good put up, I will be browsing back again usually to find posts.

  16. Pingback: Advice for Donors to Greg Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute « The Philanthropic Family

  17. yosemite_steve says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful articles! I agree this whole affair is deeply tragic. Whatever his faults GM seems to have worked selflessly for years and perhaps done more than any other individual to bridge the gap between the Islamic world and ordinary people in the US, who for the most part know less than nothing about Islam, the Near East and south Asia, except for “they bombed us”. The meme “he flys around in private airplanes” expresses the heart of the harm, completely implying that he has used CAI funds to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous. I don’t know him but i know that nobody travels to rural pakistan areas off the roads for luxury or pleasure trips and there ain’t any private planes going to the villages miles from the nearest road.

    I traveled extensively, mostly in Buddhist and Hindu Asia but the one day and night i spent in Lahore in west Pakistan was about the only time i felt completely alien and scared, and that was back in the ’70s. I carried on to Tehran and lived there for 10 months and tho not as scary as Pakistan, and even after i learned a bit a farsi it was a place i still don’t understand much at all, and i lived in Asia for about 10 years.

    Bottom line, what the world needs as much as anything right now is people-to-people understanding between the Islamic world and the West. Why oh why did they shoot our most valuable ambassador who was capable of sending only goodwill instead of bullets and bombs? The hatchet job on GM and CAI is a deep wrong. They burned the whole forest because some of the trees were damaged!

  18. yosemite_steve says:

    Another thing that really bugs me is that most of the negative commenters have gotten the math very wrong. The detractors did no favors in how they described it imo, and Daniel you cite the correct ratio, ie cost of fund raising vs amount raised. But many have failed to look closely enough and cite 59% being spent on fund-raising and outreach vs 41% on the schools. Those amounts were NOT pct of income, they were pct of *expenses* in 2009. Again as Daniel points out, most of the donations for that year were banked into CAI’s endowment fund and the cost of outreach was nowhere near 59% of the donations! This is a very key metric for NP fund raising expenses that so many complainers have gotten all wrong — across many articles i see so many comments complaining that “only 41% of donationed funds are being spent on the schools”. Again, that is totally incorrect, bad math. They are looking at the wrong numbers to get the important metric of cost of organizational overhead as a pct of donations going to the organization’s mission. This is a very important point!

    OTOH Greg responded stating that he gave $100k to CAI, but even at .50 a copy royalties, and ‘up to $30k’ in speaking fees, these figures suggest that GM may have finally gotten well rewarded with up to $2M in personal income. I suspect that the income numbers are misleading – if his total personal income was much smaller imo he should give a figure to make that totally clear.

    • Tory Hunter says:

      (I am not sure, but I think he split that amount in half with the co-author, David Oliver Relin, down the middle. BTW, does no one think it odd that Relin has been silent during this entire controversy?) Strange…

  19. If you’re interested… these are the thoughts of another distant American soul who has lived and worked in South Asia for the past three decades. From my perch/asana here in Kathmandu, where a variety of cultures and countries also meet, Mortenson’s story opens up a dizzying array of revealing and disturbing crevices in which to explore our Western hopes and aspirations amid the complex, demanding world of international community development work.


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