Last weekend, 60 Minutes cast serious doubts on portions of Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson's uplifting memoir of walking around Afghanistan and Pakistan and building schools. Mortenson has found a friendlier news outlet to which to proclaim his innocence.
Mortenson (pictured, collaborating with U.S. imperialist) didn't talk to 60 Minutes, but now he has talked to Outside Magazine. In the interview, Mortenson says, essentially, that he's not really a pro writer, so some of the details may have eluded him.
That's where some of the issues are. It's really complicated, but I'm not a journalist. I don't take a lot of notes. [Co-author David Oliver Relin] and I collaborated. He did nearly all the writing, and along with hundreds of interviews of those involved in the story, I helped him piece together the whole timeline, and from that we started creating the narrative arc and everything...
What happens then is, when you re-create the scenes, you have my recollections, the different memories of those involved, you have his writing, and sometimes things come out different. In order to be convenient, there were some omissions. If we included everything I did from 1993 to 2003 it would take three books to write it. So there were some omissions and compressions, and ... I don't know, what that's called?
It's called "made-up things." Look, fine, the guy's not a professional writer, he kind of glossed over some details, maybe got some things wrong, maybe even fabricated something for the sake of appearances. He probably never imagined his book would do so well! It's not the greatest literary crime ever. It's not James Frey-level deception. The publisher, Viking, says it's going to "review" the book. "We've reviewed it, and dang, we sure did make a lot of money off that book," is what we imagine the rough draft of this review will say. This is a great scoop for 60 Minutes and all. But in the grand scheme of publishing, the fallout is going to be minimal.
It's too bad the Pentagon took all that stuff literally.