December 20, 2014

‘Three Cups of Tea’ co-author Reli commits suicide

By Sajad - Tue Dec 04 2012, 10:12 am

David Oliver Relin, co-author of the best-selling book ‘‘Three Cups of Tea,’’ said in legal filings about a year before his recent suicide that his career suffered from allegations of lies in the story of a humanitarian who built schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He died in Corbett, Ore., near Portland, on Nov. 14. A medical examiner told the AP that Relin, 49, died of a blunt force head injury, but did not provide other details.

Relin wrote “Three Cups of Tea” as a memoir with mountain climber-turned-humanitarian Greg Mortenson, a nonprofit director who started building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The book, which has sold about 4 million copies since being published in 2006, describes how Greg Mortenson, the other co-author, resolved to build schools for Pakistani villagers who nursed him to health after a failed mountaineering expedition.

But the book’s accuracy was undermined last year when both 60 Minutes and author Jon Krakauer in an e-book titled Three Cups of Deceit reported that it contained numerous fabrications. They also questioned the charity’s finances.

The report also raised serious issues about the disposition and management of the millions of dollars Mortenson had raised for his charity, the Central Asia Institute. “Mortenson has lied about the noble deeds he has done, the risks he has taken, the people he has met, the number of schools he has built,” Krakauer wrote. ” ‘Three Cups of Tea’ has much in common with ‘A Million Little Pieces,’ the infamous autobiography by James Frey that was exposed as a sham.”

Mortenson denied intentional wrongdoing, although he acknowledged that some of the events in Three Cups of Tea, which sold more than 4 million copies, were changed and compressed for the sake of the story. Relin did not publicly respond to criticism of the book.

Relin, who was born in Minnesota, had a long career as a journalist before co-writing the book. He won more than 40 national magazine awards and served as a contributing editor to Parade and Skiing Magazine.

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