Journalist David Oliver Relin, who is perhaps best known for co-writing the best-selling book Three Cups of Tea with Greg Mortenson, has died. The New York Times reports Relin committed suicide on November 15 in Multnomah County, Oregon. Relin’s family said he had been battling depression. No other details on his death were released. Relin was 49.
Relin’s career focused on humanitarian issues. His work led to his pairing with Mortenson to write about why Mortenson began building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Three Cups of Tea was released in 2006 to huge success; over 4 million copies of the book were sold. In 2011 the book came under fire after 60 Minutes and author Jon Krakauer questioned key parts. Mortenson was accused of fabricating parts of his story, like being captured by the Taliban, as well as mismanaging money belonging to Central Asia Institute (CAI), the organization he founded to help build and fund schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mortenson was also accused of lying about how many schools CAI has built and supported. Krakauer discussed his allegations in the e-book Three Cups of Deceit - How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way.
Relin never commented on the accusations, but Mortenson maintained his innocence."I stand by the information conveyed in my book, and by the value of CAI's work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students,” he said, adding, "The time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993…”
A lawsuit claiming Relin and Mortenson defrauded readers was dismissed earlier this year. The New York Times says Relin “suffered emotionally and financially” because of the allegations.
Relin is survived by his wife, mother, stepfather and two sisters.
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