(To read all of our Lone Survivor posts, please click here. The most important post is "A List of the Mistakes and Differences Between Lone Survivor (Film), Lone Survivor (Book) and Reality" so read that first if you are new to the blog or this topic.)
We’re still kind of shocked no major media outlet has yet covered the inaccuracies (which we discussed in depth in this series) in Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson’s war memoir Lone Survivor, especially since Luttrell has a second book coming out next week and Peter Berg--the planned director for the upcoming film adaptation of Lone Survivor--has Battleship coming out this month.
But to make the disparity clear, we want to compare Lone Survivor to two other “debunked” memoirs, Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea and Luis Carlos Montalvan’s Until Tuesday. Looking at the tale of the tape, we hope some enterprising journalist will see they should investigate Marcus Luttrell’s Lone Survivor.
- Inflates the number of attackers from 30-40 insurgents (according to the official Navy Medal of Honor citation) to over 100. (Later, in interviews, this number increases to 200.)
- Misidentifies the target as a high ranking lieutenant of Osama Bin Laden (he wasn’t) and a member of al Qaeda (he wasn’t).
- Fails to explain the larger purpose of the marine-led mission, Operation Red Wings.
- Claims a vote took place during the mission that the father of Lt. Mike Murphy and other military officers doubt took place.
Three Cups of Tea
“- The story recounted in Three Cups of Tea about Mortenson getting lost and separated on the way down from K2, ending up in Korphe in Pakistan, and promising to build a school did not actually take place.
- The story recounted in Stones into Schools about Mortenson's capture by the Taliban did not occur. His purported kidnappers state he was a guest and the Taliban did not exist in the country at that time.
- Schools that the Central Asia Institute claims to have built either have not been built, have been built and abandoned, are currently used for other purposes such as grain storage, or have not been supported by CAI after they were built.”
- Claims Montalvan shot an attacker, but a fellow soldier claims that he did not.
- Exaggerates the injuries Montalvan sustained in the attack.
- Exaggerates why he was attacked, claiming it was an assassination attempt.
- Exaggerates a car bombing.
So while Mortenson fabricated more events than Luttrell, Montalvan certainly didn’t. Maybe Lone Survivor escaped scrutiny because it isn’t as popular. Let’s see.
- In Eric C’s opinion, the most popular war memoir released by a soldier since 9/11.
- The movie adaptation of Lone Survivor starts filming in September, starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Peter Berg.
- Marcus Luttrell has appeared on NBC's Today Show, every Fox News show, and has so many popular speaking engagements lined up, The Hollywood Reporter wrote an article about it.
- On a personal level, three different people recommended Lone Survivor to me. That’s three more times than any other war memoir.
- Michael found a copy of Lone Survivor in Afghanistan, ironically, in the Korengal valley.
Three Cups of Tea
- In Michael C’s opinion, until the debunking, the most popular book related to Pakistan in America.
- Reached number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and remained on the list for four years, only dropping once the media scrutiny got too intense.
- Mortensen was interviewed everywhere, like Parade magazine, USA Today, Outside magazine, and others.
- One of our high school teachers recommended the book to us. It also became required reading for soldiers deploying to Afghanistan.
- Michael also found a copy of this book in the Korengal library.
- Eric C hadn’t heard of it until it got debunked.
- Appeared on The New York Times bestseller list at #19.
- Waterman Entertainment bought the film rights, according to Variety.
- Doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, at least not one that shows up on Google.
So Lone Survivor is probably tied with Three Cups of Tea in popularity, but way ahead of Until Tuesday. Did the media cover the the discrepancies equally?
- A Marine Corps Gazette article by Ed Darack.
Three Cups of Tea
- An expose by Jon Krakauer and 60 Minutes.
- According to Google News, the Three Cups of Tea controversy had at least 485 news articles written about it...this week alone.
- The AP investigated Montalvan and the facts in Until Tuesday.
- ABC News, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The New York Times “At War”, and the Army Times all ran stories on the controversy.
Far and away, Three Cups of Tea got the most coverage, with Until Tuesday pulling in a strong second with Lone Survivor a distant, distant third. Maybe Lone Survivor has a really heartwarming message that causes journalists to avoid debunking it.
- Luttrell wishes he had killed the two goat herders and the fifteen year old boy.
- He hopes the military relaxes rules of engagement and that the media quits reporting unfavorably on the military.
Three Cups of Tea
- Mortensen promotes the idea that If we build schools in Afghanistan, we’ll create peace.
- Dogs help PTSD recovery.
- Montalvan has spoken out against the Iraq war, and advocated for increased veteran benefits.