David Oliver Relin

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David Oliver Relin
David Oliver Relin.jpg
BornDecember 12, 1962 (1962-12-12)
Rochester, New York
DiedNovember 15, 2012 (2012-11-16) (aged 49)
Cause of deathSuicide
Alma materVassar College '85
Occupationwriter, magazine editor
Known forco-author of Three Cups of Tea
Spouse(s)Dawn Relin
AwardsMichener Fellowship
Kiriyama Prize

David Oliver Relin (December 12, 1962 – November 15, 2012)[1] was an American journalist and the co-author of the New York Times bestselling book, Three Cups of Tea, published in 2006.[2] Relin co-wrote the book with Greg Mortenson.[1][2][3] The book gives Mortenson's account of his transition from registered nurse and mountain-climber to humanitarian committed to reducing poverty and promoting education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.[1][2][4]

In addition to Three Cups of Tea, Relin was a contributing editor for Parade and Skiing magazines. He won more than 40 national awards for his work as a writer and editor, including the Kiriyama Prize.[5]

Personal and professional life[edit]

Relin was born in Rochester, New York and graduated from Vassar College. After being awarded a Michener Fellowship to support a 1992 bicycle trip through Vietnam, he spent two years in Huế writing about the country opening itself up to the world economically and educationally. Relin traveled to and reported from numerous countries in East Asia.[6]

A significant portion of Relin's writing focused on social issues and on children. Along with being a contributing editor for Parade and Skiing magazines, Relin was a senior news editor for React, another newsmagazine publication of Parade. He also wrote investigative feature articles on school shootings, ecstasy abuse, and teenagers in prison for Teen People. His articles for Teen People enabled that publication to win the National Magazine Award for General Excellence.[6]

Before his death, Relin had completed work on a new book, about two doctors working to cure cataract-related blindness in the developing world.[1] Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives was published posthumously.[7]


According to his family, Relin had been diagnosed with depression.[1][2] His New York Times obituary reported that he suffered emotionally and financially when basic facts in Three Cups of Tea were called into question.[1] On November 15, 2012, at age 49, he committed suicide[1][2] by stepping in front of a freight train outside Portland, Oregon.[3][8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "David Oliver Relin, Adventurous Journalist, Dies at 49". New York Times. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e Kellogg, Carolyn, 'Three Cups of Tea' co-author David Oliver Relin dead of suicide, Los Angeles Times, 3 December 2012. Retrieved 4 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b Sieff, Kevin, Mortenson returns to Afghanistan, trying to move past his ‘Three Cups of Tea’ disgrace, Washington Post, 13 October 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
  4. ^ EBSCO Publishing web page for Three Cups of Tea Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  5. ^ BookBrowse.com biography for David Relin Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  6. ^ a b About Author David Oliver Relin, Lake Oswego Library e-newsletter article on David Relin. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  7. ^ Okie, Susan, Second Suns: Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives by David Oliver Relin, The Washington Post, 14 June 2013. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  8. ^ Daly, Michael, "The Death of Co-Author of ‘Three Cups of Tea’ is Ruled Suicide", Daily Beast, 6 December 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2013.