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“Three Cups of Tea” was conceived as a way to raise money for and tell the story of Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute, which he co-founded in 1996 to build schools in Central Asia.

Relin interviewed Mortenson, attended several of his lectures and read previous articles before preparing a book proposal that was bought by Penguin Group. After selling Penguin on the idea, Relin then conducted more interviews with Mortenson and others before writing the manuscript, Montalbano said.

In a 2008 interview with the University of Oregon literary journal Etude, Relin said he had objected to Mortenson being identified as co-author.

“That’s been the only negative thing about this whole adventure for me,” Relin said.

“It was published that way over my objections,” he added.

The publisher released a statement saying, “All of us at Penguin are saddened to hear of the death of David Oliver Relin. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.”

His second book, “Second Suns, Two Doctors and Their Amazing Quest to Restore Sight and Save Lives,” was scheduled to be published in June.

The lawsuit against Mortenson, Relin and Penguin was filed in May 2011 in Montana, where Mortenson lives and the Central Asia Institute is based.

Relin was not involved in a separate investigation by the Montana attorney general into how Mortenson ran the charity.

The investigation led to a settlement in April that called for Mortenson to reimburse the charity nearly $1 million, his removal from a position of financial oversight and an expansion of the board.

The probe and settlement did not deal with the content of “Three Cups of Tea” or Mortenson’s sequel, “Stones Into Schools,” which Relin did not write.

Relin was born in Rochester, N.Y. He is survived by his wife, two sisters, and his mother.


AP writer Matt Volz contributed to this report from Helena, Mont.