Thursday, January 1, 2009

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

Book: Three Cups of Tea
Authors: Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
ISBN:978-0-14-303825 (paperback)

Running Gal rating (on 5 stars): 5 stars

This book took my breath away as it brilliantly accounted of one man, against all odds, who is creating positive change in a land so many of us Americans know so little about - the Middle East. It is a fresh perspective on a culture that, from the foundation up, is so different then us, yet is fundamentally the same as we all share humanity in common.

Relationships are elevated to such a high status which is in such a sharp contrast to our fast paced society. There, business is done over a cup of tea. The first cup shared you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join their family, and for their family they are prepared to do anything - even die.

This highly riveting account tells the story of a man whose failed attempt at climbing K2 in Pakistan led him into a village in the Karakoram mountains that sparked a passion in him to return to their village with funds and supplies to build them a school. At elevations of 17,000 feet, these children endure harsh outdoor conditions, no chance of an education or they can go to the Madrassas which usually are terrorist training schools. Over the next decade Mortenson built over 55 schools - in the forbidden terrain that gave birth to the Taliban, reaching thousands and thousands of children with hope. And he is still raising funds, building schools, and building bridges between our cultures.

He has done more for the cause of peace in this land that is training their children to be terrorists than any bomb of ours can do as he offers children that only had terrorist schools as their option a different choice, a different way. "...working over there I've learned a few things. I've learned that terror doesn't happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren't being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death" says Mortenson.

Said one of Mortensen's Pakistani friends and Brigadier General Bashir Baz, "As a military man, I know you can never fight and win against someone who can shoot at you once and then run off and hide while you have to remain eternally on guard. You have to attack the source of your enemy's strength. In America's case, that's not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance. The only way to defeat it is to build relationship with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business. Otherwise the fight will go on forever."

He fought with his editors who wanted the subtitle of the book to be "One Man's Mission to Fight Terroism and Build Nations...One School at a Time" vs what he insisted on, "One Man's Mission to promote Peace...One School at A Time". That shows the heart of this man, risking his life as he devotes his to one of bridging a culture gap. Check out the website to order this book to help support this cause that the New York Times wrote of in July, 2008 "It takes a School, Not Missles".

Books instead of bombs.

Quite a concept for peace.

Three Cups of Tea is one of the most remarkable adventure stories of our time. Greg Mortenson’s dangerous and difficult quest to build schools in the wildest parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan is not only a thrilling read, it’s proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, really can change the world .’ -Tom Brokaw


John said...

I just got the book and can't wait to read it!

MooBee Mama said...

I have been wanting to read this book. Thanks for the reminder my friend!