Wednesday, March 30, 2011

22: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson and David Relin is the story of an American man who wanted to give back to the Pakistan community who helped him heal after an unsuccessful summit of K2, and, in thanks to them for their kindness, he offered to come back and build a school. The book focuses on his work now, not as much on the mountain climbing part, and focuses a lot on the operations in his business now.

The book’s title comes from the Baltinese saying, "The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a strange, the second time, you are an honored guest. The third time you become family." The traditions of the Balti were amazing and the snippet about the old man reading the Koran, but turned out he could not read had me thinking for days about how comforting our religions can be to us. 

However, I found this book hard to read. It was confusing and not well-written, in my opinion (a quick look at Amazon’s almost perfect reviews of this book tells me I am in the minority here). I wanted to know more about the schools, the students, the curriculum, and not as much on the operations part. I didn’t like how the book ended, I feel like he was being hateful to people who initially kind of backed away from financing his project. 

I’ll admit. I had pangs of thoughts while reading this book where I thought, “he should be helping AMERICANS. Not foreigners set against us.” But. There is truth when he talks about how terror comes from not being educated, and how in helping educate these rural children, whose only options for education often come from the Taliban, I supported his project more.

I don’t know if I see this business (CIA) being operational once Mortenson steps down. He tends to run it all alone, and while its working right now, when he’s unable or unwilling to run it, I wonder if anyone will step in. I also have to wonder how his wife can stand this. He’s gone for 4-5 months at a time, and yet htye have two small children and live in Montana. She must be more understanding than I would be!

I give this book a solid 6/10, but I just didn’t love it. I found it hard to read, very detailed focused and way too over-written. It’s good, but I think it could have been a lot better.

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