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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Posted by Irish in Uncategorized3 Comments

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is the story of how one man overcame some great obsticales in order to make a real difference in the world. In the 90s Mortenson went on an expedition to climb K2. His bid for the summit failed and on the way down from the mountain he got separated from his party and wound up in the small village of Korphe. This village was not used to seeing outsiders because it is so remote. Yet they welcomed Mortenson in with open arms. After spending a night there and learning about this place Mortenson made a rash promise that he would build them a school. For while he was there he saw that the children would attend classes in the open air a few days a week because they shared a teacher with another village.

Many people make rash promises in the heat of the moment and then when they put time and distance between them and the event they forget about the promise. Mortenson thought about doing that. On his flight home he knew that it would be an easy thing to not honor it. After all, when would he be back in Pakistan again? However, Mortenson is one of those good people who try to honor promises when he makes them. And while it took a ton of sacrifice and years of struggle he managed to raise enough funds to build the school. He soon found though that raising the money was the least of his problems.

Yet despite all the obstacles Mortenson never gave up and along the way he met many people from other villages and started to build more schools throughout the remote region of Pakistan. With the help of a benefactor and through donations he started the Central Asia Institute (CAI) which is dedicated to bringing education, especially education to girls, to those areas that the government forgot about. At the time of the book printing the CAI was responsible for building well over 50 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Mortsenson has traveled deep into the heart of devote Muslim areas and even after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan started he never gave up on his mission. In fact the events of 9/11 only made him more dedicated to the cause. For in his belief the best way to end terrorism was to educate the children. To give them a reason to live, to give them hope for a better future and not waste time on hate. Three Cups of Tea is one of those remarkable stories that can invoke real and powerful feelings from the reader. There were moments when it brought tears to my eyes and others that made me laugh.

Mortenson is a man to be admired. As is his wife and children who put up with his frequent (and often extended) trips to the remotest regions in Central Asia. I know that I would not be able to live the life that she does. To me, his dedication to building the schools is also a personality flaw as that is his first priority…even over his wife and children. However, his story is an inspiring one. Its also one that he doesn’t think is so special, which is probably why it was written by David Oliver Relin. Mortenson saw a need and did what he could to help. To him the sacrifices that he made early on were worth it because of the end result. The world definitely needs more people like Greg Mortenson in it.

My one probably with the book was that it was a little choppy at times. The story line would sometimes jump back and forth and there was no smooth transition when that occurred. I’ve read other memoirs in which the narrator (for lack of better word) would also jump around. But with the way that the story was told it seemed natural, like you were having a conversation with the author. Since this book was written by a third party and not the actual doer it lost that conversational feel. Overall though this was a book that I really enjoyed and is something that I would recommend to others.

In Short: An excellent story about an ordinary man doing extraordinary things. Greg Mortenson is living proof that one person can make a difference in the world. Three Cups of Tea is an inspirational and emotional read. One that I highly recommend.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Buy this book from Barnes & Noble or Amazon

Next Up: The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

3 Responses to “Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin”

  1. Charley

    I keep hearing more and more good things about this book. I’ll have to pick it up. Thanks for your review.