Summary and book reviews of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

Three Cups of Tea

One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

By David O. Relin, Greg Mortenson

Three Cups of Tea
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2006,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2007,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

In April 2011, the CBS documentary "60 Minutes" called into question Greg Mortenson's work. The program alleged inaccuracies in Three Cups of Tea and its sequel, Stones into Schools as well as financial improprieties in the operation of Mortenson's Central Asia Institute. Questions were also raised about Mortenson's claim that he got lost near K2 and ended up in Korphe; that he was captured by the Taliban in 1996; the number of schools the CAI claimed to have built and whether CAI funds had been used appropriately for Mortenson's book tours. View the broadcast. Jon Krakauer, who had supported the CAI to the tune of $75,000, also questioned Mortenson's accounts and released his allegations in a lengthy article titled Three Cups of Deceit

From the Book Jacket
The inspiring account of one man's campaign to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti-American reaches of Asia

In 1993 Greg Mortenson was the exhausted survivor of a failed attempt to ascend K2, an American climbing bum wandering emaciated and lost through Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya. After he was taken in and nursed back to health by the people of an impoverished Pakistani village, Mortenson promised to return one day and build them a school. From that rash, earnest promise grew one of the most incredible humanitarian campaigns of our time—Greg Mortenson's one-man mission to counteract extremism by building schools, especially for girls, throughout the breeding ground of the Taliban.

Award-winning journalist David Oliver Relin has collaborated on this spellbinding account of Mortenson's incredible accomplishments in a region where Americans are often feared and hated. In pursuit of his goal, Mortenson has survived kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, repeated death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children. But his success speaks for itself. At last count, his Central Asia Institute had built fifty-five schools. Three Cups of Tea is at once an unforgettable adventure and the inspiring true story of how one man really is changing the world—one school at a time.

Contents

Introduction: In Mr. Mortenson's Orbit
Chapter 1: Failure
Chapter 2: The Wrong Side of the River
Chapter 3: "Progress and Perfection"
Chapter 4: Self-Storage
Chapter 5: 580 Letters, One Check
Chapter 6: Rawalpindi's Rooftops at Dusk
Chapter 7: Hard Way Home
Chapter 8: Beaten by the Braldu
Chapter 9: The People Have Spoken
Chapter 10: Building Bridges
Chapter 11: Six Days
Chapter 12: Haji Ali's Lesson
Chapter 13: "A Smile Should Be More Than a Memory"
Chapter 14: Equilibrium
Chapter 15: Mortenson in Motion
Chapter 16: Red Velvet Box
Chapter 17: Cherry Trees in the Sand
Chapter 18: Shrouded Figure
Chapter 19: A Village Called New York
Chapter 20: Tea with the Taliban
Chapter 21: Rumsfeld's Shoes
Chapter 22: "The Enemy Is Ignorance"
Chapter 23: Stones into Schools
Acknowledgments



 

Introduction
In Mr. Mortenson's Orbit

The little red light had been flashing for five minutes before...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

Three Cups of Tea is the true story of one of the most extraordinary humanitarian missions of our time. In 1993, a young American mountain climber named Greg Mortenson stumbles into a tiny village high in Pakistan's beautiful and desperately poor Karakoram Himalaya region. Sick, exhausted, and depressed after a failing to scale the summit of K2, Mortenson regains his strength and his will to live thanks to the generosity of the people of the village of Korphe. Before he leaves, Mortenson makes a vow that will profoundly change both the villagers' lives and his own—he will return and build them a school.

The book traces how Mortenson kept this promise (and many more) in the high country of Pakistan and...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Three Cups of Tea is a truly inspiring story and also a very readable action-adventure! Many climbers have passed through the same areas of Pakistan as Mortenson, and made the same promises to the local people - to help them in some way or another; but the difference between Greg and so many others is that he followed through. He didn't set out to be a hero, he didn't even set out to 'make a difference' - he just set out to fulfill a promise that would have been so easy to forget. Despite the many obstacles in his way he raised the money and returned to Pakistan, but it took a further two-years, more money and many road-blocks, to build that first school.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (587 words).

Media Reviews
Washington Times - Ann Geracimos

The story of how this happened is a cliffhanger as well as an first-hand introduction to the people and places of a region little understood by most Americans. The subtitle, "One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations . . . One School at a Time," underscores the motivation behind his work.

He attributes his inspiration to a series of accidental encounters with strangers who cared for him after failing in his original mission to lay his sister's necklace on the K2 summit. Clearly, he is a man apart. But the trained nurse, mountaineer, natural linguist and diplomat is also a thoroughly grounded one. The challenges and how he faced them are ready-made for the movies or TV.

Kirkus Reviews

Answering by delivering what his country will not, Mortenson is "fighting the war on terror the way I think it should be conducted," Relin writes. This inspiring, adventure-filled book makes that case admirably.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Captivating and suspenseful, with engrossing accounts of both hostilities and unlikely friendships, this book will win many readers' hearts.

Author Blurb Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia
Three Cups of Tea is beautifully written. It is also a critically important book at this time in history. The governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan are both failing their students on a massive scale. The work Mortenson is doing, providing the poorest students with a balanced education, is making them much more difficult for the extremist madrassas to recruit.

Author Blurb Tom Brokaw
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.

Author Blurb U.S. representative Mary Bono (R-Calif.)
Greg Mortenson represents the best of America. He's my hero. And after you read Three Cups of Tea, he'll be your hero, too.

Reader Reviews
bob

All lies
First of all, Pakistan is not one of the most dangerous places in the world, if you go to Detroit in Michigan, it is 10 times more dangerous than the entire country of Pakistan (I would know because my family is from there and I have visited many ...   Read More

Guje

hero
Perhaps the best non-fiction book I have read recently is Three cup of tea. It is a beautifully written. Same time it is also a critically important and truly remarkable tale of an inspiring account of how one man former mountaineer and military ...   Read More

college mom

thank you Greg
i found this story very inspiring. It goes to show that there are really some people in this world that really do make a difference. I read this book as a requirement for college and I really enjoyed it. It has really inspired me to stand up and make...   Read More

highsCOOLer

123 terrible
First thing is first, if you have bought this book burn it or terminate it from your presence. second, this is the worst book ever, I stopped reading after the first chapter. the book described every detail other than building the schools, and... ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The book's title comes from the advice given to Mortenson, over cups of scalding butter tea, by the chief of the village where the first school was built:

"The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything, even die. Doctor Greg, you must make time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated, but we are not stupid. We have survived here for a long time."

As Mortenson says, "that day Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I've ever learned. We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. Our leaders thought their 'shock and awe' ...

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