From the book jacket: 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 timeGreg
Mortenson's one-man mission to counteract extremism by building schools,
especially for girls, throughout the breeding ground of the Taliban.
Comment: 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.
Once he'd completed his promise, he didn't just go home feeling good about himself, he kept going and, despite surviving kidnappings, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, repeated death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children, his Central Asia Institute has built 55 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan bringing educational opportunities to children who previously had none, at a fraction of the cost it would take the local governments to build similar schools - assuming they had the funds and inclination to build them in the first place.
The next time I'm feeling low I'm going to pick up Three Cups of Tea, to remind myself what can be achieved if one has the tenacity to keep bouncing back despite the odds!
This review was originally published in March 2006, and has been updated for the January 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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