Monday, November 3, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

On the eve of a critical presidential election, and at a trying time in our country's history, I feel Greg Mortenson's Three Cups of Tea is a must-read. Let me tell you why:

Greg Mortenson has been referred to as a modern-day Indiana Jones. This book is the fascinating story of his personal mission to build schools in remote villages in Pakistan. Mortenson is a mountaineer who found his way into a poor village in the Karakoram mountains after a failed (and nearly fatal) attempt to climb K-2. The inhabitants of the village welcomed and cared for him, and in response to their kindness he promised to return and build a school.

Three Cups of Tea is the story of how he fulfilled his promise. How someone who knew nothing about fund raising and even less about moving goods through the many levels of government in Pakistan succeeds becomes a compelling story. Over a decade, he built not only the school he promised, but fifty-five other schools in forbidding mountain terrain bordering Afghanistan. The narrative reads almost like a novel, thanks to the skills of journalist David Oliver Relin. The story is factual and heroic. A number of photographs accompany the text, showing schools, students and villagers. Here in the United States, for me at least, Pakistan is far away and vaguely threatening. Three Cups of Tea made the people of this country come alive. Their struggles are personal now, rather than news stories I’ve skipped over to read the latest celebrity gossip.

The book should be required reading for whichever presidential candidate next occupies the White House. In some ways, the issues raised by Three Cups of Tea remind me of the ending of the film “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Once the military objective was gained, nothing further happened to help the people. Three Cups of Tea offers insight into the needs of the ordinary citizens of Pakistan, and by extension, citizens of any country overrun by war and corruption. I suggest you visit for more information.


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