Posted by: istop4books | April 10, 2009

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

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

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
They say God protects the innocent and the naive, and Greg Mortenson must have come under a higher authority’s grace to have come through the life odyssey that he stumbled into, with life and limb intact. Three Cups of Tea will never win a prize for excellence in writing, however it should be a must-read for all those who think they really should do something, but never get around to doing it.

Greg was a climber who got himself lost on a failed attempt at climbing K2 (lst of many saves as he should have died right there and then). He wanders into a small village where over a period of weeks he is nursed back to health and gets to know the villagers who were very kind to this American who knew very little more about remote village life in Pakistan than any other average Joe. As a nurse, Greg wanders around the village dispensing what little medicine he can from his small backpacking kit. While he’s teaching basic first aid to these rural, remote people, he winds up learning more lessons from them than he ever thought possible. Greg realizes that the kids in this village do their school work in an open field and practice their multiplication tables in the dirt, with a teacher who comes in from another village two to three days a week. In a show of emotion and gratitude, he tells one of the elders that he will come back to help them build a school. It’s the kind of thing that so many of us have said in passing, really meaning it at the time, and then finding 1001 reasons why such an undertaking would not be feasible. I’ll send books to the children’s ward at the hospital, I’ll knit blankets for the nursing home, or organize a bake sale for the boy’s club. Life – kids, schooling, careers all come between our good intentions and reality.

Greg Mortenson in a kind of dorky, goofy way, ploughed ahead, almost as though he’d never even considered the many perfectly reasonable excuses that most normal people (myself included) would have used. He took NO for an answer 500+ times, went without basic creature comforts and just like the Energizer Bunny, just kept on going. He became one of the people, unaffected, but with the determination of a stubborn mule to not allow any roadblocks to sidetrack him. He wound up not only building one school, but building many many schools over a period of 10 years. He created centers for women to gather and sew, he came to the conclusion that educating a girl through 5th grade was of utmost importance to keep the tradition of education going. He talked with village elders and was beloved by most.

Beyond what Greg was able to do, this book is a serious criticism to Bush’s war and Rumsfeld’s politics. A critisism to what guns and missiles accomplish and what education could have accomplished. It brings you face to face with Taliban, Mujahadeen, and little girls who want to become doctors and treat women who have never had medical treatment available to them. To kids who just want to learn to read and parents who are thrilled with the idea that their children will have an education.

One of my favorite quotes of the book: [Greg Mortenson addressing US Congress in Washington DC:]: “I’ve learned that terror doesn’t happen because some group of people somewhere like Pakistan or Afghanistan simply decide to hate us. It happens because children aren’t being offered a bright enough future that they have a reason to choose life over death.”

We need more Greg Mortensons in this world and fewer war mongers. This book will stay with me for many years to come and will be thought over and thought about for a long time.

If you are thinking of purchasing this book, please consider going to and getting it through the website as 7% of the proceeds will go directly to the Central Asia fund.

View all my reviews.


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