Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
Date Finished: Nov. 22, 2011
Reading List: Fall 2011
Got it: Cheap at a book sale!
Quick thoughts upon finishing: You know, for all the controversy surrounding Three Cups of Tea, I really liked this book. Mortenson’s story was more than inspirational — his desire to do good, unattached from any religious or financial motivation, is something I want to identify with. But beyond Mortenson’s story, I think the strongest part of the book is his description of the impoverished villages of Pakistan and Afghanistan and the people who live there. I learned a lot from reading this book; I may not have necessarily trusted every conclusion (Relin, the journalist-author, is admittedly biased in Mortenson’s favor) — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t lessons to be learned. Cultural, historical lessons. The lesson that Islam is not inherently bad and painting the entire region with one brushstroke is a fatal, terrible mistake. Mortenson and the CAI isn’t perfect, and I doubt he is single-handedly solving the problem of radical Islam by building schools for girls. But he’s at least trying. And whether parts of his back story was fabricated or not, Mortenson stayed in Pakistan when he heard about 9/11. That’s called bravery, and I respect him for that.