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Three Cups of Tea [Paperback]

Greg Mortenson , David Oliver Relin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 30 2007

The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban’s backyard

Anyone who despairs of the individual’s power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan’s treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools—especially for girls—that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson’s quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.

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Three Cups of Tea + Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Education in Afghanistan and Pakistan
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. Coauthor Relin recounts Mortenson's efforts in fascinating detail, presenting compelling portraits of the village elders, con artists, philanthropists, mujahideen, Taliban officials, ambitious school girls and upright Muslims Mortenson met along the way. As the book moves into the post-9/11 world, Mortenson and Relin argue that the United States must fight Islamic extremism in the region through collaborative efforts to alleviate poverty and improve access to education, especially for girls. Captivating and suspenseful, with engrossing accounts of both hostilities and unlikely friendships, this book will win many readers' hearts. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

On a 1993 expedition to climb K2 in honor of his sister Christa, who had died of epilepsy at 23, Mortenson stumbled upon a remote mountain village in Pakistan. Out of gratitude for the villagers' assistance when he was lost and near death, he vowed to build a school for the children who were scratching lessons in the dirt. Raised by his missionary parents in Tanzania, Mortenson was used to dealing with exotic cultures and developing nations. Still, he faced daunting challenges of raising funds, death threats from enraged mullahs, separation from his family, and a kidnapping to eventually build 55 schools in Taliban territory. Award-winning journalist Relin recounts the slow and arduous task Mortenson set for himself, a one-man mission aimed particularly at bringing education to young girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Readers interested in a fresh perspective on the cultures and development efforts of Central Asia will love this incredible story of a humanitarian endeavor. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In Pakistan's Karakoram, bristling across an area barely one hundred miles wide, more than sixty of the world's tallest mountains lord their severe alpine beauty over a witnessless high-altitude wilderness. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
235 of 240 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Do you like to read heroic tales of overcoming daunting odds to achieve great things? Do you believe that we are past the age of heroes? If you answered yes to either question, you need to read Three Cups of Tea immediately!

Here's the overview of this book. Greg Mortenson was a determined mountain climber on his way back from challenging K2, one of the world's highest and most dangerous peaks in the Himalayas, when he lost his way. He was exhausted from just having helped in the all-but-impossible rescue of one of his fellow climbers. As a result of the second of his mistakes in leaving the so-called trail, Mortenson found himself needing help in a Balti village in Pakistan that he had never heard of, Korphe. The villagers nursed him back to health, and Mortenson began listening to their grievances against the Pakistan government which supported an on-going conflict with India over Kashmir, but did not provide a school for their children. The grateful Mortenson promised to build them a school.

Many people make such promises, but few fulfill them. Mortenson headed back to California and raised the $12,000 he estimated it would take to build the school. With the money in hand, he flew back to Pakistan and started buying supplies. Arriving at the village, his new Balti friends reminded him that there was no bridge to transport the supplies to the village. Mortenson headed back to raise the money for the bridge.

After many more trials, the school was built and a teacher installed. Mortenson had found his life work. He wanted to provide schools for all of the Pakistani children who didn't get an education, especially the girls, who were more likely to stay in their villages and improve living conditions. Everything was difficult. Pakistanis didn't trust him.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The enemy is ignorance" July 25 2006
By Friederike Knabe TOP 100 REVIEWER
These words, spoken by Pakistani Brigadier General Bashir, symbolize an underlying thread in this extraordinary story. The fight against ignorance resulting from illiteracy and complete lack of economic resources is the primary theme of award-winning Journalist David Oliver Relin's account of a man with a mission: Greg Mortenson. Ignorance of local culture and customs, racial and religious prejudice are intimately linked to the failures in achieving lasting peace in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Education of the young, and in particular girls, are offered as an essential tool against ignorance. Building schools in remote and isolated regions of Pakistan has been Mortenson's passion for 13 years. Relin traces Mortenson's travels and encounters for a period of two years, interviewing many friends - and a few sceptics - along the way and recording months of discussions with Mortenson himself. The result is an action-packed adventure story with a deep moral and emotional centre. It depicts ten years in the life of a man who turned failure into strength, growing into a great humanitarian and dedicated fighter for the rights of tens of thousands forgotten poor in the tribal areas of this powder keg region of Central Asia.

Overcoming ignorance has also been a leitmotiv for Greg himself. After abandoning his climb to the top of K2, the second largest mountain in the world, he had lost his guide and then his way on the descent. Close to exhaustion, he reached Korphe, a small village high up in the Karakoram range of the Himalayas. As the villagers nurtured him back to strength he became increasingly aware of the extreme poverty of the region and the dire conditions of the children's school. The village could not afford a school building and a teacher for only three days a week at $1 a day.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Pen is Mightier than the Sword Jan. 22 2008
Taken to heart this book can have as profound an influence on the war on terrorism as Uncle Tom's Cabin did on the institution of slavery. This book can be celebrated on many levels. First, it's a great read if for no other reason its worth buying for that reason alone. But this story has other merits. It is these other merits that will push it into the history books as a impetus for peace.
Greg Mortenson's work in Pakistan and Afghanistan building schools for the education of both girls and boys combats lives of poverty and the sewing of the seeds of terrorism. Education provides a countries' children with the tools to improve their lives more than just financially. Balanced education and the ability to think elevates them beyond superstition and propaganda. The extremists in the middle east who scream for jihad run the madrassas. They offer education as well but for boys only and these students are instilled with a hatred of the west and a call to holy war. Greg Mortenson gives us a way that can make peace. Within the boundaries of Pakistan and Afghanistan his work is respected far more than anything done by the US or it's allies.
The pages in Three Cups of Tea also bring to life this foreign land allowing a stranger a glimpse into this other world that impacts our own so strongly. In finishing this book this reader has come away with a greater understanding of the hearts of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan far beyond what I have ever gleaned from the news or political commentary.
This book is not a call to arms but a call to pencils. After all the pen is mightier than the sword and with determination and support of a hero like Greg Mortenson maybe peace is possible.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Helping others to learn
This book was very moving and makes a person want to reach out and help others themselves.
Published 1 month ago by Helen Hamilton
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Cups of Questions
I first read this book a few years ago. After I finished it I thought the author, Greg Mortenson, was a true humanitarian hero. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tyler Dixon
4.0 out of 5 stars High Postage
The book held me captive with the achievement of the author, the risks he took and the patience of his wife through all his travels and tribulations in Northern Pakistan, well... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Warren Abbott
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Cups of Tea
It doesn't read as a novel and I didn't know that. I found it too overwhelming and it jumps back and forth. I didn't even finish it.
Published 12 months ago by Karla Svoboda
2.0 out of 5 stars Dull
The story itself is a good one, but the way it is written is dull and drags the story down. I was reading it for a book club and had to skip large blocks of text just to stay awake... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Prairie Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant work done by a humble man
This book is an amazing eye opener. I hope everyone gets a chance to read this book. It changes the way you look at the problems of the world. Read more
Published on July 23 2012 by Stones to peace
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This is one of those rare books that changed my view of the world for the better. Get this book, I think it is a must-read for everyone.
Published on Jan. 1 2012 by Jennifer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Cups of Suspicion
Why did I buy this book? Books such as Kite Runner and Land of a Thousand Splendid Suns provide inspiration and insight from a region that is so poor in material wealth. Read more
Published on Dec 20 2011 by Mark Eversfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Compassion in Action!
Wow! It took me a while to pick up this book, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. I was impressed with Greg's compassion, courage, work ethic and kindness. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2011 by Karen
5.0 out of 5 stars Three Cups of Tea
Three Cups Of Tea

Excellent Book! Greg Mortenson has shown us that we can make a difference in people's life. Read more
Published on April 15 2011 by Aminata Touré
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