“As New Yorkers, the majestic mountains we scale are wrapped in curtain wall & have elevators” – Amaury

The non-fiction, Three Cups of Tea authored by Greg Mortenson and David O. Relin chronicles the journey of a Minnesota man as he accidently wonders into the role of a hero. Greg’s failed attempt to reach the summit of the Himalayan K2 Mountain exposes him to the immense lack of education hidden within Pakistan, motivating him to become proactive. His newly discovered fervor leads to the construction of dozens of schools for women and valuable lessons about the social complexities surrounding them. Greg’s adventure is split into three phases; Self discovery, Humanitarian and Political Activist.

Our American liaison in the Middle East reassesses his life after his descent from K2. At this point he was in a long distance relationship, broke and disheartened but fortunately these circumstances were overshadowed by the despair of others. His empathy for the poverty stricken village of Korphe allowed him to put things into perspective. As an avid climber he never took the time to truly understand the history and culture of the porters that lead Western teams up their glacial paths. Now that he was aware of their needs he put his career and relationships to the side in an attempt to make their lives better.

 Mortenson sets out to fulfill his promise of returning and building a school as soon as he could. Initially, his lack of experience fund raising and with local governments in Pakistan leads to some very painful mistakes; luckily a wise group of individuals continuously save him from his eagerness. After only a few years he is able to build several schools in the most undesirable areas as well as fruitful relationships throughout the region. His vision of educating and supplying those in need moves forward a brick at a time because of their dedication and openness with each other. 

Besides surviving his own introverted personality, Mortenson endures strong objections from extremist in Central Asia and The United States. These tensions pepper several parts of the book and give readers a peek of the philosophical conflicts on both sides. It also allows our writers to point out the faults in the strategies being implemented by Washington, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greg believes the war on terrorism can be won in a class room. His point is supported by the construction of Madrassas Wahhabi’s (schools used by radicals to indoctrinate the uneducated youths with extreme ideals).

Three Cups of Tea is an averagely written book with a great story underlying it. I’m not in favor of the third person perspective and its two writers tend to over simplify various beliefs but the story gives you hope. Our infidel is fueled by a dedication to having a positive impact and manages “to do something” when most people would have even bother. I believe this book could lead a person into finding out more about the issues at hand or making a positive contribution which could be worth more than any goat in a village.    

-AG-