Book Review – Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Posted: January 1, 2010 in Book Reviews

Let me start this review by saying that I don’t like non-fiction. Given my life experience (I’ll go into that at another time), I like to escape from the real world, not read more about it. However, Three Cups of Tea is a great read about a real man doing real things in an all too real world. In an area of the world where ignorance seems to be the biggest fuel for radical terrorism, Greg Mortenson is trying to improve our world through education. And good for him I say!

Three Cups of Tea is about Greg Mortenson’s failed attempt to summit K2, and in the aftermath of that failure, finding himself in a small village in Pakistan recovering. After forging a incredibly strong bond with the village leader of Korphe, Mortenson vows to return to build a school. What struck me as a teacher was that the students at Korphe sat outside in the cold, in silence no less, working on the few lessons that were often left by traveling teachers. How I wish my students would sit in silence sometimes! The rest of the book chronicles Mortenson’s triumphs and failures as he forms the Central Asia Institute and then proceeds to combat terrorism through education by building 55 schools in the rugged wilds of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

While I’ve already mentioned I tend to stay away from non-fiction, this book was well worth the time spent reading it. I think it should be recommended or required reading for any high school or college student, because this book is all about how one person can make a world of difference in the world at large. A climber from the U.S. is positively impacting the world. It makes me think about what I can do…

As for the actual writing, it does get a bit dry sometimes, but the content is definitely worth fighting through that. I think this would have been a much better book if it was actually written by Mortenson himself. His other book, Stones into Schools, hopefully will be a better read because he himself writes it. We’ll see. It is on the 2010 must read list.

Another great thing about this book is that there are suggestions if you are inspired to do something to help impact the world yourself. The web site for the book is: Go there for reviews, info, and what you can do to help. The other site the books suggests checking out is This organization raises money to purchase curriculum and materials for the school children of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Three Cups of Tea was a great book even though at the times the writing wasn’t. I suggest you read it understanding what the story is there for: to inspire each of us to greater acts. And then figure out how to do something positive to impact your world. Not all of us will be Greg Mortensons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make a difference.


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