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Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote

A book by Greg Mortenson.

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Reaching the highest summit

  • Aug 6, 2008
  • by
Sometimes the only way to find what you are looking for is by getting lost. Often, the only way to achieve victory is first to fail. If Greg Mortenson had not yet learned these two lessons when attempting to reach the summit of K2 in 1993--the second highest mountain in the world but, it is said, the toughest to climb--then he learned these lessons on the way down. He would never forget.

Greg Mortenson is a three-cup tea drinker. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the tradition is that with the first cup, one is a stranger; with the second cup, one is a friend; but with the third cup, one has become family. For family, one is prepared to do anything, even to sacrifice one's life.

As a young man, Mortenson was a mountain climber and a military man, so he understood hard work and discipline. He had learned how to set a goal, keep his eyes on the summit, and go for it--with everything in him. Climbing K2 was a special challenge he had set for himself, a kind of tribute to his sister who had died young. He failed the climb, however, and when he turned around, short of the summit, and headed back down, Mortenson realized that he had gotten lost. He had intended to meet his guide in a town in the foothills, but instead had kept going down the road and ended up in a village in the Karakoram mountains. Exhausted, hungry, filthy, he was greeted with three cups of wretched tasting tea and the warm embrace of family.

Three Cups of Tea is the story of Greg Mortenson's decade of building 55 schools across Pakistan and Afghanistan in gratitude for that moment of welcome for a lost man. Many of them are schools for girls, the often forgotten ones who find a new chance at life through education. While for much of his first years in this role, Mortenson himself toes the edge of poverty, working on a bare bone salary, funding much of the school building through the kindness of a rich mentor and various other donations, he is finally recognized for the work that he does after the events of 9/11. No, not right away. Initially, he receives bags of hate mail for "helping the enemy." But there comes a fascinating turning point in the story when wiser minds begin to realize that the answer to terrorism, perpetrated, after all, by a few, is not the violence of war against many, but through the expression of human kindness--and education.

This is truly a remarkable story. If anyone deserves the Nobel Peace Prize (and there is such talk), then it is Greg Mortenson. This story is about the world-altering change one man can create. Let no one ever again say that one person cannot make a difference.

Written by David Oliver Relin, who travels all of Mortenson's paths to record this story, it is far more fascinating than any novel. Mortenson climbed his mountain. Not K2, but a mountain that no one believed he could climb, and he took 55 schools full of eager children, and the villages that surrounded them, to the highest summit.

Not only highly recommended. This book is a must, must, must read, and no less so with the elections of leaders now looming.

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review by . July 23, 2010
This is a true story about how a mountain climber having lost his way, is rescued by the people from an obscure and isolated village high in the mountains of Pakistan.  As Greg Mortenson was nursed back to health, the village chief showed him where the children had their school lessons.  It consisted of a bare plot of dirt where they scratched their lessons into the dry soil.  Greg was so moved that he promised he would build them a proper school.  Upon returning to his home …
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
Quick Tip by . July 08, 2010
Reading this made me feel frustrated and tied in knots because of all the struggles he went through to finally reach his goal.
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
Inspiring. I heard Greg Mortenson speak at BYU last year and he is an incredible person.
Quick Tip by . July 08, 2010
This should be mandatory reading of every high school student. You want to understand this poorly understood part of the world? Here is a good start.
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
An amazing true story of a man's unselfishness to help build school's in Afghan and Pakistan
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
I love this concept, this book, and this writer!
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Very inspiring story of Mortenson's journey to change a nation though education.
Quick Tip by . June 24, 2010
Wonderful story of a man's trip into the world of poverty who makes a change! Inspiring
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Not the greatest writing, but what a story!!! This guy lives in Bozeman, MT where I went to college and his life story will inspire the hardest heart to do SOMETHING positive for others in need. This guy is someone I truly admire. Bono has nothing on him.
About the reviewer
Zinta Aistars ()
Ranked #134
I am the creative director, writer and editor at Z Word, LLC, and correspondent for southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate station, where I do on-air author interviews.
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About this book


Three Cups of Tea is a New York Times bestselling book by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin published by Penguin in 2006. The book describes Mortenson's transition from a mountain-climber to a humanitarian committed to reducing poverty and educating girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. He did this by co-founding the "Central Asia Institute," which has built over 78 schools in the most remote areas of the countries.

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Books, Book, Cafe Libri, Education, Nonfiction, Politics, History, New York Times Bestsellers, Bestsellers, Ny Times Bestsellers, Afghanistan, Pakistan, David Oliver Relin, Greg Mortenson, Penguin Books, Three Cups Of Tea


ISBN-10: 0143038257 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780143038252 (pbk.)
Author: Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Penguin
Date Published: January, 2007
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