Monday, August 2, 2010

{book review}: Three Cups of Tea

If you're new to the blog, I started doing book "reviews" a little while back.  If you've missed out, here are the previous reviews:

1. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
2. Eat. Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

which brings us to:

4. Three Cups of Tea
by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

The synopsis:
Greg Mortenson was a mountaineer who failed his attempt to climb K2.  Through this failure, he nearly lost his life, but was eventually found by his porter and taken to the nearest village, Korphe, where he slept in the nurmadhar's (chief) hut.  Mortenson was, in fact, the first foreigner to ever come to Korphe.  The people showed him such kindness during his recovery that he fell in love with them.  During his tour of the village, he saw that the children were kneeling on the frosty ground in the open - they had no school. 

Mortenson was so touched and appalled, he made a promise before his departure to come back and build a school.

And it starts.

The review:
Summaries and reviews are always difficult to not give the story away.  The first almost half of this book was frustrating to me.  Mortenson is nothing special.  I would not even say he's a smart man by any means.  But his heart is so big for these people.  I cringed in frustration at how long it took and all the trials he went through to build the first school.  But I will say, just before the half-way point in this book, the story picks up and is difficult to put down from there forward.

I have to share a small part that really touched me.
My generation will always know where they were when we heard about the events of 9/11.
Greg Mortenson was in Pakistan.

Although a flight had been arranged to carry him out of the country on 9/14, he stayed to dedicate the Kuardu School.  During the dedication, Syed Abbas (the supreme religious leader in Baltistan) made this speech:

"It is by fate that Allah the Almighty has brought us together this hour.  Today is a day that you children will remember forever and tell your children and grandchildren.  Today, from the darkness of illiteracy, the light of education shines bright."

"We share in the sorrow as people weep and suffer in America today, as we inaugurate this school.  Those who have committed this evil act against the innocent, the women and children , to create thousands of widows and orphans do not do so in the name of Islam.  By the grace of Allah the Almighty, may justice be served upon them."

"For this tragedy, I humbly ask Mr. George and Dr. Greg Sahib (Mortenson) for their forgiveness.  All of you, my brethren: Protect and embrace these two American brothers in our midst.  Let no harm come to them.  Share all you have to make their mission successful."

"These two Christian men have come halfway around the world to show our Muslim children the light of education."..."I request America to look into our hearts and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good and simple people.  Our land is stricken with poverty becausde we are without education.  But today, another candle of knowledge has been lit.  In the name of Allah the Almighty, may it light our way out of the darkness we find ourselves in."

It was a truly beautiful speech.  Through this book, the poverty of Pakistan and Afghanistan is so heartbreaking, and the only chance children are given is to go to school at a radical madrassa, to learn the jihad beliefs.  When they are promised money after school to join the Taliban army, it seems to be their only option.

Through education, Mortenson is giving these Muslim children another way.
With each school, these children have a chance.

Two more quotes and I'll quit:

"If we try to resolve terrorism with military might and nothing else, then we will be no safer than we were before 9/11.  If we truly want a legacy of peace for our children , we need to understand that this is a war that will ultimately be won with books, not with bombs." 
~ Greg Mortenson

"...As a military man, I know you can never fight and win against someone who can shoot at you once and then run off and hide while you have to remain eternally on guard.  You have to attack the source of your enemy's strength.  In America's case, that's not Osama or Saddam or anyone else.  The enemy is ignorance.  The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business.  Otherwise the fight will go on forever."
~ Brigadier General Bashir Baz

I hope you will take the opportunity to read this book if you haven't already.
I'm ready for a little fiction, so the next book will be The Island by Victoria Hislop.

~ the brunette

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