"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, September 12, 2008

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson has lived not only a fascinating life but a life filled with terror, insight, and most of all, humanity.

His life began growing up in Tanzania where his Minnesota-born parents moved him at a very young age to be Lutheran missionaries and teachers. There he learned to live in, and be accepting of, a culture much different than that he experienced in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. It was that tolerance and his acquired love of climbing that led him to the start of his humanitarian efforts.

In 1993, a failed effort to scale K2 found Mortenson being brought down the mountainside, broken and battered, and nursed back to health by the people of an impoverished village in Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya. After gaining the strength to get up and about, he found the girls of the village writing "lessons" in the dirt with sticks in an attempt to educate themselves. In gratitude for all they had done for him, he made them an impulsive promise of building them a school so their daughters could obtain a proper education. He went back to his home in Berkeley, CA, sold all his belongings and headed back to fulfill his promise.

In living among the people of the region that gave birth to the Taliban and sanctuary to Al Qaeda, Mortenson realized that the only way to fight the ignorance and poverty of its people was to educate their sons and daughters. He believed that providing girls and boys with a balanced, non-extremist education would make them much less vulnerable to the extremist madrassas.

Today, Mortenson is the director of the Central Asia Institute and has built fifty-five schools serving Pakistan and Afghanistan's poorest communities.

In reading Three Cups of Tea, I was completely riveted from the beginning. Mortenson has climbed mountains, been taken hostage by terrorists, was led into Mother Teresa's death room to pay his respects, and has personally spearheaded a move towards peace between warring factions. He is a truly amazing man with a truly amazing story. I highly recommend this book; it will both educate and entertain.

No comments: