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Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  312,424 ratings  ·  21,972 reviews
The inspiring account of one man's campaign to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti-American reaches of Asia.

In April 2011, the CBS documentary "60 Minutes" called into question Greg Mortenson's work. The program alleged several inaccuracies in Three Cups of Tea, and its sequel, Stones into Schools, as well as financial improprieties in the operation of Mo
Paperback, Non-Classics, 349 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by Penguin (first published March 2nd 2006)
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Michelle Pescatrice After reading the comments about this book, I did some research on my own. Central Asia Institute, Mr. Mortenson's fund raising foundation to raise…moreAfter reading the comments about this book, I did some research on my own. Central Asia Institute, Mr. Mortenson's fund raising foundation to raise money for his schools currently rates very high on Charity Navigator which means it has been thoroughly examined for transparency of funds and amount of $ actually spent on the project - not administration! I still enjoyed reading this book and it helped me understand the life of the people living in these small mountain villages. (less)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
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 ·  312,424 ratings  ·  21,972 reviews

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Nov 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Here are a few things I’m suspicious of:

1. A book with two authors. It’s kind of like having too many cooks in the kitchen.
2. A book in which one of the two authors is the main subject of the book.
3. A book in which even though one of the authors is the main subject of the book, the book is written in third person.
4. Cultural imperialism.

With these four suspicions in mind, I started in on Three Cups of Tea, which was my book club’s choice for this month. Mortenson is a quirky do-
Jun 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is driving me fricking nuts. I'm struggling to finish it, and can I help it if I feel like a bad person for HATING this book even though I totally support its main purpose and the mission of the subject??

I hope not. Jeez, where do I start. The writing? It's terrible. I am now going to randomly pick a page, any page, and find a ridiculous, klunky morsel for you:

"Suleman sat like a smiling Buddha next to Mortensen, his arms crossed over the beginning of a pot belly."
May 29, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: fans of fabricated stories that have no depth and ramble on and on for centuries about random people
Recommended to hayden by: my World Cultures teacher (-_-')
EDIT: Just so you guys all know, the word "Mortenson" is in the text a total of 1,943 times. That's right. 1,943.

What I wish to do so badly to this book.

0 of 5 stars

Before I get started, I just want to say that no review I could ever write ever would ever portray how much this book sucked for me. To me, Three Cups of Tea is the perfect embodiment and representation of the most tragically horrible book I've ever read.

In fact, for you today, I'm going to make a list obook.
Mar 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Daniel by: Ann Donahue
Shelves: 2008, book-club
While it's hard to give a negative review to a book with its heart in the right place, "Three Cups of Teas" is so full of weaknesses it'd be impossible to give it a rating with any more stars. In fact, the book's writing style alone is so poor, I feel generous giving it even two stars.

Though the work Greg Mortenson is doing -- building schools in impoverished parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan sorely in need of them -- is certainly laudable, his mission seems ill-served by "Three Cups
Mar 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Katharine by: Amicus Books in Marysville
I'm about in the middle of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin and I'm ready to quit. First of all because when I just typed my first sentence here, I realized how sick I am of the words "Greg Mortenson". Half way through the book and the author is still immortalizing him by full name. I'm not a big fan of non-fiction but I've read plenty of third person accounts and don't remember this being so irritating in all of them.

Greg (smile) built schools in the high mountains i
Sep 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Meredith by: Kokomo-Howard County Public Library
Three Cups of Tea is one of the worst books I've ever been forced to read. From the first page of this memoir, the ghostwriter's sickening tone of hero worship has Greg Mortenson healing the sick, making the lame walk, and performing superhumanly selfless acts on a daily basis since his earliest childhood. Luckily, the author stops short of having Mortenson deliver his wife's baby and walking on water. What was probably intended to be an uplifting tale about how even the smallest among us can chang ...more
Another book disappeared from my shelves. I also read Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way, Krakauer's excellent expose of the ego and lies of Mortenson because I had read it. The book was totally self-serving. Mother Teresa couldn't have written better. Ok I'm not a fan of Mother Teresa, I'm don't quite swallow whole Hitchen's The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, but close. And so it is with Mortenson. He turned personal charity and what should ...more
Jessica (thebluestocking)
Three Cups of Tea contains a hint of a beautiful story. There were parts that made me tear up. Some of the parts that made me tear up were touching; other parts that made me tear up were painfully written.

Greg Mortenson is really an American hero. His work in Pakistan and Afghanistan is truly amazing. David Oliver Relin is an American journalist. His work, at least on this book, is not so heroic. The following are some of my favorite, terrible sentences from the book:

Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I approached this book with some reservation. If nothing else several years of study in Development Studies has made me very wary of "do-gooders". As others have noted, there is a strong element of imperialism in the idea of of an American's mission to "fight terrorism and build nations" and I was quite ready to be critical about it.
However I am happy to admit I really enjoyed and was inspired by the book. As Relin writes- "Supposedly objective reporters are at risk of being drawn into his
Jun 09, 2015 rated it really liked it

When starting out this book I was unaware of the controversy fueled by a hungry press to bring down a humanitarian philanthropist in their usual dog-eats-dog modus operandi.

I simply read a book by an adventurer who wanted to honor the memory of his sister in climbing K2 - the second highest mountain in the world. He not only honored his sister, but in the end honored thousands of helpless little girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan by building schools in remote plac
Oct 20, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who want to see Pakistan in a different light than mainstream media portrays
Having lived and worked in Pakistan for many years, and travelled to many of the places described, I enjoyed this book as a 'fun read.' I think it is very helpful for people who only have access to information about the country through mainstream media to see a side of the people, especially poor people in rural areas who are not very educated who many in the west assume to be fundamentalists, that more accurately reflects their culture: their hospitality, their concern for the future of their c ...more
Stephen Gallup
Aug 07, 2008 rated it did not like it
Some books I really enjoy reviewing. They’re either important, enjoyable, well-written, or some combination thereof. There are a few others I read (or start to read) that simply aren’t worth the effort of discussing at all. In a third group are books that bother me by triggering one of my pet peeves: Some may be well-written fiction, with great characters, but the author’s clear purpose is to push some kind of agenda. Others exploit children (especially disabled children) as a means of manipulat ...more
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: read2007, non-fiction
I had the honor of presenting the author, David Oliver Relin, at our library book group.

Greg Mortenson failed to climb K2, and while he headed back down the mountain, he took a wrong turn, missed his bridge, and found himself in Korphe, a village not found on his maps. (Ridges in the glacier are as big as highways.) The people there welcomed him and brought him back to health. He happened to ask them to take him to their school. There was none. The children met under the cold sky and used sticks to w
Jul 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Reading this I was left inspired by Greg Mortenson's determination and endurance.

As a mountaineer, he was trained at focused effort, but I would submit that building schools for girls in conservative Muslim Pakistan and Afghanistan was a higher summit than he ever attempted. The later chapters are especially compelling as he was one of the rare voices of peace after 9/11 and he caught some friction for his work from a very hawkish American public.

This is written in a workmanlike, journalistic
Feb 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants global peace to be more than a pipe dream!!
I wish goodreads had a 10-star rating for this book. Anyone who has ever wanted to make a difference, anyone who has ever dreamed the impossible dream of a diverse world living together in peaceful coexistence, anyone who has ever feared their own small voice was too small a drop in the bucket to matter -- MUST read this book, and then share it and its message with everyone you know. (NOTE: buy through the link at, and you will be sending 7% of the cost back to this amazing charity.) The book is ...more
May 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Malbadeen by: everyone and their dog
Shelves: nonfiction
Greg Mortisen this, Greg Mortisen that, Dr. Greg this, Dr. Greg that blah, blah, blah. This book was such a glowing endorsment for the person Greg Mortisen that I had a hard time taking in the story of what he did, because quite frankly I was getting sick of him. Which isn't necessarly fair because he wasn't telling the story so I'm not saying he's narsacistic or anything but the person telling it could have toned it down a notch or two and let us come to our conclusion, and no doubt we would ha ...more
Meredith Holley
Jul 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The US Government
Recommended to Meredith by: Linda Harrison, Shannon Kearney, and the Fed Ex lady
Such an important story . . . so distracted by the writing. The sun is not "lemony." I hope that Balti porters are not in any way like "Lear's jester." I listened to half of it on audio because I was so distracted by the way it was written, but the reader did voices and accents for everyone. Then when I picked it back up to read, all I could hear in my head for the voices were Abu from the Simpsons.

"After they'd traveled half a kilometer, he saw the firefight resume. The widely spaced streams o
Doug Bradshaw
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Much of Greg's work is valid still, but when I hear a lot of it is fiction and that he has been raiding the charity, I want to send him permanently to Afghanistan to run one of the schools. Here's my original review which I gave five stars:

This book affected the way I think about other cultures and the relationship the United States has with them. The writing was fun and well done, sometimes a bit too many adjectives and flowery descriptions were thrown in to make sure we didn't bore
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
My 'book sharing' buddy loaned this book to me and it just sat on my shelf. She said it was an amazing true story which lead her to staying up way past bed times reading. It was only when she asked for the loaner book back that I cracked it open. Next I knew, I was hooked too. It was a long week at work, but worth it.

Anyhow, definitely read this book! It is an amazing story of Greg Mortenson's work in Pakistan building school. "Yeah, Yeah. Rich America throwing their weight and money around. I'
Apr 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Carrie by: Costco
Feel-good, mandatory read for anyone interested in children, the future and in current events. My check to CAI will be in the mail soon- It makes you want to get involved.

The story of one incredible man's love for mountain climbing, that leads to the adventure of a lifetime.

Working to build schools for villages in the remote corners of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Greg Mortenson shines as an example that even one person can make huge difference to world. He may be a future N
Will Byrnes
Jun 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
Greg Mortenson is a remarkable man. Product of Minnesota parents who were both athletes and then missionaries, he spent much of his childhood in Tanzania. A high-end climber he was on his way back from an unsuccessful attempt at K2, 30 pounds lighter than he had been before the attempt, when, exhausted and lost, he wound up in the remote village of Korphe. Saved from an icy demise, Mortenson recovered. When the locals showed him their village he noticed that the children had no school. They stud ...more
Dec 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: peace workers
Recommended to Phayvanh by: Eric
I borrowed this book, having heard the story of it, and knowing that other people I knew were/had been reading this book. And I'm returning it so it may be passed along.

The premise is great, an inspiring story, whether real or not, and one I'd love to continue to know about. My main problem with the book is the storytelling, how it abruptly snaps back and forth in place and time so that I am not always sure where the scene is taking place or when until fully into the scene. And some
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent. Sometimes books such as these, howbeit inspiring, are often tedious to read. This one was not. I was fascinated.

After a failed attempt to climb K2, Greg Mortensen is separated from his guide and wanders into a small Pakistani village he otherwise would have never known existed. The friendships he made altered the course of his life. He promised to build them a school after seeing the teacherless village children writing school assignments in the dirt with sticks.

After t
Lisa Vegan
Jan 17, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: all world leaders; readers who want peace, care about literacy & education & human rights
Heartbreaking, uplifting, suspenseful, at times very funny.

If everyone on earth did 1/10 of what Greg Mortenson does for others, we’d have a much better world. If a hefty portion of the world’s population put in 10% of the work and effort and cash that Mortenson has done, for people in need all over the world, we might not have a perfect world, but it would be vastly improved.

At first I thought Mortenson must have some incredible amount of charisma, but really he just had the urge to help an
Dec 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Greg Mortenson was a mountaineer with his sights set on Pakistan’s unforgiving K2 when a disaster in his climbing party forced him to abort his attempt on the summit. On his way down, the exhausted climber got lost and wandered into a remote and impoverished village that had never seen a Westerner before.

As the kind residents helped Mortenson regain his strength, he committed to repaying them by building a school for the dozens of children he saw carving their lessons into the dirt w
Lyn Elliott
The turgid style would have put me off completely if it weren’t the next book club read. As it is, I have skipped then abandoned it. I would have given it 2 if I hadn’t read in front of the accusations of fraud.
Oh dear.
Wils Cain
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I had no idea what this book was about - and it has completely blown me away. This story of Greg Mortenson's actions to build schools for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a means to fight terrorism with knowledge. This book makes me question what I'm doing with my life in a very positive way. Everyone should read this - it should be required in our education system. Tell everyone you know to read this and then go out and do something just like Greg.
I am opting not to give this book a star rating. The story that is being told is worthy of 10 stars. The writing doesn't live up to the story, but it isn't so bad you can't get past it. This is definitely a book everyone should read.

Greg Mortenson's failure to summit K2 in Pakistan led him to the small village of Korphe where he witnessed children doing their school lessons outside in the cold unsupervised. The village couldn't afford a sheltered building or a full-time teacher. When
Jan 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
Okay, I'm a horrible person.

But let me say one thing first - Mortenson seems like a wonderful guy who is doing something very important, and he should be celebrated to the skies for it.

Just not by this book.

Intersting topic, BORING book. I don't care about Mortenson's failed personal relationship with a woman who is made to sound like an uncaring, self-center b*t*h. And I don't think that it was Mortenson's doing, I think it was Relin's.

I can't bla
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010, memoir
It's become a cliché, but true nonetheless, that when faced with something big and scary, something that makes us feel both angry and impotent, we always think and say we are too small in the scheme of things, that we are just one person, we couldn't do anything to help with those things, and so we never try. We make excuses in order to live with ourselves, because we know X is wrong, we can see the big picture and some of the long-running implications and consequences, we care, we want to scream our ...more
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Greg Mortenson is the co-founder of nonprofit Central Asia Institute, Pennies For Peace, and co-author of New York Times bestseller ‘Three Cups of Tea’ ( which has sold 3 million copies, been published in 39 countries, and a New York Times bestseller for three years since its January 2007 release, and Time Magazine Asia Book of The Year.

Mortenson’s new book, Sto
“Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities, but the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they’ve learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls.” 203 likes
“In times of war, you often hear leaders—Christian, Jewish, and Muslim—saying, ‘God is on our side.’ But that isn’t true. In war, God is on the side of refugees, widows, and orphans.” 101 likes
More quotes…