Glens Falls (NY) Online Book Discussion Group discussion

Books by Title/Title=topic name > _Three Cups of Tea_ by Greg Mortenson

Comments Showing 1-9 of 9 (9 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 26, 2011 11:05AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments I wrote the following in my review of the bestseller, Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace... One School at a Time (2006), by Greg Mortenson:
I listened to the audio version of this book. I was curious about it because our library had encouraged the whole town to read it. It's an amazing story. The main thrust of this true story is the fact that Greg Mortenson has been instrumental in the building of "fifty-five schools serving Pakistan and Afghanistan's poorest communities". In this way he hopes to fight the "root causes of terrorism - poverty and ignorance." (Quotes are from the GR description.)

Critics have said that the writing is disjointed but still worthy of reading. I would agree. It's amazing how Mortenson has managed to accomplish his goals in spite of the great dangers he faced in an area that is harsh, geographically and politically.

Parts of the book didn't interest me, especially the part about mountain-climbing at the beginning of the book. In other parts of the book there seemed to be too many details to deal with. Fortunately, the story became more interesting to me later on as it related the way Mortenson befriended the leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan and won their respect.

Little by little, Mortenson was able to raise money from private sources. Gradually news of his accomplishments spread and the ball kept rolling. More and more people donated funds to his cause. He co-founded the CAI (Central Asia Institute) which manages the fund-raising and the building of the schools.

I truly hope that Mortenson's work will be effective in the fight against terrorism, although it seems a daunting and difficult task.

BTW, the title* may refer to the way the village elders extend hospitality by offering tea and sociability to people, a cultural custom which Mortenson found lacking in the higher reaches of our own technically oriented society. (Tea was even part of the negotiating process, as described on page 136 of the large-type edition. It talks about Mortenson "swollen with tea".)

Below is a page with links to various You-Tube clips of Mortenson interviews:

*PS-About the title, while listening to Mortenson on a YouTube clip at:
I heard him explain that the tea idea is about building relationships: At the first cup you're a stranger; the second cup makes you a friend; and the third cup makes you part of the family. Below is an exact quote from Wiki:

"The book's title comes from a Balti proverb: 'The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family...' "

Below is a quote from Mortenson:
"Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects."

message 2: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6069 comments I agree with your review of The Cups of Tea. The fact that it is a true story of one man's great( And I can't emphasize the great too much)effort to help young girls catches the reader. However, the text could have used an editor. So be it; good story. nina

message 3: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 27, 2011 02:13PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Yes, Nina, it's incredible that one man could endure all that and accomplish what he has. It's a lesson in perseverance! Not only did he help build schools, but a bridge had to be constructed at one point before one of the schools could be built!

message 4: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 28, 2011 06:31AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Below is a link to a YouTube video:
"BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Greg Mortenson | PBS":
As of the interview, 131 schools had been built as a result of Mortenson's efforts.

message 5: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments In 2009, Mortenson followed up with another book covering this same topic. The book is: Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

message 6: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 28, 2011 06:43AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Also in 2009, Greg Mortenson "adapted his humanitarian memoir Three Cups of Tea for young readers! ... This edition has been updated and thoughtfully reshaped for the needs and interests of children":
Listen to the Wind: the Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea

message 7: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6069 comments I wonder about Greg Mortenson's family. He hardly saw his children or wife as he was gone most of the time. I am not certain he is still married. I once looked up his current lifestyle but have forgotten it now. He was constantly trying to get funds; I remember that part. nina

message 8: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 28, 2011 03:20PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Nina, about Mortenson's family, Wiki says: "Mortenson currently lives in Bozeman, Montana with his wife Dr. Tara Bishop, a clinical psychologist, and their two children."

Other websites say:
"Mortenson, who is married and has two children, spends about five months a year in Central Asia. 'The long absences from my family are painful,' he says. 'But when I look into the eyes of the children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I see my own children. I want to leave a legacy of peace for them all.'"

A caption to a photo at Greg Mortenson's Blog says:
"Greg Mortenson, with his son Khyber and daughter Amira, visit with students at the Gultari war refugee girls school built in the Karakoram mountains of Pakistan in 2007."

Below is a link to a video showing him with his daughter, Amira, being interviewed on the NBC Today show:
During the interview, Amira discusses her father's absences and mentions her travels with him. The same web page has a long excerpt from the book, Three Cups of Tea.

An interesing biography of Mortenson can be found at:
"At last, a short article on Mortenson's effort, published in the newsletter of the American Himalayan Society, came to the attention of Dr. Jean Hoerni. The Swiss-born Hoerni was an accomplished mountaineer as well as a distinguished physicist, a pioneer of microprocessors and a founder of the Silicon Valley semiconductor industry. He was also a millionaire many times over, with a wide-ranging array of philanthropic interests. Dr. Hoerni was familiar with Karakoram range and the bitter poverty of the Balti villages on its slopes. Initially skeptical, when he realized how little money Mortenson was looking for, Hoerni made a single donation that enabled Mortenson to buy all the materials he needed to build the school.
Dr. Hoerni endowed a foundation, the Central Asia Institute, and named Mortenson its Executive Director, with an annual salary..."

message 9: by Nina (new)

Nina | 6069 comments Thanks for the info. I think that his father-in law was also responsible for some of his funding. I am happy to hear his family is still in tact. nina

back to top