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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

An inspirational and uplifting story

A story which shows that people around the world are truly good. Whether this book simply makes you realize that you're not as different from your neighbor as your thought or it inspires you to follow your heart to change the world, it's a great read.

posted by SphinxFeathers on November 29, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

27 out of 44 people found this review helpful.

Not what I was hoping for.

I am an avid reader and love to read about other cultures. I found this book very dull and tedious. It was not really about the culture as the cover hints, but more of an autobiography about a mountain climber who visits that area. Although it does describe the perso...
I am an avid reader and love to read about other cultures. I found this book very dull and tedious. It was not really about the culture as the cover hints, but more of an autobiography about a mountain climber who visits that area. Although it does describe the personality of the people he meets, it does not describe how these people truly live. For example, although it goes on and on about the building of schools for girls, where the lumber and blocks actually come from, you never actually get to 'know' any of these girls or hear their stories. The book is more the author's perception of the people that he meets and the surprising kindness he feels, rather than a voice from a different culture. I found it disappointing.

posted by Anonymous on March 12, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2008

    ok

    The book, undoubtedly, helped me to better understand the war. However, as a book, I found it stylistically obnoxious. The author does not merely tell the story of Greg Mortenson's life, but he uses his book for hero worship. I also found the chronological order, and inclusion of unnecessary details to be rather boring/seemingly without purpose at times. So, even though the book carried an important concept, I have to give it a lower score for execution.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2008

    It was OK

    Sometimes actions speak a lot louder than words. Mortenson's wonderful personal journey from personal grief to a career of school building is a real modern day story of heroics that we hardly hear about anymore. Its nice to see people with the determination to literally change the world, the greatest quality I think this book had was an element of inspiration. For all the hype this book created, it really wasn¿t as good as I expected it to be. Don¿t get me wrong, it did have a good meaning which is what I think makes the book pretty good. It have interesting insight to regions of the world we hear little about, I found the cultural customs that the author dived into quite interesting. Reading about all the negotiating and financial hook-ups this man had to go through to get his dream realized, I found his actions very commendable ¿ not many people could do what he did. If I were to rate this book on the content alone, I'd give it 10 stars. Greg Mortenson is, as the book jacket states, a real-life Indiana Jones type hero, who nearly single-handedly built schools in the heart of Taliban country. There is virtually no one who can't be inspired and grateful for that. But my belief is that a book review should be based, not on the subject matter, but on the way it is written. And much as I wanted to love this book, it was simply written poorly. The author jerks from non-fiction prose to journalistic techniques, from flowery adjectives to staccato 'just the facts.' One really annoying thing was the occasional obscure word that the author clearly pulled out of a thesaurus. If an educated reader such as myself doesn't understand the words, you're probably going to alienate some readers. I think this book is very over-rated, as the author simply cannot write very well. So, the writing style is about the level of ¿I don¿t know¿People magazine? But far more egregious for me, I never felt that I knew the real Greg Mortenson. The story line jerked around a lot, leaving me confused with the many names and constantly had to look back to remind myself who was who. All in all, the book had a good meaning that, to me, made it worth reading, but it wasn¿t something that I would hail as a masterpiece - definitely not an easy beach read either.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2008

    Writing Flawed Story's Allure

    Three Cups of Tea attempted to present a story of success faced with strife and struggle. The plot¿s significance offered inspiration and beauty in human relationships. The cultural exposure of the Middle East, specifically in Pakistan and Afghanistan, was possibly the greatest quality of the work. The other world described seeks to make a connection with the reader¿s heart, but the quality of the writing often nullifies this objective. Greg Mortenson was posed as a character who stirred some curiosity deciphering his true essence was a test. In the end, we still may wonder what his real motivation was in completing the schools. Although, the story of his life was a bit of an adventure. His international travels and foreign upbringing were most intriguing. Mortenson¿s ultimate goal may have been presented in a drawn out manner, or maybe it was the fact that he faced adversity that was holding his life¿s story up, which made the story seem slow. The style this book was written in was not as satisfying as it could have been- the flow of the story never picked up for me. The piece lacked heart and soul, and provoked little thought, in my opinion. I would have liked to have read into more literary elements and meaningful allusions to spark fire to interest the reader. The action should have been presented more gracefully as with the warmth of a `good book¿. I believe the book was lacking, partly due to the fact that it was written second hand- told by Mortenson and interpreted by another- this was obvious to recognize while reading. Had Mortenson written the book on his own having some literary skill or with the help of another with some heavy editing, this book may have struck more emotion. The humanitarian premise that he brought forth deserved respect, but I don¿t think Three Cups of Tea did him justice. Mortenson could have been portrayed as a hero double-fold if the writing idolized his virtues more. He was a single guy climbing mountains in the first place- traveling to conquer the world¿s highest peaks. When faced with the many troubles Mortenson carried on in the same direction he started in. He even raised thousands of dollars from nothing because of his striving motivation. The author¿s writing played Greg¿s righteousness down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2008

    Three Cups of Tea? No, thank you.

    My book club met this evening to discuss this month's selection, 'Three Cups of Tea.' We are a group of wives and mothers with varied professional degrees, and who are active within our local volunteer community. As a previous book club member posted, we also 'wondered what all the fuss is about.' We collectively decided that just because this book is on the NYT's bestseller list does not necessarily mean it is either *good*, *well-written*, or relevant. 'Three Cups of Tea' is classified as a 'current events' selection, but obsesses on the foibles of a hapless not-for-profit fundraiser. It is shameful that the true heroes of the book are ignored namely, the brave Pakastani villagers who risk life and limb to provide a better life for their children. Also, the writing of this book leaves much to be desired. It is filled with tries-too-hard adjectives, and never found what voice was going to be the narrative. Maddening. If you are looking for an inspirational book to start the new year, 'Three Cups of Tea' isn't it.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    I just finished the book, 'Three Cups of Tea' and so completely moved and educated and angered by what is really going on in the middle east. I was so inspired by Greg's courage and tenacity and foresight, that fighting 'the war on terror' starts and lasts by educating and nuturing it's children. Period. Please read this book and share it with your friends and family.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2014

    Sonia K Worthington Three Cups of Tea was a great book and I enj

    Sonia K
    Worthington
    Three Cups of Tea was a great book and I enjoyed it a lot. It showed the true hardships it takes to succeed. It was really interesting learning about what it was like to be on the other side of the country around the time of 9/11. This booked showed that not all Pakistanis and Muslims are terrorists and hated Americans. In fact majority of the Muslims and Pakistanis in Three Cups of Tea  liked Americans and wanted to protect them when they were in Pakistan. I liked that this story had women empowerment and supported education for the poor. One thing that I didn't like about this book is that it took a while for the story to start really moving along. I was also really disappointed that a lot of the book was fabricated and the main character, Greg Mortenson, had taken credit for building schools that never existed or were made by someone else. But other than these two flaws, it was a spectacular story.
    I would definitely recommend this read to adults and teenagers. Anyone can learn from this book because after finishing it you can take away an important lesson. After reading this book I have discovered that even though it doesn't come easy, you can accomplish many things if you put your mind and energy into it. 
    This book is good for high school students because it tells them to keep trying. Three Cups of Tea shows students that they really have to work hard to succeed even though there might be obstacles. By reading this book students can realize you can't quit something just because it gets hard. And that is really important for students to understand this because they can't let one bad grade get to them. They must push through the difficulty just like Greg Mortenson did. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    Three Cups of Tea

    Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, is an inspiring story of a man with a mission to build schools. In 1993, he tried and failed to climb the world’s second highest mountain, K2, in the memory of his sister. When arriving at the village of Korphe, Mortenson sees children trying to write in the dirt and is inspired to eventually build a school in the community. Back in America, Mortenson lives in his car and struggles to keep his job. Despite his own personal obstacles, he unsuccessfully tries to raise money for his project. Eventually he gets a donation of 12,000 dollars from a wealthy physicist. Mortenson travels back to Pakistan and starts the construction on the new school. With the help of some friends, Haji Ali and Jean Hoerni, he finishes the construction and becomes well educated in the culture of the villagers.
    Mortenson gives up his own personal life to provide education to the young children of Korphe. He faces many physical and political obstacles as well as emotional obstacles throughout his project but he overcomes them all. This book shows the journey of Greg Mortenson as he struggles to help the village of Korphe. Mortenson shows courage and great leadership throughout the book by overcoming challenges. He shows that it is possible to help others even if it seems impossible. The symbolism of the three cups of tea is that when a person drinks a third cup of tea at your house, they are considered family. This symbolism shows how quick the village was to accept Greg Mortenson into their community and their gratitude towards him.
    In April of 2011, CBS’s 60 Minutes challenged the credibility of the book and questioned many of his actions. They stated that they could not find many witnesses and that Mortenson was actually not well known in that area of Pakistan. These accusations make it difficult to admire his work, but nonetheless the book, Three Cups of Tea, is an incredible book on leadership and determination.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 8, 2011

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    I Also Recommend:

    God Bless this man, his family and all those who helped him on this incredible journey!

    A truly remarkable jouney of courage and determination. The bonds that were created by Mr. Mortenson are forged of nothing but pure heart. Truly remarkable people forge paths that change the world and Mr. Mortenson does just that. Amazing - truly - beautifully written.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 19, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Fantastic.

    One man's journey to educate children in Pakinstan. A great perspective on war and the root causes. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone to read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2011

    Highly recommend

    One of the best I have ever read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Required reading for American policymakers...

    Just finished this and I fully understand why this book has been assigned as required reading - from what I'm told - for American military leaders in the Afghan-Pakistan theater of war. While it's overly detailed in some parts about Mortenson's life away from his efforts for the "cause," it aptly describes the Afghan-Paki frame of mind in the largely lawless areas of the Afghan-Pakistan border region. It also makes universal truths quite evident about poverty in general. Highly recommended.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 1, 2011

    Incredible Story!

    What would happen if we all took action like Greg Mortenson and believed in the good in human souls.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2010

    GREAT BOOK!!!!

    i loved this book its really touching it makes me want to help out and have a job like that some day!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2010

    Great Story-- Terrible Writing

    It is too bad that Relin ended up writing this story because it is an inspiring story but it is lost to terrible writing. The writing style chosen by Relin makes the story boring and hard to get through. The reader barely gets a sense of Mortensen's personality. Instead of having this be a personal story by Mortensen where the reader gets a sense of everyone involved the story harps on minute details that really take away from what it important. I hate starting a book and not finishing which is the only reason I was able to continue reading this book. Mortensen's story is sadly lost somewhere in this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Schools Instead of Bombs

    Three Cups of Tea takes you on a captivating journey, as it follows the life of Greg Mortenson, a dedicated man, who goes against all odds to better the lives of children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. After a failed attempt to climb the infamous mountain K2, Mortenson comes upon a poverty stricken village, and learns of the necessity of a school in the area. Dr. Greg, as the native people call him, promises to come back and build one, not knowing what this would lead too. After the trails of trying to find money to build the school, he meets Jean Hoerni, who donates a large amount of money so that Mortenson can fulfill his promise. Greg returns to Pakistan, and builds the school, but not without running into many challenges along the way. Because of this great act of kindness, many other natives ask Mortenson to build schools in their equally impoverished villages. Eventually, Greg along with the help of Hoerni, creates the Central Asia Institute (CAI), whose mission is to build schools all across central Asia, specifically for girls. Mortenson fights against strict Muslims who believe women shouldn't get the opportunity to be educated. While in the process of achieving the CAI's goal, 9/11 occurs, and Greg asserts his belief that we can't fight this war through military brute, and in order to have peace we must improve the children's education. This is the major message of the book, that giving children a good education is more effective in fighting wars than dropping bombs, and if the children start out with a healthy education, they won't be led into the extremist ways of the Taliban. A strong theme throughout the whole book was making opportunities out of adversity. We see this theme constantly when the girls of Pakistan fight against traditional beliefs, and become very successful. We also see this theme when Greg is trying to achieve his goals. I really liked how this book portrayed the Pakistani and Afghan people, going against many stereotypical Americans preconceived notions that all Muslims are terrorists. I also really liked seeing how one ordinary person was able to do so much good in the world. Something else I liked was how it showed what was going on in the Middle East after 9/11, and to be able to see the war through those people's eyes. One thing that I disliked was that the book used words from the native language of the area, and it didn't say what the word meant, making you have to guess its meaning. I would definitely recommend this book to someone. This book makes you want to get out and help, and a book has to be very inspiring in order to do that. My overall rating of this book would be 4.5 stars, because I wasn't able to put this book down and was absorbed throughout the whole thing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2010

    Captivating

    Very touching. A must read journey through Pakistan and the help he gave the people who lived there.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2010

    The Cup of Tea That Changed the World

    The novel Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is truly an amazing piece of work. It's all about the struggle that Mortenson faces in attempting to build schools in middle eastern countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, and many others. The story begins as Mortenson prepares himself for the decent of one of the hardest mountains to climb in the world, infamous K2 of the Himalayas. Sadly, he does not accomplish his goal of reaching the summit and ends up coming into larger problems. He is separated from the group and forced to survive the night on his own. By some miracle, he is found the next day by one of the Himalayan natives who was helping the climbing team. His name was Mouzafer and he was from the small village below K2 named Korphe. Mouzafer took Mortenson back to his village to give him time to recover. The leader of the village, Haji Ali, took Mortenson into his own home and nursed him back to life. Mortenson connected with the Korphe natives and was amazed to discover they had no type of school. He promised them that as soon as he was healthy again, he would return with the supplies to build a school. Korphe natives had heard promises like this before and did not think much of it, but sure enough, Mortenson overcame numerous challenges and built them a school with donated American money a few years down the road. A wealthy climber back in American heard of Mortenson's work and decided he would donate a large some of money to create an organization called the CAI (Central Asia Institute) with Greg Mortenson as the head. His name was Jean Hoerni. Mortenson and the CAI would build hundreds of schools for children all across Central Asia. The major message being portrayed in this novel is definitely the idea of how much one person can accomplish, and that one single man can actually change the world. It is overwhelmingly uplifting, and inspires the reader to go out and do good for the world. I really loved this novel and the story behind it. It really makes you realize how lucky you are to be able to go to school every day when some kids around the world wouldn't even have the choice if they wanted it. Greg Mortenson is truly an amazing individual and someone that I definitely aspire to be like. He has an incredible kind and easy going personality, but also so much passion to do good in the world. The only dislike I had was that it was a little difficult to keep all the foreign names straight. My overall rating is definitely very high, I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an inspiring story and a possibility to attempt to understand the events taking place outside of our country.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An absorbing story that illustrates the fact that despite the politics of a country we all have the same dreams for our children.

    Three Cups of Tea tells the story of a mountaineer who has failed to reach his goal but finds so much more in himself and the people involved with him.
    Greg Mortenson has truly made a difference to the lives of people who tend to be forgotten in a world where governments try to act on behalf of their countries but somehow seem to miss the point.
    This book definitely makes one think about the world around us and our own small part in it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2010

    Everyone should read this book.

    Greg Mortenson is an inspiration, and this incredibly absorbing and well-written book is a must-read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    Kudos to Mortenson for his spirit and determination

    I may not have read this book had it not been the monthly selection for my local book club. It started out a bit slowly for me, but I wanted to complete it so as to participate in the discussion. I am so glad that I did as it was inspirational and amazing. Greg Mortenson has to be a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize because what mere mortal had the tenacity and the courage to overcome such overwhelming obstacles and achieve something that has such potential to effect long-lasting peace.

    This book highlights the efforts from the very beginning of the quest of one man to bring education to a society of people who had never had such access and to even include girls in that process where they had heretofore been excluded. It begins almost as an accident when Mortenson drifts off the beaten path coming down from an attempt to climb K2. It ends with thousands of unschooled children attending classes in newly constructed schools complete with books and teachers. But it doesn't stop there. Infrastructures are addressed and vocational educational opportunities are provided to the women of the villages. Greg Mortenson seemingly can do more than entire governments can do spending much less money and doing so in an entirely unknown culture without offending the leaders - indeed through forging friendships with them. Governments, including our own, could learn a lot from Greg Mortenson. He honors all men and thus he is honored. That sounds fairly simple, but yet throughout history it seems to be one of the hardest lessons for individuals, for communities and for countries to learn.(less)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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