Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: Three Cups of Tea

Author: Greg Mortenson & David Relin
Title: Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time
Description: This book is pretty well known by now, but if you haven’t heard: Greg Mortenson gets lost in Pakistan and in gratitude to the village that took him in, promises to build them a school. With almost no resources, he manages to get it done, but it is just the first of many schools he builds in Pakistan and Central Asia.
Source: The Penguin treasure-trove.
Big Caveat: About a year ago, a bunch of articles came out that exposed several parts of this book as fictional. There have also been questions about Mortenson’s management of money and the resources of the Central Asia Institute. With no strong rebuttal from Mortenson or the publisher, those allegations were constantly in my mind as I read this book; I have to admit to looking at it pretty cynically.
Writing style: There were some issues here. For one thing, though Mortenson is listed as the primary author, the book is written in the third person. That allows for as much aggrandizement of Mortenson as possible without it sounding like boasting. This got on my nerves.
Audience: The book could be read by anyone; it doesn’t seem geared toward a certain audience. I know it has been chosen for multiple One Reads.
Major ideas: The way to combat terrorism is through education, not war.
Wrap-up: The controversy surrounding the book and Mortenson’s eagerness to embrace the role of hero both bothered me. I didn’t think the book was especially well-written, though I do think the message is important. 2/5*

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