A story of tenacity and goodwill

REVIEW: “Three Cups of Tea,” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2006)

Reviewed by REBECCA RANDALL

Greg Mortenson is a down-on-his-luck mountain climber at the beginning of the book, but by the end he is soaring. After a failed attempt to climb K2, Mortenson arrives half-dead carried by his porter into a village high in the Karakoram Range of Pakistan. The villagers welcome him and revive his health. Moved by their kindness Mortenson promises to return and build a school in the village.

The first half of the book is about his fumbling, and perhaps inept, attempts at creating a nonprofit, fundraising and ultimately fulfilling his promise to build a school in a country unlike his own. I found this part of the book to be frustrating and slow moving. The reader “watches” Mortenson take a number of missteps, and it was hard to keep cheering for Mortenson when it seemed his plan would end in failure.

But as Mortenson, who seems an unlikely hero, starts to remind oneself startlingly of yourself and your own dreams it is hard to put the book down. One cannot help but admire a man so moved by his convictions that he is willing to fail and learn before beginning to soar.

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