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Joe Mac

Three Cups of Tea

I'm reading 'Three Cups of Tea' by Greg Mortenson and David Relin. It's about the efforts of Mortenson and others to build schools in the Karakoram region of Pakistan, starting in about 1994, after Mortenson stumbled off K2 after a failed attempt at climbing the world's second-highest mountain and into a Balti village where the children learned their sums by scratching them in the dirt of an open field.
Condemned and obstructed by the petty, the xenophobic, the greedy and the envious, Mortenson was also welcomed and embraced by many good people in Baltistan, including the top Shiite banana of the region, who overruled a fatwa against the infidel by another, lesser mullah.
So far (I'm a bit over halfway through), he's built over a dozen schools in villages and towns that mostly had none, and especially not for girls. However, we're creeping up on 9/11 and the aftermath, so I expect his job is going to get tougher.

While roaming through old threads, I noticed this one.  I thought I had talked about Three Cups of Tea somewhere but can't find it.  we read it for our book club last year.  I think people enjoyed it fine at the time, but when we ranked them later it came last.  Too repetitive after a while, as he describes the work that went into forming each school.  

But a very impressive achievement needing a lot of work, liaisoning, getting on with locals, working out how the system operated (I recall he refused to bribe anyone, but feel that others did it for him).  I think he would be one of these very active pain-in-the-neck sort of people in reality.

What I remember especially was his wife and he/him falling in love at first sight.  I think our members were interested and totally accepting of that.

Cheers, Caro.

This book is currently in the news, as it is being claimed that the author fabricated things, including that some of the schools he mentions that he claims were funded by the charity do not in fact exist.  Something dodgy about the finances too - though he is disputing the claims.

Yeah, I read about this on the guardian books site.:

Thanks for that update, Evie and Mike.  We are having our book club meeting at my place on Wednesday (seeing I wasn't here for the last one, my place was volunteered!) and I will print out that Guardian article for them.  

It does seem to me a bit of 'tall poppy bashing' though.  Interesting about the story of his walking into the village from the mountain, which was certainly a very strong introduction to the book, but doesn't really take away from the overall message.  I did wonder when I was reading it about one of his stories:  he said he tried for months to raise money to get to Pakistan and build a school and sent letters everywhere and got absolutely nothing.  I thought at the time that sounded a little odd and surely someone would have donated something in response.  But he didn't come across as someone who was particularly concerned with financial organisation (and again that innocence is probably exaggerated in the book).  

Cheers, Caro.

(PS Mike, on our other new board, you might be able to make some sensible comments about babies and their sense of humour.)

While looking to post something else on the non-fiction forum, I saw this thread and on today's news there was an update on this.  Greg Mortensen has been ordered to pay a million dollars to a charity and not allowed voting rights on the board.  His financial management has been called 'haphazard' and he has used charity money for himself.  (I doubt if he ever thought of them as particularly separate.)

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