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Three Cups of Tea I approached this book with some reservation If nothing else several years of study in Development Studies has made me very wary of do gooders As others have noted, there is a strong element of imperialism in the idea of of an American s mission to fight terrorism and build nations and I was quite ready to be critical about it.However I am happy to admit I really enjoyed and was inspired by the book As Relin writesSupposedly objective reporters are at risk of being drawn into his orbit Thetime I spent watching Mortenson work, theconvinced I became that I was in the presence of something extraordinaryMortenson appears to have a genuine humanitarian motivation and a deep affection for the people he works with.I was surprised as I read the book to note that many of the paper lessons I learned about doing development were the lessons Mortenson learned through his work and his mistakes Participation is one of the biggest buzzwords in development today and this is what Mortenson learned, and one hopes, how CAI continues to practise This is what the three cups of tea is all about I do however a have a few niggles with the book While acknowledging it was never written as a academic text I found the overwhelming positivity somewhat unrealistic Whereever outsiders come in to do development or aid work, there are both positive and negative consequences, one just hopes the positive outweigh the negative I believe in this case it does, but arounded discussion of the work would have been good.And there is, possibly unavoidably, a touch of imperialism Mortenson is American He started out as a penniless individual who wanted to help but he now leads a growing organisation with a significant budget I hope he continues to maintain the relationships that take this organisation above being just another development project.Overall, I highly recommend this book, taken with just the tinest little grain of salt to aid digestion. I m about in the middle of Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin and I m ready to quit First of all because when I just typed my first sentence here, I realized how sick I am of the words Greg Mortenson Half way through the book and the author is still immortalizing him by full name I m not a big fan of non fiction but I ve read plenty of third person accounts and don t remember this being so irritating in all of them Greg smile built schools in the high mountains in Pakistan Huge endeavor Wonderful thing to do He innocently jumped in and pretty much wore himself out before he got to be a corporation with a steady income My favorite part was him renting a typewriter to send out begging letters took him all day to type half a dozen letters Then someone took pity on him and introduced him to the world of computers He was thrilled with the cut and paste keys I get a thrill just thinking about one or two people getting involved and making changes that countHowever, I found the writing sophmoric and I hate that The book is two damn long, the discriptions are clumsy too damn long and the characterization is almost non existent.A lot of people really enjoyed this book, so I m not saying don t bother It is inspiring and I truly respect the man what he did It s a shame it wasn t written well For me, this book would have been a perfect National Geograpic articlepictures far less words. The Inspiring Account Of One Man S Campaign To Build Schools In The Most Dangerous, Remote, And Anti American Reaches Of AsiaIn April , The CBS DocumentaryMinutes Called Into Question Greg Mortenson S Work The Program Alleged Inaccuracies In Three Cups Of Tea And Its Sequel, Stones Into Schools As Well As Financial Improprieties In The Operation Of Mortenson S Central Asia Institute Questions Were Also Raised About Mortenson S Claim That He Got Lost Near K And Ended Up In Korphe That He Was Captured By The Taliban InThe Number Of Schools The CAI Claimed To Have Built And Whether CAI Funds Had Been Used Appropriately For Mortenson S Book Tours View The Broadcast Jon Krakauer, Who Had Supported The CAI To The Tune Of ,, Also Questioned Mortenson S Accounts And Released His Allegations In A Lengthy Article Titled Three Cups Of Deceit While it s hard to give a negative review to a book with its heart in the right place, Three Cups of Teas is so full of weaknesses it d be impossible to give it a rating with anystars In fact, the book s writing style alone is so poor, I feel generous giving it even two stars.Though the work Greg Mortenson is doing building schools in impoverished parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan sorely in need of them is certainly laudable, his mission seems ill served by Three Cups The book, billed as being coauthored by Mortenson and David Oliver Relin but obviously written by Relin alone, is so worshipful of Mortenson and the work he has done, the reader almost begins to feel Relin is being defensive Did someone at one time attack Mortenson s good name Is this the defense s argument It seems that on almost every other page Relin rolls out yet another person Into Thin Air author Jon Krakauer, Congresswoman Mary Bono, people Mortenson s worked with to talk about how wonderful a person he is, how deserving he is of the Nobel Peace Prize.Beyond that, there s simply not enough material here for a full length book Entire sections feel like padding that do nothingthan get the story to book length Pages and pages about a failed relationship Mortenson had before he met his wife, for instance, are almost entirely tangential The story would have made a good profile in The New Yorker or The New York Times Magazine, but there s simply not enough material here to justify a 350 page book.It also doesn t help that there s almost nothing here about how the education Mortenson s schools are giving to boys and girls is actually affecting life in their villages or if it is Granted, it s probably too early to see many results, but is that not also an argument that this story is not quite book worthy Maybe Mortenson and Relin needed to wait another 10 years before telling their story.So far, though, I ve ignored Three Cups s writing Bad and often inappropriate puns, failed attempts to be poetic, and clunky, overwrought sentences make the book particularly hard to get through It got to the point that I began writing down particularly egregious sentences Here are a few from my notes Mortenson sat on a boulder and drank from his water bottle until it was empty But he couldn t drink in enough of this setting As they drove past the scale model of the mountain where Pakistan had detonated its Muslim Bomb, Mortenson told his friend and fixer about the explosion of support Americans had provided for the CAI Get it Bomb, explosion Feel free to groan He leaned over the side of the truck to request a stop and saw the top of the bearish assistant s close cropped head stretching out the window, and beyond it, straight down fifteen hundred feet to the bottom of the rocky gorge, where a coffee colored river foamed over boulders Wow, the assistant s head stretched down fifteen hundred feet to the bottom of the gorge Tell meabout this guy When Haji Ali handed him a cup of butter tea, Mortenson drank it with something similar to pleasure So it wasn t pleasure then What is this something that s similar to pleasure The widely spaced streams of tracers leaped across the road like ellipses But to Mortenson, who wouldn t learn his friends had survived until the following week, when he returned to Kabul, they lookedlike question marks Talk about tortured metaphors Ouch This may seem like nitpicking, but these types of sentences occur throughout the whole book I easily filled five pages of a small notepad with only the worst of the worst Mortenson s story is worth telling, but I wish he d found a better way and a better writer to tell it. Another book disappeared from my shelves I also read Three Cups of Deceit How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way, Krakauer s excellent expose of the ego and lies of Mortenson because I had read it The book was totally self serving Mother Teresa couldn t have written better Ok I m not a fan of Mother Teresa, I m don t quite swallow whole Hitchen s The Missionary Position Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, but close And so it is with Mortenson He turned personal charity and what should have been morality into a business and , opportunity for fame, self aggrandisement and general hero saint status Krakauer, like Hitchens, is an iconoclast by nature and sometimes by profession We despise the gutter press, those tabloids that seem to exist to knock people down, but they have a place One better occupied by intelligent writing that relies less upon our gut reaction andabout our understanding of facts and process But still the gutter press Dailymail.co.uk chief among them now the News of the World dug it s own grave and fell backwards into it do their research and present the same conclusions.Is it schadenfreude that makes me like books like this Am I really so immature as to like to see people s feet of clay crumbling beneath them Or is it a burning desire for justice Perhaps a mixture of both.I have about 3K books on my shelves The ones that have disappeared represent less than 0.5% that I know about How manythough And how many people does this bug affect Librariansimports Who knows GR doesn t seem to do anything about it but maybe they can t track the bug down because it is done by people rather than computer programs. Three Cups of Tea is one of the worst books I ve ever been forced to read From the first page of this memoir, the ghostwriter s sickening tone of hero worship has Greg Mortenson healing the sick, making the lame walk, and performing superhumanly selfless acts on a daily basis since his earliest childhood Luckily, the author stops short of having Mortenson deliver his wife s baby and walking on water What was probably intended to be an uplifting tale about how even the smallest among us can change the world think Frodo in the Lord of the Rings reads as a nauseating self congratulatory chronicle that celebrates the type of globetrotting do gooding considered by many to be part of The White Savior Industrial Complex that is actually counterproductive.If you want to read about someone doing truly inspirational humanitarian work with the dirt poor in Asia, then research Sabriye Tenberken and the organization Braille Without Borders that she founded She has also penned her own memoir My Path Leads to Tibet The Inspiring Story of How One Young Blind Woman Brought Hope to the Blind Children of Tibet. Three Cups of Tea contains a hint of a beautiful story There were parts that made me tear up Some of the parts that made me tear up were touching other parts that made me tear up were painfully written.Greg Mortenson is really an American hero His work in Pakistan and Afghanistan is truly amazing David Oliver Relin is an American journalist His work, at least on this book, is not so heroic The following are some of my favorite, terrible sentences from the book And by the time the rising sun iced the hanging glaciers of Masherbrum pale pink, like a gargantuan pastry dangling above them at breakfast time, Mortenson had agreed to shift the funds his board had approved for the doomed Khane school upside to this village whose headman had traveled so far downriver to educate himself p 206 And rippling out from Mortenson s headquarters in Skardu, over the parched dunes, through the twisting gorges, and up the weather bound valley of Baltistan, the legend of a giant infidel called Dr Greg was likewise growing p 210 In the fall of 2003, at the desk of his aviation company in Rawalpindi, as he tried to arrange a flight for Mortenson to Afghanistan, now that the CAI s work in Pakistan was on firm enough footing for him to leave, Bhangoo s boss, the bull like Brigadier General Bashir Baz, ruminated on the importance of educating all of Pakistan s children, and the progress America was making in the war on terror p 310 As the above sentences might indicate, the writing in this book was painful, to say to the least Some of the folks onsuggested skimming through most of the book I don t know if that is necessary, but it might save you a few tears. JUST AN OPINION NO BLURB NO REVIEWWhen starting out this book I was unaware of the controversy fueled by a hungry press to bring down a humanitarian philanthropist in their usual dog eats dog modus operandi I simply read a book by an adventurer who wanted to honor the memory of his sister in climbing K2 the second highest mountain in the world He not only honored his sister, but in the end honored thousands of helpless little girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan by building schools in remote places and changing their lives forever.I worked with people such as Mr Mortenson I worked for many years in many similar remote communities in Africa He worked in Pakistan and Afganistan I could totally relate to the experiences and stories he shared I fully understand the problems he experienced, the expectations, the impossible viability of many of these dreams by poor, remote communities I have seen the work these organizations have done in very difficult situations I observed the press building up a person, preparing for the biggest destruction heist their actual aim to sell newspapers and airtime I might be crucified for being this outspoken, but I am used to the consequences The fact remains, Mr Mortenson DID help thousands of girls getting educated, and he DID build schools where there were no schools or hope of education before He DID accomplish with books what bombs could not achieve He taught the world a lesson in peacemaking that should never be forgotten It doesn t matter if he built three or a three hundred schools It doesn t matter if he spent lots of money promoting his non profit organization He simply did not know the potholes in the road of fame He did not seek fame, he was made famous by a hungry scandal seeking media, and they made sure they found it His co author was a journalist A million words was reduced to three hundred thousand by a journalist The fact that his co author was a journalist, explains why the facts were converted to sensationalism to sell the book.Does it really matter that he did not get lost and found a small village of people whom he promised a school Does it matter that he visited the village a second time and made the promise then Does it matter that he was not kidnapped Perhaps yes A major faux pas It was the two elements in his story that provided a foothold for the media to dig his grave The fact remains, he still built relationships in these countries defying the general impression of Americans as evil people He proved the critics of America wrong His enemies hated him for the good work he was is doing, and they made sure they take a good man down He is not a villain, he is still a hero.Greg Mortenson is an average person who grew up in Africa as the son of Lutheran missionaries was a misfit in America Minnesota due to calling himself a white African have a heart bigger than the world and politics left everything behind to make a difference in this world And what a huge difference it is Apart from helping thousands of girls, he also changed the image of America in Pakistan and Afghanistan He changed the image of these two countries in America, by writing his books and doing the talk lecture rounds That is major accomplishments The problem now is, that the people who understand dare not speak out The hungry mobs are bulldozing their own sensational truths through the universe, prohibiting the real truth to expose them I admire him as a person and for the work he has done THERE, BY THE GRACE OF GOD, GOES A MAN May he rise above his mistakes and his critics May he continue with the work he is doing The world needs people like Greg Mortenson They are one in a billion I have nothing to lose by calling a spade a spade This man needs objective people with an objective observation on the situation I can only hope that my opinion can mean something He needs real friends now. This book is driving me fricking nuts I m struggling to finish it, and can I help it if I feel like a bad person for HATING this book even though I totally support its main purpose and the mission of the subject I hope not Jeez, where do I start The writing It s terrible I am now going to randomly pick a page, any page, and find a ridiculous, klunky morsel for you Suleman sat like a smiling Buddha next to Mortensen, his arms crossed over the beginning of a pot belly or, the inspiring view that greets these students from every classroom the roof of the world, represented by Masherbrum s soaring summit ridge has already helped convince many of Hushe s children to aim high or, my personal favorite And by the time the rising sun iced the hanging glaciers of Masherbrum pale pink, like a gargantuan pastry dangling above them at breakfast time, Mortenson had agreed to shift the funds his board had approved for the doomed Khane school upside to this village whose headman had traveled so far downriver to educate himself I could go on, but I ll spare you If you d like 350 pages of the above prose, by all means read this book.What else besides the writing The methods I was always told that non fiction writing is a pretty specific genre, and that if you don t have a quotation written down from a source, or have it recorded somehow, you don t use quotations at all The whole time I m reading, I keep thinking, there s no way Mortensen remembers every exact conversation he had 15 years ago and that s an exact quote from my brain, by the way Plus, there are historical inaccuracies all over the place that made me question the validity of the hyperbolized text and the way in which the co author For Mortensen is the other idolizes his subject beyond, well, objectivity For example, there s an entire passage about the year 2000, when Mortensen is struggling with his lack of management skills, his frustration with the lack of sustainability of his foundation s finances, and fulfilling his duties to his family He goes on a trip to SE Asia to observe other development projects, and ends up in Calcutta, and wouldn t you know it, Mother Teresa just died and he buys himself a big ole bouquet of flowers to honor her, and goes to pay his respects to her shrouded body It s a quite moving passage naturally it s littered with horrific metaphor, but I ll leave that alone for now , until it occurred to me that Mother Teresa died in 1997 Yeah, right after Princess Diana I mean, I know that it s OK to take a little poetic license with this stuff, but the writer has Mortensen strutting his stuff triumphantly all over the Pakistani mountain ridges in 1997guess it didn t fit in with the narrative arc that Mother Teresa had the indecency to die 3 years too early for Mortensen to mourn her loss at the same time he s reached his own personal crisis of faith.Wow this sounds bitter I guess my ultimate point is this I believe in community driven development I believe that education and other related iniatives create stronger societies and really work to promote peace and alleviate violence and terror But for such an important topic, I really feel that Mortensen deserved a writer who could beobjective and yes, gasp , critical at times I am left disbelieving in this foundation, and I am skeptical of its management and practices I am wary of those who claim to forge the solutions for all in one single bound I hope that I read another account of Mortensen that changes my mind This book did little for me but make me despair for the unmentioned NGOs and others who are working likely toward the same goal in the same region, without the benefit of collaboration with this Mortensen s access to resources.Oh yeah, and I resent the book jacket referring to Mortensen as a real life Indiana Jones sheesh. EDIT Just so you guys all know, the word Mortenson is in the text a total of 1,943 times That s right 1,943. What I wish to do so badly to this book. 0 of 5 starsBefore I get started, I just want to say that no review I could ever write ever would ever portray how much this book sucked for me To me, Three Cups of Tea is the perfect embodiment and representation of the most tragically horrible book I ve ever read.In fact, for you today, I m going to make a list of the 10 most tragic things in Three Cups of Tea The 10 Most Tragic Things In Three Cups of Tea Not in Any Order 1 The Stilted and Pretentious Writing Don t even get me started on the atrocious writing Relin is the worst possible person anyone could ve ever chosen to write Mortenson s story In fact, if someone else would have written the book, I probably would ve enjoyed it a lotIt may even have been a three star read for me, if it wasn t written in a horrid and stilted manner Relin describes every single thing down to the last detail I specifically remember an entire scene dedicated to the entire biography of someone completely irrelevant to the book at all, some climber woman who was really brave and all that crap Another two chapters were backstory and DIDN T ADVANCE THE PLOT AT ALL No wonder it took me 83 days to read this book The prose of the book ispurple than Barney, and I think that speaks for itself 2 The Pacing This book wasn t exciting at all I felt in no way excited to readin fact, I couldn t have cared less As I mentioned in the first section, Relin writes detail of every single thing and I m not kidding , like it really mattered what color hat his guide exiting the mountain, Mouzafer, was wearing and how many scratches it had and how long he had it and how he recalled his experiences of getting it every time he put it on Okay, that might have been a minor exaggeration snickers I jumped up, cheered, and giggled maniacally when I was done and realized I didn t have anyhell to go through before the summer was over 3 The Blatantly Hyperbolized Heroism And by that, I mean how Relin writes Mortenson to be completely pretentious and how he writes this aura of perfection about him that makes him seem like Jesus descended to Earth and decided to build schools for poor and starving Middle Eastern children By the time I got to around page 100, I finally found Relin detailing something Mortenson wasn t good at, and I was relieved that he really wasn t the second coming of Jesus like Relin was brainwashed to believe.If you re reading this Dear David Oliver Relin,Mr Gregory Mortenson HAS FLAWS.Please get this through your thick skull, since it s obvious Mortenson didn t write a word of this.Sincerely,a Frustrated Reader. 4 The Length Three Cups of Tea is 125,000 words For those of you who have no idea how long that really is, it s longer than Twilight Yes, it is FREAKING LONGER THAN TWILIGHT. I m sure if the editor of this book had any common sense, it would ve been condensed to AT LEAST a maximum of 85,000 So much of this book was just extended detailing and backstories that really had no relevance to what was currently going on I really didn t care about Marina at all I didn t care that his throat clogged up and his sexual organ swelled every time he saw her, and that he was talking to his Balti friends about her and about how beautiful she was Did it have anything to do with the schools being built I ll give you a hint the answer rhymes with the word HO which happens to bring Marina to mind , and it starts with an N 5 The Lack of Reference to Balti Language In the entirety of the book, there is a lot of Balti language used, especially in the beginning when he s adjusting to life there The Balti words are nearly always italicized i.e Inshallah , but I d say only 1 4 of all the Balti words are defined in the text, either right next to the word or in the sentences paragraphs that follow Google helped me a lot over the course of the book when I actually cared about what they meant because I thought they d help me later on I don t even remember what my example word above means That s how scarce definitions of the Balti language was 6 The Sentence Length I m gonna get this out of the way most of the sentences in this book wouldn t even fit in Goodreads status updates, I shit you not Goodreads status updates can be up to 420 characters Whole sentences are commonly over that length in this book It d be a HUGE pain in the butt to read aloud I don t think I ve ever read a book in the history of my life that s this stretched out.I mean, seriously Even the very last paragraph of the book which is one sentence, people, and it s in 10 is completely stretched out and seems strangely perpetual and confusing and dramatic when it s not It seems like Relin tried to create a cute ending and failed miserably look at all those freaking commas 7 The Fabrications Three Cups of Deceit How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His WayThese should be self explanatory.In fact, I m pretty sure I would ve enjoyed this bookmaybe a lotif I didn t know most of it was false Knowing this makes reading it seem pointless Why would my English teacher assign something completely fabricated and horribly written for me to read over the summer when she could ve chosen much better alternatives that actually have character and aren t filled with cheesy metaphors I ve heard the previous years choice was Lord of the Flies, and at this point, I welcome that book in with open arms 8 The Word Mortenson The main flaw that arises in writing this book in third person is how many times the main character s name is referenced I mean, seriously, you couldn t have called him Greg Just reading the name Mortenson after reading this book makes me shudder and feel sick to my stomach.I actually think this book would ve been better had it been written by Mortenson the prose would ve been much less purple maybe a nice, subtle shade of periwinkle and I d have been able to escape the dreadful Mortenson that appeared at the beginning of each paragraph I put this book on the shelf prose is purple as barney for a reason.This just in the word Mortenson appears 1,943 times in the text of the novel That s right Be warned 9 The Painful Metaphors Relin needs to obliviate the word metaphor from his vocabulary, because it doesn t truly enhance his writing, but instead makes it laugh worthy I write better metaphorically than him, and I m 14 years old Metaphors like a storage space smelling like Africa and the night being bitterly crystalline things which still don t make sense to me can be eliminated Being as I, along with many others, have never been to Africa, I don t think that first metaphor should even be usable Maybe the editor just gave up and decided he she was done with this atrocity I honestly wish I had that option somewhere along the line of reading this 10 The Last Paragraph Tell me, have you ever read anythingscrewed up grammatically than this Mortenson put his hands on the shoulders of Sadhar Khan s brown robe, as he d done a decade earlier, among other mountains, with another leader, named Haji Ali, conscious, not of the gunmen still observing him through their sniperscopes, nor of the shahid a word not defined stones, warmed to amber by the sun s late rays, but of the inner mountain he d committed, in that instant, to climb Can someone just shoot me now THE ONLY POSITIVE ASPECT OF ANYTHING RELATED TO THE STORY The end, because I knew it was over and I wouldn t have to turn another page in it again Haji Ali Anyone who says Sit down and shut your mouth You re making everyone crazy to Greg Mortenson deserves my utmost respect The line Sheeyit Bitch ain t got but two dollars When I first reviewed this book, I gave it 0.5 stars I ve realized since then that NOTHING could ever make this book worth even a half of a star, not a cute story in certain, very sparse, parts or a funny line or a clever character Nothing Below, I m going to include some memorable status updates of mine and some snapshots of margin notes Status Update 1 With his ear for languages, Mortenson soon had a basic Balti vocabulary This is what I m sure Relin meant by this sentence With his astounding ability to do everything he desired, including his outstanding ear for languages, within days, Mortenson was magnificently able to develop a large and complex vocabulary of the Balti people, which he was able to speak flawlessly That s what the rest of it is like Status Update 2 The snout of the Baltoro Glacier lay at the bottom of a canyon, black with debris and sculpted to a point like the nose of a 747 Really Like the nose of a 747 I don t think anyone knows what that is I think like a G6 would berelatable to modern society Status Update 3 Wow If I look past the glaring errors and factual mishaps and exaggerations and over detailing and overused words and complete and utter bias and misused adjectives and inexplicably long sentences and blatantly hyperbolized heroism and tragic characterization, this isn t bad Status Update 4 This book has Irrefutably Biased Syndrome If Mortenson had known how scarce and precious sugar was to the Balti, how rarely they used it themselves, he would have refused the second cup of tea Which, of course, is blatantly insinuating that Mortenson had the manners of a saint and was completely acceptable with leaving the sugar to the Balti Relin is inferior Status Update 5 Okay In nonfiction, don t quotes have to be exact There s no freakin way Mortenson remembers everything everyone said as if it were five minutes ago Status Update 6 Finally Something Mortenson s NOT good at forehead wipe Status Update 7 Why does he keep going back and forth between America and Pakistan You d think the airfare expenses are dwindling away what little he has left of his savings Not a very smart investment, if you ask me Status Update 8 I m going to start calling you Morty Dear Morty, I didn t pick this book up by choice, but if I did, I wouldn t have picked it up to hear about the prosperity of your love life But thanks for sharing NOT Sincerely, A Disturbed Reader Status Update 9 Mortenson arranged to go back home and see his wife, Tara, whom was expected to deliver their first child within a month He gets kidnapped by misunderstanding people Mortenson is rescued by kind men who arrange a party thrown in his occasion and who give him money for his schools to be built That was the value of the entire twenty page chapter Literally And you wonder why I hate this book Status Update 10 Aw That was a cute scene That s probably all the positive you ll get about this book Status Update 11 I promise, Mortenson said, adding the burden of another vow to the weighty collection of oaths old men kept making him take That might just be the most clever line I ve read thus far Status Update 12 Dang Morty just reached into some chick s uterus Status Update 13 Chocolate would help right now Chocolate always helps MARGIN SNAPSHOTS Photos Taken of Memorably Cruel Comments

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