The GGG’s latest book, discussed yesterday over frozen drinks on the patio (which, now that I think about it, is a bit ironic), was Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
It says Greg Mortenson’s name first on the cover, but it seemed to me that David Oliver Relin was more the author, since it was all third-person, very much about Greg – obviously with in-depth personal knowledge of his thoughts and feelings, but also written with a pronounced admiration Greg certainly wouldn’t have written about himself.
The GGG was unanimous on the following points:
- Greg Mortenson is an amazing person/character. If there’s one thing you take away from this book, it has to be that one person CAN make an immense difference to the lives of thousands, even millions – to the point of changing the political landscape – but not just any person. This guy is off-the-charts special.
- None of us would marry him. Despite his motivation, tenacity, charisma, facility with languages, and extreme kindness… none of us would trade places with his wife, Tara Bishop, who is not only without her husband and the father of her children for large chunks of every year, but he goes to the Middle East, gallivants on mountains, rubs shoulders with terrorists… all with good reason, but frankly, it’s amazing he is still alive. And that she survives the stress.
- The whole concept of madrassas, schools built by the Taliban (where there were none) that were sequestered brainwashing institutions designed to raise terrorists, is effing scary. No wonder things are so messed up over there, with young, spongy children being served a curriculum of hatred.
A few additional thoughts from Dilovely:
- The book is very well-written. Great imagery, vivid characterization, cool details that stick in your mind. (You may know by now that this aspect means a lot to me.)
- It’s one of those books that makes me wrestle with myself. For someone who has always been invested in human rights and still hopes to help people in foreign countries someday, it should be, and is, empowering to read about someone making such a difference… but it’s also daunting. The book unflinchingly reveals just how mammoth and profound the problems are in the Middle East. As one of the group said, “It made me tired.” It’s hard to even think about what still needs doing over there when I’m trying to feel good about my latest accomplishment of getting the dishes done.
- I appreciated being given a much clearer picture of the physical landscape of the region as well as the social, cultural, and political ones. I learned a lot. (Whether I will remember what I learned is… um… what was I saying?)
- Some of the group found the book dragged a bit by the end, but I didn’t feel that way at all. It held my interest the whole way through.
To sum up: I highly recommend this book! But it ain’t just a walk in the park. It’s a steep climb up K2.