18 January 2008
Three Cups of Tea Top 10 ListI read the book “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. This is a list of the top ten things to know about it. The list does not go in order of importance.
1. The Plot:
The book is a true story about Greg Mortenson trying to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Greg gets into a lot of trouble, as one might imagine in Asia nowadays, so the book is about his struggle to build as many schools as he can, and to make sure they aren’t destroyed!
2. Some of the book takes place in Minnesota:
Greg Mortenson was born in Minnesota (35; ch. 4). Also, he later came back to give a presentation at Mr. Sports in Apple Valley (225; ch. 18). I’ve always lived in Minnesota, so this makes the book seem more real than it would otherwise. After all I have never been to Asia, and I surely don’t have a good idea of what it’s like.
3. How the title relates to the book:
The title “Three Cups of Tea” refers to the way business is done in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The first time you have tea with someone, you are a stranger. Then the second time you are a friend, and the third time you are family (150; ch. 12). This is very important to the story, because Greg feels that he is at home in Asia, so it is his responsibility to build schools for them.
4. Why Haji Ali is important:
Haji Ali was the person who inspired Greg to build the schools. When Mortenson was trying to hike up the mountain called K2, he got lost, and he came to the village of Korphe. There Haji Ali, the leader of the village, let Mortenson stay in his home and use his best possessions. When Mortenson learned that Korphe had no school, he promised Haji Ali that he would build one (ch. 2-3).
5. The authors:
There are two authors, Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. I assume that Greg Mortenson told the story of what he did, and Relin wrote about it (he is only in the introduction to the story). David Relin often quotes Mortenson and other people during the book. This can become irritating at times, because it often becomes repetitive, and it makes the story seem like a documentary instead of a novel.
6. The book’s purpose:
The book was written to raise money for the Central Asia Institute, of which Greg is the Director. The CAI website URL, www.ikat.org, is found at the end of the book, and from there you can make donations. During the book, Greg talks about how he raised funds for the CAI from giving speeches and writing articles, and it shows how much they need the money.
7. The fatwas:
Two fatwas (religious rulings) were declared against Mortenson, but both were eventually overturned. They used the education of girls as their excuse, but it was later revealed that this wasn’t anti-Islam. In fact, the Koran teaches that all children should receive education (199; ch. 16). Both times, it was clear that the fatwas were the results of religious leaders abusing their power to earn money.
8. Greg Mortenson’s wife:
Greg was a mountain climber and he met his wife, Tara Bishop, at an American Himalayan Foundation dinner (ch. 11). She played a fairly major role in “Three Cups of Tea,” because Greg often went back home to visit her and his children. She often worried about him while he was gone, especially after 9/11 happened (254; ch. 19).
9. Mortenson’s kidnapping:
While in Peshawar, on a mission to find if the citizens wanted to have a school, Greg was kidnapped and held for many days in a cell (ch. 13). This could answer the question that many people must have asked Mortenson: “If you spent so much time in Asia, how did you survive?” He was eventually released, after telling someone there that he builds schools.
10. The theme:
The theme of the book is to show how one person can make a difference in the world. This is mentioned in the quote on the front cover, instead of one of the fourteen other quotes found at the start of the book. Even though Mortenson received much help and money from others, one thing is certain: if he had never lived, the Central Asia Institute or a similar organization would not exist today.
Works CitedMortenson, Greg, and David Oliver Relin. Three Cups of Tea. New York: Penguin Group, 2006.