I've finally gotten around to reading Three Cups of Tea after hearing about it 2 years ago, before it became wildly popular. There was more than one reason why I didn't read it then, but since we're doing it for our book group, it was time to read it.
First of all, this is a review of the book. This is not a review of Greg Mortenson's amazing efforts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, nor really anything about him. That sort of review would be five stars. Despite some mistakes, and some pretty stupid ones at that (getting kidnapped and the defacement of his passport? those and several other things could and should have been avoided with a bit more education on Mortenson's part), Greg Mortenson has, through sheer tenacity, been an almost unmatched force for good there.
But I can't say I was impressed with the book. The unfortunate subtitle, mediocre writing, and the author's agenda all were problems. Yes, the subtitle has been changed in some editions, but the terrorism one still is too widespread, and if you've read the book, you'd know that terrorism subtitle doesn't fit Greg Mortenson's goals.
Relin, the one who actually writes the book, definitely sounds like a journalist. The entire book sounded like a long magazine article, except for a few forays into lofty and phony-sounding sentences. The book didn't flow at all and I just slogged through the last one hundred pages. And what was up with details about Mortenson's failed relationship? We heard more about that girlfriend than his wife, Tara. Tara practically disappeared from the book after making an appearance for a few pages. Even though the book is over three hundred pages, I didn't get three hundred pages worth out of it.
I also felt that Relin had an agenda that didn't match up with Mortenson's goals, at least as I understood his goals from reading the book. I felt that Mortenson builds schools because he wants to make individual lives better, the lives of the people he loves in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Relin almost makes it sound like Mortenson had a political agenda, especially by the end of the book.
The love for the people and places didn't come through the way I'd hoped and that's why I wanted to read it. Still, Mortenson's story is valuable and inspiring, and from all the hype, most people don't have the same problems with it I did, so I'd recommend it.