09 January 2010
Stones into Schools
Despite my reservations about Three Cups of Tea, I've been looking forward to reading Greg Mortenson's new book. And I'm pleased to say I liked it ever so much better. This is the book I've been wanting to read about Greg Mortenson and the CAI.
SiS only has Mortenson listed as an author, unlike TCoT which was co-written with David Relin. SiS is written in first person and feels much more personal, even though there are many fewer personal details in SiS than TCoT. TCoT also seemed to go in for hero worship, which didn't sit well with me. TCoT was about Greg Mortenson, and SiS is about Central Asia, the people working for the CAI, and most especially about the people who have benefitted from the schools.
One of the things I liked best about this book was that it's so much about Central Asia. I'm sure not everyone will like that part (and the book really could have used more editing- it was too long), and there was more than one mistake (calling Tatarstan Tartarstan, spelling names of villages in different ways on that same page), and the maps, even though there were 6, could have been clearer, but overall it was so much fun to read a Central Asia book by someone who loves the people and places of Central Asia. So much of what I read about Central Asia doesn't quite fit that.
I also loved the bits about the Kyrgyz in the Wakhan. And the women who were getting medical training so they could work in the Wakhan. And the different stories of the men working for the CAI. And understanding a little better why the Mortenson family doesn't move to Pakistan. And reading about the logisitics of getting buildng materials to the Wakhan. And so much more.
It seems like I've talked to so many people who were fired up by TCoT, and I never felt that. But I do about Stones into Schools. Definitely recommended, even if you don't care about Central Asia. And if you do read it, try to read it soon, because the epilogue will be more meaningful for the next few months.