Three Cups of Tea

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Three Cups of Tea
ThreeCupsOfTea BookCover.jpg
Cover of Three Cups of Tea
Author Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
GenreMemoir
Publisher Penguin Group
Publication date
2006, 2007, 2008
Media typeHardcover, Paperback, Audio CD
Pages368
ISBN 978-0-14-303825-2
OCLC 83299454
Followed byStones into Schools 

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time (original hardcover title: Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations ... One School at a Time) is a controversial book by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin published by Penguin in 2007. The book describes Mortenson's transition from a registered nurse and mountain climber to a humanitarian committed to reducing poverty and elevating education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Following the beginnings of his humanitarian efforts, Mortenson co-founded the Central Asia Institute (CAI), a non-profit group that has reported overseeing the construction of over 171 schools as of 2010. [1] CAI reported that these schools provide education to over 64,000 children, including 54,000 girls, [2] in the remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where few education opportunities previously existed. [3] [4] [5]

Contents

The book's title was inspired by a saying Haji Ali shared with Mortenson: "The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family..." [6] Three Cups of Tea remained on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller's list for four years. [7] [8]

In April 2011, critiques and challenges of the book and Mortenson surfaced. Author Jon Krakauer alleged that a number of Mortenson's claims in the book are fictitious and accused him of mismanaging CAI funds. [9] [10] [11] [12] In 2012, Mortenson agreed to repay $1 million to CAI following an investigation by the Montana attorney general. The inquiry determined that he had misspent over $6 million of the organization's money, although no criminality was found. [13]

Summary

In 1993, mountaineer Greg Mortenson attempted to climb K2, the world's second highest mountain, located in the Karakoram range of Gilgit-Baltistan, as a way of honoring the memory of his deceased sister, Christa. As a memorial, he had planned to lay her amber necklace on the mountain's summit. [14] After more than 70 days on the mountain, Mortenson and three other climbers had their ascent interrupted by the need to complete a 75-hour life-saving rescue of a fifth climber. Mortenson became lost while descending alone, and became weak and exhausted. Instead of arriving in Askole, where his porters awaited, he came across Korphe, a small village built on a shelf jutting out from a canyon. He was greeted and taken in by the chief elder of Korphe, Haji Ali. [15]

Mortenson soon found out that the village had no school. To repay the remote community for their hospitality, Mortenson recounted in the book that he promised to build a school for the village. After difficulties in raising capital, Mortenson was introduced to Jean Hoerni, a Silicon Valley pioneer who donated the money that Mortenson needed for his school. In the last months of his life, Hoerni co-founded the Central Asia Institute with Mortenson, endowing the CAI to build schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. [16]

According to the book, Mortenson faced many daunting challenges in his quest to raise funds for the building of more than 55 schools in Taliban territory. Some of these challenges included death threats from Islamic mullahs, long periods of separation from his family, and being kidnapped by Taliban sympathizers. [17]

Authorship

Though Mortenson and Relin are given equal credit for authoring Three Cups of Tea, it is written from Relin's perspective as a journalist interviewing and observing Mortenson. In the introduction, Relin admitted that his desire to see Mortenson's project succeed likely influenced his objectivity as a reporter. [18] Elizabeth Kaplan, the agent for the book, later acknowledged that the relationship between Mortenson and Relin was difficult. [19] Mortenson, who was often traveling, was hard to track down, and Relin spoke publicly about how Mortenson should not have been named a co-author. [19] As detailed in a New York Times article, Relin "suffered emotionally and financially as basic facts in the book were called into question" and later committed suicide on November 15, 2012. [19] [20]

Publication

The original hardback edition of the book was released in 2006 with the subtitle One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism One School at a Time. Mortenson fought against this subtitle, and the edition sold only 20,000 copies. He continued to prevail upon the publishers to change the subtitle to his first choice for the 2007 paperback edition: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time. His publisher relented, and the re-titled book made the New York Times nonfiction paperback bestseller list. Mortenson explained his reasoning for the subtitle in a lecture given in Fairfield, Connecticut: "If you just fight terrorism, it's based in fear. If you promote peace, it's based in hope." [21]

The book remained a number one New York Times bestseller for three years after its release. [22] The book has been published in over 39 countries and has been chosen for One City One Book community reads in over 300 cities.[ citation needed ] It continues to be a popular university freshman or campus read on about three dozen campuses,[ citation needed ] and is used on over 100 university and college campuses as a Freshman Experience, Honor's program, or campus-wide read book. A young adult version of Three Cups of Tea was published by Penguin on January 22, 2009.

Controversy

Criticism

In 2010, South Asian scholar and anthropologist Nosheen Ali criticized Three Cups of Tea in that “it constructs a misleading narrative of terror in which the realities of Northern Pakistan and Muslim life-worlds are distorted through simplistic tropes of ignorance, backwardness and extremism, while histories of US geopolitics and violence are erased.” [23]

In regard to Mortenson's management style at the Central Asia Institute, Nicholas D. Kristof, formerly a supporter, said that Mortenson is "utterly disorganized", and added, "I am deeply troubled that only 41 percent of the money raised in 2009 went to build schools." [24] In a deeper look into Mortenson's business dealings, British journalist Jonathan Foreman wrote in a 2008 Daily Telegraph story that CAI's success was due in part to Mortenson's use of intuition and last-minute decision-making. Foreman explained that Mortenson was habitually late for meetings but that those traits worked well and were important to the success of his work in the Balti region of Pakistan. Baltistanis have no tenses in their language, are vague on their timekeeping, and make their own decisions largely based on intuition. [25]

Allegations

On the April 17, 2011, broadcast of CBS News' 60 Minutes , correspondent Steve Kroft alleged inaccuracies in Three Cups of Tea and its sequel, Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as financial improprieties in the operation of the Central Asia Institute. The 60 Minutes report made the following allegations:

60 Minutes asked Mortenson for an interview before their broadcast, but he did not respond to their requests. [26]

Jon Krakauer, a former financial supporter of CAI, questioned Mortenson's accounts separately and was interviewed for the 60 Minutes segment. The day after the broadcast, Krakauer published his allegations in a lengthy online article, Three Cups of Deceit — How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way. [28] In the article, Krakauer documents how he had been captivated by Mortenson's story and donated substantial sums to CAI, but subsequently heard stories of misconduct and began investigating. Krakauer stated that he invited Mortenson to address his allegations and scheduled an interview where Mortenson lives, but Mortenson canceled the interview. [29]

Responses

Mortenson responded to the allegations made against him in the Bozeman Chronicle : "I stand by the information conveyed in my book, and by the value of CAI's work in empowering local communities to build and operate schools that have educated more than 60,000 students." Mortenson further explained, "The time about our final days on K2 and ongoing journey to Korphe village and Skardu is a compressed version of events that took place in the fall of 1993..." [30]

Scott Darsney, a respected mountaineer and friend of Greg Mortenson, sent an email, subsequently turned into an exclusive article for the online version of Outside magazine, as a response to the allegations against Mortenson. [31] Darsney questioned the accuracy and fairness of both the Krakauer piece and the 60 Minutes report. Darsney had been interviewed by Krakauer, and maintained that Krakauer either misquoted or misunderstood what he said.

CAI responded to Krakauer's allegations by releasing a comprehensive list of projects completed over several years and currently in progress. The list was released in December 2011.

In April 2012, following a year of investigation by the Montana attorney general, Mortenson agreed to repay $1 million to the CAI. The Montana inquiry determined that he had misspent over $6 million of the organization's money, although no criminality was found. Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock said: "Mr Mortenson may not have intentionally deceived the board or his employees, but his disregard for and attitude about basic record-keeping and accounting for his activities essentially had the same effect." [13]

Lawsuits

In May 2011, Jean Price and Michele Reinhart, Democratic Party representatives in Montana, along with Dan Donovan, a Great Falls attorney, filed a class-action lawsuit against Mortenson and asked a federal judge in Missoula to place all proceeds from the purchase of Mortenson's books into a trust to be used for humanitarian purposes. The total of Mortenson's book sales then stood near $5 million. [32] [33] [34] In June 2011, Price dropped out of the suit because she had never read the book. [35] In Illinois, former school teacher Deborah Netter dropped her Illinois lawsuit against Mortenson in early July 2011, and joined the Montana lawsuit in mid-July. [36] [37] [38] The Montana lawsuit was dismissed on April 30, 2012. [39] In October 2013, an appeal of the dismissal of the class-action lawsuit claiming damages against Greg Mortenson over Three Cups of Tea was rejected by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. [40]

Awards

Editions

Sequel

A sequel to Three Cups of Tea, titled Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace With Books, Not Bombs, In Afghanistan and Pakistan , was released on December 1, 2009, by Viking Press. Stones Into Schools explores the progress of Mortenson's seventeen-year effort to promote female literacy and education, with an emphasis on the expansion of his efforts into Afghanistan and his expressed desire to help the U.S. military to promote peace and build relationships with the Afghan shura (leaders). [46]

Related Research Articles

Foreign relations of Pakistan

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan maintains a large diplomatic network across the world. Pakistan is the second largest Muslim-majority country in terms of population and is the only Muslim majority nation to have possession of nuclear weapons.

Karakoram

The Karakoram is a mountain range spanning the borders of China, India, and Pakistan, with the northwest extremity of the range extending to Afghanistan and Tajikistan; its highest 15 mountains are all based in Pakistan. It begins in the Wakhan Corridor (Afghanistan) in the west and encompasses the majority of Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan) and extends into Ladakh (India) and the disputed Aksai Chin region controlled by China. It is the second highest mountain range in the world and part of the complex of ranges including the Pamir Mountains, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayan Mountains. The Karakoram has eighteen summits over 7,500 m (24,600 ft) height, with four of them exceeding 8,000 m (26,000 ft): K2, the second highest peak in the world at 8,611 m (28,251 ft), Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak and Gasherbrum II.

Jon Krakauer American writer and journalist

Jon Krakauer is an American writer and mountaineer. He is the author of best-selling non-fiction books—Into the Wild; Into Thin Air; Under the Banner of Heaven; and Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman—as well as numerous magazine articles. He was a member of an ill-fated expedition to summit Mount Everest in 1996, one of the deadliest disasters in the history of climbing Everest.

Jean Amédée Hoerni was a Swiss-American engineer. He was a silicon transistor pioneer, and a member of the "traitorous eight". He developed the planar process, an important technology for reliably fabricating and manufacturing semiconductor devices, such as transistors and integrated circuits.

Wakhan

Wakhan or "the Wakhan" is a rugged, mountainous part of the Pamir, Hindu Kush and Karakoram regions of Afghanistan. Wakhan District is a district in Badakshan Province.

Culture of Pakistan is intertwined with the culture of the broader Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. Comprises numerous ethnic groups: the Punjabis, Saraikis, Pothwaris, Kashmiris, Sindhis, Muhajirs, Makrani in the south; Baloch, Hazaras and Pashtuns in the west; Dards, Wakhi, Baltis, Shinaki and Burusho communities in the north. The culture of these Pakistani ethnic groups have been greatly influenced by many of its neighbours, such as the other South Asian, Iranic, Turkic as well as the peoples of Central Asia and West Asia.

The Kiriyama Prize was an international literary award awarded to books about the Pacific Rim and South Asia. Its goal was to encourage greater understanding among the peoples and nations of the region. Established in 1996, the prize was last awarded in 2008.

Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson is an American professional speaker, writer, veteran, and former mountaineer. He is a co-founder and former executive director of the non-profit Central Asia Institute and the founder of the educational charity Pennies for Peace.

Central Asia Institute

Central Asia Institute (CAI) is an international non-profit organization, co-founded by Greg Mortenson and Jean Hoerni in 1996. The organization is based in Bozeman, Montana and works to promote and support community-based education throughout Central Asia, primarily in Pakistan and Afghanistan, by building schools, supporting teacher-training programs, and funding school scholarships.

Anatol Lieven

Peter Paul Anatol Lieven is a British author, Orwell Prize-winning journalist, and policy analyst, currently serving as a professor at Georgetown University, visiting professor at King's College London, and fellow at the New America Foundation.

Atossa Leoni is an actress who has been working internationally in film, television and theater since childhood.

Pennies for Peace

Pennies for Peace is a program sponsored by Central Asia Institute, in which school children in the United States raise pennies to help fund CAI's educational projects. The program focuses on raising cross-cultural awareness through education to promote peace.

Korphe is a small subsistence farming village in northeastern Pakistan, situated at the foot of the Karakoram mountain range along the banks of the Braldu River.

Dayton Literary Peace Prize

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize is an annual United States literary award "recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace" that was first awarded in 2006. Awards are given for adult fiction and non-fiction books published at some point within the immediate past year that have led readers to a better understanding of other peoples, cultures, religions, and political views, with the winner in each category receiving a cash prize of $10,000. The award is an offshoot of the Dayton Peace Prize, which grew out of the 1995 peace accords ending the Bosnian War. In 2011, the former "Lifetime Achievement Award" was renamed the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award with a $10,000 honorarium.

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<i>Stones into Schools</i>

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a New York Times bestselling book by Greg Mortenson published by Viking in 2009. The book is the sequel to the bestselling book Three Cups of Tea and tells the story of Mortenson's humanitarian efforts to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan with his non-profit charity organization, Central Asia Institute (CAI). CAI reports that as of 2010, it has overseen the building over 171 schools in the two countries. These schools reportedly provide education to over 64,000 children, including 54,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before in the remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

<i>Three Cups of Deceit</i>

Three Cups of Deceit: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way is a 2011 e-book written by Jon Krakauer about Three Cups of Tea (2007) and Stones into Schools (2009) author Greg Mortenson. In it, Krakauer disputes Mortenson's accounts of his experiences in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and accuses him of mishandling funds donated to his charity, Central Asia Institute ("CAI").

David Oliver Relin American writer

David Oliver Relin was an American journalist and the co-author of the New York Times bestselling book, Three Cups of Tea, published in 2006. Relin co-wrote the book with Greg Mortenson. The book gives Mortenson's account of his transition from registered nurse and mountain-climber to humanitarian committed to reducing poverty and promoting education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Haldi, Baltistan Village in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

Haldi also Halde or Huldi is a village in Ghanche District of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Haldi is historic village of Baltistan, which is located at the meeting place of Saltoro river and Hushe River 28 km from district centre Khaplu.

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