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Three Cups of Tea; Promoting Peace: One School At A Time

Updated on April 23, 2015
Greg Mortenson and Friends
Greg Mortenson and Friends

A Review of Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson

"A Template For Peace" -Bloomsbury Review

What a novel way to promote peace . . . one school at a time—in Pakistan and Northwest Afghanistan! Greg Mortenson is an American, on a mission to build schools for kids (often girls) who have never seen a school.

He didn'tset out to promote peace, or to become a political activist. He just wanted to return a series of unselfish acts of kindness showered on him by residents of Korphe, a tiny village tucked in a remote mountain valley, high in Pakistan's Karakoram Range.

Greg, a mountaineer, got separated from fellow climbers after an unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second highest mountain. Fatigued, suffering the effects of altitude sickness, and extremely weak, he took a wrong turn. Almost dead, he lost his pack and all his supplies. In the dark, he stumbled up a side valley, and spent a miserable night without food, water, or shelter. He would have died had the villagers not discovered him.

While recovering in Korphe Greg discovered the children had no school. Only a few boys had access to schools "down below." No girls went to school. Greg was so moved, that he promised to return and build them a school.

That was 1993. Remarkably, Greg kept his promise. He returned to the US and began raising funds. That story, and the challenge involved, is fascinating in itself. But the story of how he returned to Pakistan, purchased supplies, and got them up to the village is remarkable. They even had to build a bridge across a chasm to get the materials into Korphe.

But once the school was built, Greg didn't stop. He kept building schools. Since then, he's built over 78 schools, which cater to 28,000 kids, including 18,00 girls -- most in the volatile northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan.

Why? Because he could see the desperate need for schools and education among these impoverished, yet kind and caring villagers. And because he saw Saudi-funded Taliban recruiters building Madrassas (schools for young Jihaddists). That's when his kindness became a mission: to promote peace… one school at a time.

Co-written with David Oliver Relin, Three Cups of Tea became a #1 New York Times bestseller. It's won a dozen prizes and been nominated for dozens more. This year Greg will be awarded the Sitara-e-Pakistan “Star of Pakistan” (Pakistan’ highest civilian award).

US News anchorman, Tom Brokaw, who gave Greg his first $500 towards the Korphe school says, "Three Cups of Tea is one of the most remarkable adventure stories of our time. Greg Mortenson’s dangerous and difficult quest to build schools in the wildest parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan is not only a thrilling read, it’s proof that one ordinary person, with the right combination of character and determination, really can change the world."

This a great human interest story. It is also a great action and adventure story. I have not yet a single person who's read it who has not loved it. I highly recommend it.

Greg is Executive Director of the nonprofit Central Asia Insitute, and founder of Pennies for Peace. He lives in the western US with his wife and children.


For more of Bruce's writing, please visit his HubPages profile.


The Bridge

The School at Korphe

Greg With Book Club at Borders


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    • Bruce Elkin profile imageAUTHOR

      Bruce Elkin 

      10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Thanks, again, for an insight comment, Kartika. It is a great book. Compared to the 80 plus schools this fellow has built, the Canadian army has only completed 5, in the 9 years they've been in Afghanistan. Quite the accomplishment, I'd say.


    • kartika damon profile image

      kartika damon 

      10 years ago from Fairfield, Iowa

      So nice to read this review - I love this book! It has so much to teach us about creating a better world and actually using the power of connecting with people and building things to build bridges instead of thinking we have to go to war to change to world! Kartika

    • Bruce Elkin profile imageAUTHOR

      Bruce Elkin 

      10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Hi Christine. Thanks for your comment. Greg, and his family have paid a cost. But I think, in the end, the rewards are worth it, to them and to the kids they help. My father was a missionary/minister and tended to give it all away. I lacked as a kid, but I grew up with a model of giving, and it's guided me ever since. Thanks again!

    • profile image

      Christine G. 

      10 years ago

      This book both inspired and depressed me. Greg has done the impossible, but at great personal cost. We all want to be heroes, but very few dare to pay the price.

      His method of fighting terrorism may seem naïve and simplistic to some, but Greg has put his life on the line to take action. This is a book everyone should read.

    • Bruce Elkin profile imageAUTHOR

      Bruce Elkin 

      10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Yes, Becca. THat's why I love them, too. And the one step at a time process is so so important. Most people don't get that. They want success, now. And give up their dream if it doesn't come easy to them. I know the feeling; I've experienced it. But books like this inspire me to take action one step at a time, or "poco a poco" (little by litte) as my Mexcian friends advise me. THanks for stopping by and commenting. Much appreciate!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thank you, Bruce - I love stories like this one because they show us all what we can accomplish when we clarify our dreams and begin to make them a reality, one step at a time.

    • Bruce Elkin profile imageAUTHOR

      Bruce Elkin 

      10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Hey, Thanks, Tom. It is a wonderful book, and your question about what if he'd succeeded in the climb and never went to Korphe puts the whole thing in perspective. Much appreciated!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for writing this summary. I read this book last year and it is the most inspiring book I've ever read. Greg Mortenson deserves all the support and accolades he receives. He and his small support group have managed to do more than entire nations to bring about tremendous change in very difficult geographical and cultural environments. Just think, if he had successfully completed his K-2 climb, he would have only been one more successful climber who the limited world of extreme climbers would applaud. Now, nations applaud and marvel at his efforts and accomplishments. That's passionate action and Simply Success.

    • Bruce Elkin profile imageAUTHOR

      Bruce Elkin 

      10 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Shalini, Tom - thanks so much for your supportive feedback. I don't do the story or Greg justice in my short review. Or his coauthor. It really is a wonderful book, reads well, and truly gets you thinking.  Again, thanks!

    • Tom Rubenoff profile image

      Tom rubenoff 

      10 years ago from United States

      This is a wonderful account of courage, compassion and ethics. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 

      10 years ago from India

      One of the most touching stories I've heard! Just one man, one step at a time and what change he seems to have brought about - thumbs up Bruce for bringing this story to our notice! If only more of us were like Greg....


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