2008

The Reading Committee chose Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin for the First Pages Program.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Cover

In Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time, Greg Mortenson and journalist David Oliver Relin, recount the journey that led Mortenson from a failed 1993 attempt to climb Pakistan's K2, the world's second highest mountain, to successfully establish schools in some of the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. By replacing guns with pencils, rhetoric with reading, Mortenson combines his unique background with his intimate knowledge of the third-world to promote peace with books, not bombs, and successfully bring education and hope to remote communities in central Asia. Three Cups of Tea is at once an unforgettable adventure and the inspiring true story of how one man really is changing the world-one school at a time.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Greg Mortenson

Greg Mortenson is the co-founder of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute www.ikat.org, founder of Pennies For Peace www.penniesforpeace.org, and co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea www.threecupsoftea.com which has been a New York Times bestseller since its January 2007 release, and was Time Magazine's Asia Book of the Year.

Mortenson was born in Minnesota in 1957. He grew up on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (1958 to 1973). His father Dempsey, co-founded Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) www.kcmc.ac.tz a teaching hospital, and his mother, Jerene, founded the International School Moshi www.ismoshi.org.

He served in the U.S. Army in Germany during the Cold War (1977-1979), where he received the Army Commendation Medal, and later graduated from the University of South Dakota (1983), and pursued graduate studies in neurophysiology.

On July 24th, 1992, Mortenson's younger sister, Christa, died from a massive seizure after a lifelong struggle with epilepsy on the eve of a trip to visit Dysersville, Iowa, where the baseball movie, Field of Dreams, was filmed in a cornfield. In 1993, to honor his sister's memory, Mortenson climbed Pakistan's K2, the world's second highest mountain in the Karakoram range. After K2, while recovering in a local village called Korphe, Mortenson met a group of children sitting in the dirt writing with sticks in the sand, and made a promise to help them build a school.

From that rash promise, grew a remarkable humanitarian campaign, in which Mortenson has dedicated his life to promote education, especially for girls, in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As of 2008, Mortenson has established over 78 schools in rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide education to over 28,000 children, including 18,000 girls, where few education opportunities existed before.

His work has not been without difficulty. In 1996, he survived an eight day armed kidnapping in the Northwest Frontier Province NWFP tribal areas of Pakistan, escaped a 2003 firefight with feuding Afghan warlords by hiding for eight hours under putrid animal hides in a truck going to a leather-tanning factory. He has overcome two fatwehs from enraged Islamic mullahs, endured CIA investigations, and also received hate mail and death threats from fellow Americans after 9/11, for helping Muslim children with education.

Mortenson is a living hero to rural communities of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where he has gained the trust of Islamic leaders, military commanders, government officials and tribal chiefs from his tireless effort to champion education, especially for girls.

He is one of few foreigners who has worked extensively for fifteen years (spending over 67 months) in the region now considered the front lines of the war on terror.

David Oliver Relin

David Oliver Relin is lucky enough to live in Portland, Oregon. He is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time, which was named nonfiction winner of the 2007 Kiriyama Prize, 2007 Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Book Of The Year, Time Magazine's Asia Book Of the Year, People Magazine's Critic's Choice, and a BookSense Notable Title.

Relin is a graduate of Vassar and was awarded the prestigious Teaching/Writing Fellowship at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. After Iowa, he received a Michener Fellowship to support his groundbreaking 1992 bicycle trip the length of Vietnam. He spent two additional years reporting about Vietnam opening to the world, while he was based in Hue, Vietnam's former imperial capital. In addition to Vietnam and Pakistan, he has traveled to, and/or reported from, much of East Asia.

For two decades, Relin has focused on reporting about social issues and their effect on children, both in the U.S., and around the world. He is currently a Contributing Editor for Parade. For his work as both an editor and investigative reporter, he has won dozens of national awards. His interviews with child soldiers (including a profile of teenager Ishmael Beah, who would later write the bestseller A Long Way Gone) have been included in Amnesty International reports. And his investigation into the way the Immigration and Nationalization Service abused children in its custody contributed to the reorganization of that agency.

Relin is currently working on a documentary film about Sherpa mountain climbers. He is also at work on a book about food, a children's book with the artist Amy Ruppel, and a novel about Vietnam.