Three Cups of Tea: One Manís Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time


In Three Cups of Tea Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin tell the story of Mortensonís stunning transformation from mountain-climber to passionate humanitarian. The writers give us a character who is at once extraordinary and deeply human.

While hiking in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the same territories that gave birth to the Taliban, Mortenson is confronted with the needs of children, particularly girls, who have no school. Deeply moved, he vows to return and build them a school himself.

Most of us can easily imagine being deeply affected when confronting the needs of children as he did. Probably many of us can even imagine entertaining the idea that we really need to do something to improve the situation. But how many of us would actually return to this forbidding terrain and build not one, but fifty-five schools for girls? How many of us confront extreme need and misery and respond so concretely, with powerful conviction that ends up changing the world?

The most obvious change Mortenson makes is that now these girls can go to school. Their lives are filled with a whole new set of opportunities, and these authors show the girls as they begin to see themselves differently. But thereís another contribution Mortenson and Relin make here as writers. They invite readers into the Muslim world, a world that has been painted with a terribly broad brush for Westerners, especially after 9-11, so that many North Americans regard Muslims as fanatical, dangerous people. Mortenson and Relin reveal not only the humanity of the people from this part of the world, but also the humbling generosity, and the deeply spiritual orientation that gives them the strength to make Mortensonís mission possible. Without the Muslim men as guides, without their help with physical labor and their knowledge of the landscape, Mortenson could have done nothing.

Mortenson is both a man building schools, and an ambassador of peace. He shows how deep change happens on a personal level, between individuals, and how those changes reverberate throughout an entire culture. These two writers have educated us all about a part of the world our own culture has attempted to demonize. Through this important book we all get to share Mortensonís intimate view, a view so deeply rooted in knowledge and compassion, thereís little room left for fear.

óJane McCafferty, 2007 finalist judge

2007 Nonfiction Runner-Up

(Click play to see acceptance speech at awards dinner.)

Greg Mortenson (left) and David Oliver Relin
Three Cups of Tea: One Manís Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time

Greg Mortenson is the director of the Central Asia Institute. A resident of Montana, he spends several months each year in Pakistan and Afghanistan. For additional information about Greg, visit his website and for more information about his foundation, Central Asia Institute, visit

David Oliver Relin is a contributing editor for Parade Magazine and Skiing Magazine. He has won more than forty national awards for his work as a writer and editor, including Time magazine - An Asia Book of The Year 2006, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award 2006, and Banff Mountain Book Award Finalist 2006.


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