Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin

April 7, 2010
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I wish Greg Mortenson’s story was written by someone else. Mortenson is listed as one of the authors for this book, but I doubt that he wrote more than his acknowledgments. It is Relin who contributed the writing, and honestly, his style of prose is terrible. To sample his writing, here are a few sentences:

"He leaned over the side of the truck to request a stop and saw the top of the bearish assistant's close-cropped head stretching out the window, and beyond it, straight down fifteen hundred feet to the bottom of the rocky gorge, where a coffee-colored river foamed over boulders."

“And by the time the rising sun iced the hanging glaciers of Masherbrum pale pink, like a gargantuan pastry dangling above them at breakfast time, Mortenson had agreed to shift the funds his board had approved for the doomed Khane school upside to this village whose headman had traveled so far downriver to educate himself.”

This awkward poetic-wannabe writing does not suit this non-fiction book. The story seemed like it was buried under a fluff of adjectives and overwrought expressions, and I repeatedly found myself trying to dig past it.

Criticisms aside though, I greatly appreciate what Greg Mortenson has done. His mission to build schools and educate children in the mountainous and remote villages in Pakistan is remarkable and inspirational. Here is a man who is truly doing something about foreign policy. It is unfortunate that his story is told the way it is, but I personally found Mortenson’s deeds to triumph over the writing in the end. His actions speak louder than the words.





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