Greg Mortenson took a colossal failure and turned it into astounding success. The author of the New York Times number one bestelling "Three Cups of Tea" has just released a second book, "Stones Into Schools," a continuation of Mortenson's quest to bring peace to Pakistan and Afghanistan by forging alliances and building schools.
When "Three Cups of Tea" was released in 2006, it immediately became an grass-roots movement. Depending on word-of-mouth publicity, it skyrocketed up the New York Times list and has stayed there.Told in third person, the book chronicled Mortenson's failure to climb K2, the second highest peak in the world (after Mount Everest) and considered the most dangerous because of its almost vertical assent. Mortenson was climbing the mountain in tribute to his sister, who was mentally impaired and who had recently died of a massive seizure. He got lost on the mountain's glaciers, was found by a sherpa (local mountain guide), got lost again and wandered into a village. The locals embraced him, took care of him and nursed him back to health. In turn, he promised to come back and build a school for the village's girls, who faced a grim future without an education.
Mortenson didn't let lack of funding, construction experience or on-going violence stop him. He made good on his promise, eventually creating dozens of schools throughout Pakistan, forging alliances with village elders - one cup of tea at a time.
After word of his success spread, the shy Mortenson has become a much sought-after speaker, stepping way out of his comfort zone to raise money for his Central Asia Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to building schools in the most inhospitable areas of war-torn Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Last month, Mortenson released a new book called "Stones Into Schools," which was also the name of the last chapter of "Three Cups of Tea."
In "Stones," Mortenson takes over as storyteller, working in first person, adding a real punch to the stories. This time, Mortenson and his allies are working in war-torn Afghanistan, in spite of the Taliban and anti-American sentiment.
Mortenson will be at the Eisemann Center in Richardson (www.eisemanncenter.com - 972-744-4656) on Saturday, Feb. 6, telling his story two times, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets are from $175 to $50. The Eisemann is a great hall. Large enough to accomodate a good-size crowd, yet with an intimate feel.
It would be worth a trip into the city to see this gentle man who believes in books rather than bombs and education rather than annhiliation.
Catch my review of both books, photos from his visit to a Dallas area school and a synopsis of Mortenson's program in a February edition of your News-Telegram.
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