Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Selection

I didn't know Laredo had so many book clubs.  Could it be that the natives actually like to read?  Here's some news from one of those book clubs, the Gateway City Book Lovers Club.

If you prefer books with a more inspirational message, then the Gateway City Book Lover’s Club is for you.  This month, the club has selected “Stones into School” by Greg Mortenson.

“Mortenson’s best-seller, Three Cups of Tea (2009), introduced his commitment to peace through education and became a book-club phenomenon. He now continues the story of how the Central Asia Institute (CAI) built schools in northern Afghanistan. Descriptions of the harsh geography and more than one near-death experience impress readers as new faces join Mortenson’s loyal “Dirty Dozen” as they carefully plot a course of school-building through the Badakshan province and Wakhan corridor. Mortenson also shares his friendships with U.S. military personnel, including Admiral Mike Mullen, and the warm reception his work has found among the officer corps. The careful line CAI threads between former mujahideen commanders, ex-Taliban and village elders, and the American soldiers stationed in their midst is poetic in its political complexity and compassionate consideration. Using schools not bombs to promote peace is a goal that even the most hard-hearted can admire, but to blandly call this book inspiring would be dismissive of all the hard work that has gone into the mission in Afghanistan as well as the efforts to fund it. Mortenson writes of nothing less than saving the future, and his adventure is light years beyond most attempts. Mortenson did not reach the summit of K2, but oh, the heights he has achieved.” – Colleen Mondor

The Gateway City Book Lovers Club will meet on Wednesday, November 16, 2011, from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at the Laredo Public Library 1120 E. Calton Road, 1st floor conference room, to discuss this book.  The book is available for check-out at the Reference Desk at the Laredo Public Library.

Three Cups of Tea is a good read.  I truly found it inspiring how one man could have the determination to take on such a difficult task of building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I truly got the sense that the man (Greg Mortensen) was moving mountains.

But then controversy set in.

Details in his first book came into question, and the accounting of funds in his non-profit organization, the Central Asia Institute, has allegedly been lax, to put it mildly.  Apparently he was never kidnapped by the Taliban, as he wrote in his book;  And the story of being helped by villagers when he descended from K2 is not true. 

People don't contend that he's done great work for the children of Pakistan, but they call into question his motives and assertions.  Again, Three Cups of Tea is a great read.  I just hope people think twice about donating to his charity.  So with that in mind, check out Greg's second book, Stones Into Schools, and tell the Book Lovers Club that Keyrose sent you.

60 Minutes did a story on Greg's journey, warts and all.  Check it out, if you have the time.


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