July 09, 2015

Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson

I enjoyed the first book, Three Cups of Tea, much more than I enjoyed this one.  This one just seemed a little too self-congratulatory for my taste.  Sure, promote yourself, but don't do it in a way that comes across as bragging, which is kind of what this one did.  That being said, it did offer some interesting insights into the way foreign government is run and the hazards and tribulations that charities can run into.

After Three Cups of Tea, Stones Into Schools takes up the story of where Mortenson left off building schools with his newly formed charity Central Asia Institute.  He expands into Afghanistan and still maintains services in Pakistan, building schools in the most remote areas of the countries.  The book covers how he worked with locals, officials, and got all of these projects off the ground.  It also talked about the small staff he hired and their job duties.

Greg is very much in favor of himself.  And he has done some wonderful things, he has a reason to be.  But the way he narrated it in this book was off-putting and show-boaty, ,and it didn't really leave you liking him for those reasons.  It could just be my personal take on it, but I felt like he was almost exaggerating when he described the different experiences he had and how he handled them.  He was fair to everyone else though and you could tell he appreciated the people he was helping.  And he also liked his staff and thought they had wonderful skills.  So he redeems himself in that way.

You learn a lot about local politics in the regions in this book.  The paperwork, the troubles, the bribing that needs to happen to get things done.  It's a little mind boggling actually.  And then there's how cheap it is to build a school.  Often it isn't as much as a wing would be on a school here in the United States.  They just want so much to learn, they'll study anywhere, including an old public toilet (according to the book).   There is a nice section of pictures in the middle of the book, in case you want to see some of the people/places that Mortenson talks about.

Overall it was ok, but I could have preferred less grand-standing.  Three Cups of Tea is definitely the book to read if you're going to read any of his books.

Stones into Schools
Copyright 2009
420 pages

No comments:

Post a Comment