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Why Three Cups of Tea Remains a Best Seller

12/2/09 update. I am beginning my read of Stones into Schools, Greg’s new book.  Click here for details.

10/6/09 update.  Via Twitter, Greg Mortenson shared this resource:  “www.registan.net Excellent insightful web and commentary on Central Asia & Afghanistan – especially east / north Afghanistan where we serve.”

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On Memorial Day 2009, as I listened to the holiday’s related programming featuring veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan on KUSP-FM/Santa Cruz, I was reminded of why Three Cups of Tea remains a best-selling book.

As a Navy Mom for Peace, I especially appreciated being invited to hear author Greg Mortenson speak at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey on 5/12. Mortenson is, of course, the author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace, One School at a Time, which remains on the New York Times Bestseller List after more than 115 weeks.

In his NPS talk before a large audience at King Hall, two days after Mother’s Day, Mortenson explained a reason many people are unaware of as to why it promotes peace when we partner with local residents of Pakistan and Afghanistan to build schools, especially for girls: in the Koran, when a young man goes on a jihad, he first has to get permission and blessing from his mother. If the mother has an education, she is much less likely to condone her son pursuing a path of violence or committing acts of terrorism.

General David Petraeus has recognized the essential wisdom of Mortenson’s recommendations to build relationships, listen more, and have more humility and respect if we are to secure peace. Three Cups of Tea is required reading for top Pentagon officers and many other military personnel.

As is his policy, Mortenson declined an honorarium from the Navy School for his 5/12 presentations (besides his King Hall talk, he also addressed classes that day).  Mortenson, and his nonprofit Central Asia Institute, could certainly use the money.  Yet he recognizes that being associated with the American government, especially its military, would affect his credibility in Central Asia.

Greg Mortenson is a humble individual doing critical work. I appreciate Jim and Cindy McGillen, founders of the Carmel Authors and Ideas Festival, for providing me an earlier opportunity to hear Mortenson speak, and I encourage others to visit his website for a schedule of talks and other info.

This post was published on 3 June 2009. One or more changes last made to this post on 19 July 2017.

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