Had to weigh in on a book I read recently - Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.
The book tells the true story of Greg Mortenson, a man who started out as a mountain climber and ended up as an international agent for peace in the Middle East. As a young man, Mortenson was addicted to mountain climbing. A registered nurse, he'd work stateside until he'd saved up enough money for his next big climb. He'd climb until his money ran out, head back to the U.S., get a job, and start the process again.
However, after losing his way on the way down from a climb in Pakistan, Mortenson found himself in a small mountain village with no school. The kids there met in a cave, only had a teacher three days a week, and still found the will to keep studying. Mortenson promised the village leaders that one day he'd return and build them a proper school for their children.
That promise began a long and arduous journey that has led Mortenson to build fifty-five schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has also allowed him to forge a rock-solid relationship with many people in two countries where, it is said, the citizenry thirsts for American blood.
Mortenson's story is amazing. It proves that one person really can make a difference. So much of what he has done has been with little or no thought to his personal gain. He just saw a need and wanted to help fill it. In the process, he's gone a long way towards improving not only the image of Americans in the Middle East, but the lives of a good number of Middle Easterners.
The book is well-written, and the tale is riveting. Worth reading.