Nonfiction — Large print. Thorndike, 2009.605 pgs. Library copy.
Following up on his wildly popular Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson picks up where the first book left off in 2003 and recounts his efforts to establish schools for girls in Afghanistan, in addition to the U.S. military’s integration and understanding of his attempts to promote literacy for Afghanistan and Pakistan’s poorest and young citizens, especially the girls. The book, told in first person, traces his work in Azad Kashmir after the massive earthquake in 2005 that devastated the region and the passion both Afghans and Pakistanis have for education and literacy.
It’s almost like Mortenson read my review of his first book and tailored this book around my criticisms because gone are the tedious full name references and “Mortenson says” and the tidbits about his life fit into the narrative rather than being long paths to nowhere. The focus of this narrative is on his work, particularly his introduction to Afghanistan and the expansion of the Central Asia Institute from Pakistan into this war torn, ethnically divided region.
As Mortenson points out on GoodReads and as I noticed while reading, the research was much more thorough and comprehensive than the first book. Rather than giving off the impression that the CAI stops working when he returns to Bozeman, Montana, Mortenson gives credit to those who work at ground zero for CAI long after Mortenson has returned stateside to promote Three Cups of Tea. He goes into great detail about the work Sarafraz does in Azad Kashmir after the earthquake and how the entire CAI learned how to be in the business of disaster relief. There is just so much more detail to Stones into Schools that I felt Three Cups of Tea was desperately missing, and it makes for a fascinating read.