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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

10. – 569.) Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin – Mortenson personifies the dedicated, near obsessive, power of the individual to do good. Barely escaping with his life from an climbing expedition on K2 in the 1990’s Mortenson, appreciating the hospitality of the small Balti village of Korphe “the last village before the land of eternal ice”, decides to build them a school after seeing children practising lessons, without a teacher or supplies beyond sticks, in an open field. The depth of his commitment is only matched by his naivete. For a man raised in Africa by parents on a Lutheran mission and working in big city hospitals he has a striking disregard for organizations.
            Returning to America he manages to raise the money on his own. No sophisticated fund raising schemes are involved. Sheer persistence is blessed by a mountaineering relationship.
            When he returns to Pakistan Mortenson learns the real importance of local support in Third World projects. Gradually he develops a Balti team and the school is built. As the project proceeds Mortenson gains greater insight into the educational needs of rural Pakistan and refines his focus to building schools concentrating on the education of girls.
Mortenson’s personal network reminded me how Rotarians use local Rotary clubs to work with on Community World Service projects. As Mortenson, through the Central Asia Institute, built schools in Baltistan, so our Rotary district 5550 has been building schools in an area of Guatemala in the Ripple Effect project. The best aid projects proceed through the local people.
            I was struck the lack of government regulation. There were neither permits nor licences nor approvals nor studies nor reviews needed by Mortenson before the schools are built.
            When he included Afghanistan in his efforts I thought of the school our Rotary zone is building to educate Afghani women.
            Mortenson describes the challenges of Afghani women seeking to resume education after the fall of the Taliban. Sharon and I met a young woman doctor in Saskatoon on a speaking tour who only completed her medical education after the Taliban were driven from power. She had been forced to stay home during the Taliban regime.
            Mortenson, as with Wiesenthal, an individual totally committed to his work does not adapt well to organization. They would just like money to be given to them for their projects and have the sponsors stay out of the way.
            I admire Mortenson’s courage and dedication. Having experienced Rotary I wonder if he could do more had he brought his dreams into a large service organization or whether his stubborn independence produced greater results.
            The Canadian military has been trying to win hearts in Afghanistan for a decade. Who will achieve more – Mortenson without a single gun or the projects supported by the powerful guns of Canada?
            The local support Mortenson received from Moslems across the region for the education of women gives me hope that the Taliban will not be allowed to regain power and stifle women. Excellent. (Feb. 15/11)

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