This book has had great recommendations and widespread publicity. Nonetheless, some may imagine that it is political, religious, dull, or predictable. It is none of these. A well-written account of Mortensen’s amazing journey from world-class mountain climber to bridge-builder with fellow human beings in remote corners of Pakistan and Afghanistan, this is a riveting story and an amazing view into the lives and conditions of people we have been asked to call our enemies.
Beginning well before these areas were part of the daily news and conversation of people in the U.S., Greg Mortensen stumbled into the village of Korphe in northern Pakistan after losing his equipment, direction, and companions in an attempted assent of K2, the second highest mountain in the Himalayas. There, he found help and care. He also found his life’s mission, and has spent the years since then building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan where schools were non-existent or too ramshackle for year-round use. He has emphasized education for girls as well as boys in all his projects, and he has made friends of the people and leaders in the areas where he has worked. This is a riveting, harrowing, and moving story about one human being who, with help from many others, has forged connections that could in fact change the world. Mortensen has taken what I believe is the best of the American spirit and represented us in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the most positive ways. His book has certainly changed the way many of us understand our relationship to the challenges of extremism in the Muslim world. You will never regret picking up this book.