Reviewed by Judy Pask, Reference Librarian
As the subtitle says, this is the story of “one man’s mission to promote peace….one school at a time” in the mountainous regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Honoring a promise to build a school for a small village in Pakistan, Mortenson has found his lifetime work in planting the seeds of peace through education, and particularly the education of young Muslim girls.
Mortenson stumbled into the poor village of Korphe, high in Pakistan’s Karakoram Himalya region, tired and depressed after an unsuccessful climb to the summit of K2, the second highest mountain in the world, in 1993. The generosity of the villagers who nursed him back to health motivated him to promise his help in providing a school building. His promise evolved into an organization that has now built over 65 schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as numerous community projects such as women’s centers and water systems.
Learning how to work in the native culture as well as how to build such projects, he survived an 8-day armed kidnapping by the Taliban, escaped a 2003 firefight with feuding Afghan warlords and overcame two fatwehs from enraged Islamic mullahs for educating girls. His work demonstrates his belief that the war on terrorism is one of hearts and minds, not bullets and bombs, and that it can be won by providing young people with a non-extremist education. This bestseller is a very personal account of change in a region of the world that remains in the headlines.