The first part of the book is an adventure tale, the story of mountain climber Greg Mortenson. He attempts and fails to climb one of the world's toughest mountains (located in Pakistan). A local village nurses him to health and, as a result of his time there, Greg devotes his life to building schools for the impoverished children of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The schools focus on non-extremist education and providing resources for girls. This adventure story slips by quickly for me; I can hardly put the book down. Here is a quote (and source of the book's name) from Haji Ali, Korphe village Chief (the village where Greg was taken in), "Here, we drink three cups of tea to do business; the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend, and the third, you join our family, and for our family we are prepared to do anything - even die."
Then the story collides with 9-11, and the reading goes much slower for me. It's a sad, sad tale for me to read how the events of 9-11 harm not only us, but also the innocents in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is eye-opening to read reports of the experience from an "insiders" perspective, meaning the Muslim people of the remotest villages.
The book carries a political message, one with which I agree. The message is this: Providing education to the children is a more powerful and longer-lasting way to combat terrorism and foster peace than bombs will ever be.
I will express some discomfort with the amount of time Greg leaves his family and the risks he takes along the way. But that is not for me to judge; it is between Greg and his wife.
Regardless of your beliefs and politics related to this matter, anyone who enjoys tea will appreciate how frequently tea appears in the book. I lost track of my count of the number of different styles of tea referenced. It is a fascinating study!
I highly encourage you to read the book and form your own opinions of Greg's mission.