Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stones Into Schools - January Book Club pick review

Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson is the sequel to Three Cups of Tea and if you like the first then you will like this as well. Some of my immediate impressions after reading this is that the author seems to have changed a bit or perhaps he's been a bit groomed, not sure. Two things that stand out or three perhaps is that unlike the first book he never once prays in this one although he does say Asalaamu Alaikum a lot. Of course he is not a muslim but the fact that he prayed in the first one and there was a certain I don't know rawness about him, it just seems sad that he seems to lose that in this journey of his life. Also when he speaks of the Taliban he doesn't have even one good thing to say about them. I disagree with this type of thing although maybe its what the majority of his audience expects from him. Since no one is 100% of anything I find it unfair not to point out any postives ie eradicating the poppy farms. A new thing he seems bent on too in this book and his promotional material is lowering the birth rate in these countries; Afghanistan and Pakistan. It could be due to high infant death rate and lack of medical care that he makes this case but one wonders if there are other reasons as he doesn't say this is a good idea to be implemented until things change but only that they should be. What I liked about the book was that there were many touching moments and very fascinating historical accounts of the region going back to Alexander the Great and the Silk Road. Also an inside view of the corruption going on in these countries and different factions. Shown as well was the poverty, suffering and lack of basics like medicine and hospitals. I think that Greg is doing a good job with his school building but the idea of a secular education which he believes will fight terrorism is short-sighted. What is also needed is a real islamic education so that barbaric practises like "bride price" or being against girls' education are eradicated. Qurans in local languages are needed to counteract false information given at madrassahs where only reading Quran in arabic is stressed without understanding or just false lies being taught. It would do a world of good too if Greg would actually sit down and read the Quran and sift through the difference between their cultural practices and actual islamic ordinances.

Hope you all read it too. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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