Monday, February 23, 2009

“Enemy of the State” by Michael A. Newton and Michael P. Scharf – The Trial and Execution of Saddam Hussein

Like most Americans, my awareness was murky, at best, of the chain of events that transpired between the time that Saddam Hussein was disinterred from his “spider hole” to his ignominious execution by hanging. I was vaguely aware that there had been a much-publicized trial that was marred by outbursts from Hussein and his co-defendants. I recall comments by the media that the court was either a puppet of the U.S. occupation force or a “kangaroo court” cobbled together as a fig leaf to cover raw revenge on the part of the dictator’s Iraqi enemies and victims.

Michael A. Newton and Michael P. Scharf have provided an important service in setting the record straight – not only about the trial of Saddam Hussein, but of the steps that led to the establishment of the tribunal that sat in judgment of him. Both authors worked behind the scenes in advising those who set up the Iraqi High Tribunal and guiding the intricate blending together of Iraqi domestic law and international law that governed the trial. Theirs is a straight-forward and illuminating peek inside the proverbial tent that housed the trial and execution of the Iraqi despot.

It became clear to me in reading the authors’ account of the last months of Saddam Hussein’s life, that his trial was not the three-ring circus and rush to judgment that some of the global media have portrayed it to be. Neither was it the flawless exercise of judicial probity and restraint that the new Iraq government and their supporters hoped it could be. The messy truth of how it played itself out is a compelling story and important historical footnote.

Despite the best efforts of U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to withhold support and counsel to the Iraqi jurists, there were some recognized experts in international law who made themselves available to the Iraqi judges, who under Saddam’s regime had been kept hermetically sealed off from developments in the field of jurisprudence outside of Iraq. There was a need for them to be given a quick remedial course in how to apply international law and judicial practice to the trial of Saddam.

“They knew that they were unprepared for the rigors that lay ahead. Saddam had prevented Iraqi lawyers from traveling abroad to learn the detailed provisions of modern international criminal law. Iraqis were often embarrassed that the regime had kept them from staying abreast of the latest developments of the integrated body of law that had developed since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. The trainers in London were notable experts in the complex body of international law that would need to be used by the Iraqis.

The judges were attentive both in large groups and in the small working groups. This week of training was followed by a mock trial held at Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as more training at the International Institute fro Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences in Siracusa, Italy. The tribunal investigators had a special training session dedicated to their unique needs held in Bornemouth, England. The director of the RCLO [Regime Crimes Liaison Office] at the time, Greg Kehoe, helped to arrange and fund these training events. Kehoe, an American, is a booming man with an imposing presence. He believed that the Iraqis could deliver a fair and independent trial. ‘The whole process is very important for reestablishing the rule of law in Iraq,’ he would say. ‘The trials not only have to be fair, but also have to be seen to be fair. A rush to judgment would do nothing to restore the Iraqis’ faith in the rule of law.’ These aspirations would be put to the test in the Baghdad courtroom almost exactly two years later.” (Page 73)

It became clear to me in reading the account of what happened during the trial that despite the best efforts on the part of the judges and their cohort of international advisors, there were times when the decorum of the courtroom devolved into slapstick comedy and farce. Saddam, taking a page from the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, frequently used the trial as a platform for long rants and dramatic diversions. Milosevic had been allowed to represent himself in his trial, thereby giving him unlimited opportunities to address the court. Saddam was not allowed to represent himself, but under Iraqi law, a defendant is able to address and question witnesses after their testimony and cross-examination has been completed. This loophole is one that Saddam employed throughout the trial to create the very circus atmosphere the judges had hoped to avoid.

The authors spent a considerable amount of time comparing and contrasting the trial of Saddam with the infamous Nuremberg trials that brought to justice leaders of the Third Reich. In this excerpt, they discuss the relationship between Saddam’s trial and execution and the trial and death by suicide of Hermann Goring:

“Incredibly, the flickering images managed to lend an eerie air of dignity to the death of one of the cruelest and most calculating tyrants of his era. Saddam was a cold-blooded murderer whose narcissism dominated a nation. There is no question that the conduct of the executions will always cloud the historic perception fo the fairness and legitimacy on the Iraqi High Tribunal. But the abysmally implemented execution cannot overshadow the Iraqi-led process that riveted the region for over a year. Nuremberg is not judged today based on Goring’s success at frustrating Robert Jackson’s cross-examination or cheating the hangman.” (Pages 214-215)

In drawing a final parallel between Nuremberg and the trial of Saddam for the atrocities committed at Dujail, the authors sound a note of caution about we must – in a post-9/11 world – conduct the war against terror in a way that is consistent with the rule of law:

“In thinking about these questions, it may be helpful to consider the seminal passage form the classic film, in which the judge played by Spencer Tracy delivers the tribunal’s judgment: ‘This trial has shown that under a national crisis, ordinary, even able and extraordinary men can delude themselves into the commission of crimes against humanity. How easily it can happen. There are those in our country too that today speak of the protection of country, of survival. A decision must be made in the life of every nation, at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat; then it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival on what is expedient, to look the other way. Only the answer to that is – survival as what? A country isn’t a rock; it’s not an extension of one’s self. It’s what it stands for. It’s what it stands for when it standing for something is the most difficult.’

As these stirring words suggest, the legal issues at the core of both the Alstoetter trial and the Dujail trial is relevant to the United States and its allies, which today find themselves in a ‘war on terrorism.’ Where is the line to be drawn between those actions that can be justified by the necessities of such a war and those that are criminal? This may be the most important legal question of our generation.” (Pages 215-216)

By pointing out the very practical ramifications of the decisions that will need to continue to be made – in Iraq and at home in the U.S. – to combat ongoing threats of terrorism, the authors added a much-needed cautionary voice. This book is a worthwhile read for anyone who is willing to wrestle with the complexities of what it has meant and continues to mean for the U.S. to involve itself with regime change in Iraq.

Friday, February 20, 2009

“Inauspicious Times” by Appadurai Muttulingam – A Tiny Treasure Chest of Tamil Tales

Little did I know when I met Appadurai Muttulingam at a wedding on Nantucket a few summers ago what benefits would accrue from that new relationship. It turns out that this fascinating gentleman is an accomplished and gifted writer, who has penned over 100 short stories in his native Tamil language, as well as essays and interviews. After several earlier attempts to find a satisfactory way to translate his stories into English, he has partnered with Padma Narayanan to produce a thoroughly delightful English translation of 14 of his stories. The book is published under the title “Inauspicious Times.”

This tiny volume is worth its weight in gold. I found it to be thoroughly delightful, enlightening and engaging. The common thread among the stories is that the reader is invited to see the world through the unblinking eyes of men, women, boys and girls who are all struggling to survive day-to-day in “inauspicious times” - in settings as diverse as Somalia, Sri Lanka, U.S., Canada, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kenya. Author and translator have combined forces seamlessly to present stories told in a minimalist style that I found very appealing and refreshing. Simple events, gestures, words and coincidences are woven together to create a tapestry that highlights the universality of the human experience – transcending geography, culture, language and socio-economic status.

In his introduction, the author opens with an apt metaphor that grabbed my attention from the opening lines:

“For many years I have been buying and planting hydrangeas in my garden. I buy plants with pink flowers and plant them in the garden and the flowers promptly turn blue. In some instances the blue flowers change into pink on their own without any help from me. The plant actually stays the same and it is the acidity of the soil that changes the colour into blue or pink. It took years for me to realise this . . . All I have done in this collection is to plant the seed. Whether it will turn pink or blue in the hands of the readers, I cannot say.” (pages 9-10)

The thought that Mr. Muttulingam expresses in these introductory remarks strikes me as quintessentially Asian. In his recent book, “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell makes the point that there is a marked difference between East and West in terms of expectation of responsibility in communication. In Western cultures, it is assumed that it is the responsibility of the sender of a message to ensure that the message is sent and understood clearly. Conversely, in many Asian cultures, the responsibility rests with the recipient of the message to plumb the depth of meaning. The author of “Inauspicious Times,” is telling me that the “acidity” of my heart and world view will determine whether I see his stories and his characters as “pink or blue.”

In keeping with this metaphor, the author paints his characters and settings in muted pastel tones, using a very light touch. Like all good artists, he often uses “negative space” to enhance the portrait that he is painting. In one story, for example, it is an unopened letter that ends up conveying more information that would have been available to the reader if the contents of the letter had been explicitly revealed. The effect is striking and indelible.

I loved the first story, “The Camel.” In this tale, the writer uses the opposite of anthropomorphism, attributing the attributes of a camel to his protagonist, the Somali woman, Maimoon. She is like the camels that surround her - in her gait, in her role as a beast of burden, in her ability to walk long distances in the desert without water. She ends up being sold into a loveless marriage for the price of 50 camels. Her story is told as through the unblinking lens of a camera. Life is hard and full of trials and tribulations. The skeleton of an infant that died along with its mother is described unemotionally as part of the landscape. Life is hard. Death is part of life.

In “Black Squirrel,” another protagonist mimics the attributes of an animal. Like the black squirrel he observes gathering nuts, Lohidasan “squirrels away” the coins he gathers up that are dropped each day by the patrons of the parking lot that he passes on his way home from work. This simple tale shines a light on the lives of quiet desperation being lived by thousands of immigrant day laborers in Canada.

Let me share some of the subtle beauty of the writing that fills the pages of this thin volume. In the story entitled, “The Cotton Flower,” a minor official in the Water Resources Department in Sudan is an ex-patriot from Sri Lanka. He loses his post because he diverted an irrigation canal in order to provide water for a struggling widow. Upon learning that he has been fired, he goes to pay a final visit to the widow:

“Ehdiram was delighted to see him. The cotton plants had grown tall and were covered with bunches of flowers. As far as is eyes could see, the plants filled the area and looked like a thousand women bent down, their heads adorned with white flowers. Would anyone believe that this place had been an arid land a few months ago? When the wind blew in spirals, the cotton plants swayed slightly and fanned away the heat.

The old woman’s face was as happy as a young girl’s. ‘What is it, Waldih? Why does your face look so sad?’ Ehdiram brought some kekkde for him to drink, well sweetened with kenana sugar. The woman had never before addressed him as Waldih, meaning ‘dear son.’ The endearment had its effect on him. He had seen bullocks shiver with pleasure when rubbed on their backs. Gunasingam felt a similar shiver at the touch of the word 'Waldih.' He felt like crying his heart out. He felt peaceful at the same time. He took leave of the woman knowing it was the last time and went back to his office.” (Page 76)

The bottom line is that I was sad to find that I had read the last of the stories. I was hungry for more. It is my hope that Muttulingam and Narayanan will collaborate again soon to translate more of his existing Tamil language short stories into English. In the meanwhile, I encourage you to find this book (Available on and enjoy both the blue and the pink flowers that you will see in the garden of your imagination.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Different Look at the Bailout Phenomenon – A Manifesto for Taking Care of Our Veterans by Alex Gallo

In yesterday’s Newsvine, Alex Gallo, wrote a compelling piece about the disconnect between our government’s willingness to bailout bankers, but appalling failure to “bailout” our veterans.

Alex’s argument is flawlessly reasoned and supported. Apropos of Presidents’ Day, he begins with a relevant quotation from George Washington and concludes with one equally germane by Lincoln.

"The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of early wars were treated and appreciated by our nation."

- George Washington

"Any nation that does not honor its hero's will not long endure."

- Abraham Lincoln

Let me offer as an excerpt the final three paragraphs from Gallo’s fine piece:

“Instead of pushing billions to the economic giants in our society, we should use a portion of those billions to set up a world-class national traumatic brain injury and warrior mental health center. The Fallen Heroes Foundation is currently beginning the process of raising money to establish a traumatic brain injury center. While this is an extremely honorable gesture, it, once again, highlights the gap between those who serve in combat and the people they protect. Coincidentally, there is an economic term to describe this phenomenon – freeriding. We cannot allow "the people" to become disconnected from those who protect our democratic society.

The sacrifice is not over for those who are serving in our armed forces. General Odinero, the ground forces commander in Iraq, has stated that he would like to see at least 35,000 – 40,000 troops remain in Iraq (approximately the same number of troops that are currently deployed in Afghanistan) through 2015. If this occurs, then the Iraq War will have gone on longer under Obama than under Bush – putting the political responsibility to care for the health of these warriors squarely on Obama. Furthermore, Ambassador Crocker has stated that the events for which the Iraq War will be remembered have yet to happen. This powerful statement underscores the tremendous sacrifice that our troops have yet to engage in. Moreover, President Obama has decided to “double down” in Afghanistan. There is an expected increase of approximately 30,000 more troops who will be deployed to this combat zone – troops whose deployment schedule will simply be re-routed from Iraq to Afghanistan. In short, the war continues, and our troops’ honorable and selfless service continues as well.

If we, as a nation, are going to ensure the preservation of our Republic, we must heed the words of General George Washington. We must prioritize our warriors – who selflessly take on risk to protect American society – before the corporate executives – who self-interestedly take on risk for their shareholders – not to mention themselves. Failure to heed George Washington’s advice – with an emergent nuclear Russia, a nuclear North Korea, an aggressing Iran, an unresolved peace between Palestine and Israel, and a nuclear driven Salafi-extremism – will present a greater threat to our geo-political and market stability than the current economic situation.”

I suggest that you click on the link below to read the entire article and then ask the question:

“What steps can I, as a citizen, take to address and to rectify this situation of our nation failing to meet the needs of its veterans?” Link

I welcome your comments.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Remembering Updike’s Eloquent Farewell to Ted Williams as We Greet the 2009 Baseball Season

The serious business of baseball’s Spring Training is under way in Ft. Myers, Florida and other less notable fields of dreams. In the midst of rumors of J.D. Drew’s perennial bad back, Big Papi’s promise to return to 2006 form, and palpitations about who will be able to catch Tim Wakefield’s salsa-dancing knuckle balls, I suggest we pause for a moment to reflect on the recent passing of John Updike, perhaps the most erudite and eloquent of all Red Sox fans (Stephen King is not even close!)

Updike has always been a mythical figure to me. I read his novels and short stories in prep school and college. I also knew him a bit. His first wife, Mary, sang in the Newburyport Choral Society. I was one of two high school age students admitted to this group, and I would often encounter Updike at our rehearsals, waiting to pick up Mary. The Updikes lived in the neighboring town of Ipswich. While I was still a member of the Choral Society, Updike created a sensation amongst the literati with his novel, Couples. It was a thinly-disguised roman a clef, chronicling in fictionalized form the secret lives and hidden liaisons of several couples in the mythical town of Tarbox, Massachusetts. Everyone knew it was really Ipswich. It was a bit titillating as a teenager to know that I recognized in the fictitious characters some of the denizens of Ipswich whom I knew in real life.

In 1960, on the occasion of Ted Williams’ last game as the splendid Red Sox left fielder, Updike captured the magic of the moment in what many consider to be the great piece of writing ever crafted about a baseball game. You have probably read it many times over the years. The New Yorker has reprinted it, and makes it available in its archives.

Here are the majestic opening and closing cadences:

“Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man’s Euclidean determinations and Nature’s beguiling irregularities.

Like a feather caught in a vortex, Williams ran around the square of bases at the center of our beseeching screaming. He ran as he always ran out home runs—hurriedly, unsmiling, head down, as if our praise were a storm of rain to get out of. He didn’t tip his cap. Though we thumped, wept, and chanted “We want Ted” for minutes after he hid in the dugout, he did not come back. Our noise for some seconds passed beyond excitement into a kind of immense open anguish, a wailing, a cry to be saved. But immortality is nontransferable. The papers said that the other players, and even the umpires on the field, begged him to come out and acknowledge us in some way, but he never had and did not now. Gods do not answer letters.”

I invite you to bask in the glory of the entire article. Follow this link to the New Yorker archives.

New Yorker Archive


We will never see the likes of Ted Williams again.

We may not see many like Updike again, either.

I will think about them both the next time I visit the Lyric Little Bandbox

Play ball!


"What Doesn't Break Us . . ." - Solid Gold CD from Daniel Hartzheim

Back in November I wrote a brief Blog posting about a new artist I had just met - Daniel Hartzheim:

November Hartzheim post

I have just secured a copy of his 2008 album, "What Doesn't Break Us . . ." It is stunning. Daniel's dusky voice is as light as a summer breeze. His lyrics offer the listener an invitation to meditate and join a profound inner journey. His keyboard riffs are magical and crystalline and Elton John-like in their complexity. This young artist has an unlimited future.

Let me share with you Daniel's thoughts as outlined on the album jacket:

"I am delighted to present to you this debut album of my most heart-felt songs intended to provide you more of an experience than mere background noise. I would suggest allowing yourself the courtesy of fully engaging your listening experience by putting aside any distraction. Grab a cup of coffee, find a quiet place, relax in your favorite chair, dim the lights and allow the music to take you somewhere familiar, albeit uncommon - someplace deep inside your person where anxiety is calmed and peace ensues. This is the atmosphere from which these songs were composed and into which I hope you enter. Where your peace is, there a song will be also. Enjoy!"

In the following thumbnail overview of his musical career you will find several suggestions for how to access his music on-line as well as places where you can purchase this album. You will be blessed if you do.

"Welcome to my artist profile @ Reverb Nation!

Reverb Nation Hartzheim Link

I have one official album (What Doesn't Break Us, 2008) for sale as mp3 download ( or hard copy ( I also have a TON of other music available for mp3 download ( that ranges from techno & electronica, to funk, trip-hop, cinematic score, & singer/songwriter.

Piano is my main instrument, which allows for a lot of keyboard creativity, but I also play some other instruments. I'm mostly from
California but I was born in the Northwest and now am studying music on the east coast! One day I plan to return to sunny California in pursuit of composing music for film.

I have an official website ( where the most complete updates are available, as well as the exhilarating social sites (Myspace & Facebook).

Well enjoy all the music and be sure to let me know which tunes are your favs! Please join the mailing list for announcements if you haven't done so already.

All the best!


Enjoy the gift that is Daniel's music.


Reminding Fans of "The Chicken Slacks" - Rockin' The CanTab Lounge Each Thursday

One of my favorite Boston-based bands is "The Chicken Slacks." Their new album, "Can You Dig It?" is a soulful romp through what feels like the archives of some of the great R&B, funk, blues and soul hits of the past half century with some nice originals thrown in. The vocals of "Diamond D" Durand Wilkerson will remind you of a bubbling bouillabaise spiced with a pinch of James Brown, a dollop of Sam Cook, a dash of Otis Redding, and a generous portion of Marvin Gaye.

The blend of Mike "The Hammer" Null on guitar, Curtis "The Reverend" Haynes on keyboards, Jeremy "Rude Boy" Valadez on Sax, Slick Rick Roscow on bass and Justin "Pops" Berthiaume on drums provides just the right launching pad for Diamond D's stirring song stylings.

Over the past several years, I have heard "The Chicken Slacks" live dozens of times, and have brought countless friends to hear and enjoy them. If you are in the neighborhood of the CanTab Lounge any Thursday night, stop by for a lively start to an early weekend.

CanTab Lounge

The new CD is available through the Chicken Slacks website and at any of their concerts.

Chicken Slacks

Enjoy! See you at the CanTab!


Monday, February 09, 2009

Talent Alert for the Boston Area - Director of Training and Corporate Learning

This is an exciting opportunity for the right person.

One of my client companies in the Boston area is a software/professional services firm that is looking to hire a Director of Training and Corporate Learning to establish a new department for training and to create a company-wide culture of learning.

At a time when many firms are cutting training budgets, this is a rare opportunity. The right person will have the sophistication to offer strategic level input into best practices and innovation, while being willing and able to create training tools for employees, vendors and the broader real estate valuation community.

Please pass this information to anyone you know who has a background in training and learning who may want to learn more details.

For details, e-mail me at:



Dr. Myra White - Book Signing and Discussion This Thursday at the Harvard Coop

Dr. Myra White, author of "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," will be at the Coop in Harvard Square this Thursday evening from 7:00-8:00 to sign her book and discuss its content with those in attendance.

Here is the link to my recent review of "Follow the Yellow Brick Road."




Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin - a Different Way to Fight Terrorism

It is the rare book that moves me first to grab a handkerchief, and then to grab my checkbook; “Three Cups of Tea” is such a book.

Jointly written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, “Three Cups of Tea” tells the implausible tale of Mortenson’s pilgrimage from barely surviving a failed attempt at scaling the summit of K2 to helping children in Asia to surmount the centuries of indifference to the need for education for the mountain people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This book, subtitled “One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time,” is a New York Times Bestseller for a myriad of reasons:

• The story itself is compelling and rare;
• The saga is inspirational and moving;
• The cast of characters are as colorful and memorable as the sun-splashed mountain peaks of the Karakoram or the Hindu Kush;
• Greg Mortenson’s personal story serves as a warm antidote to the sobering and numbing news of terrorist activity that hits us daily through the news media from the four corners of the globe;
• David Oliver Relin’s literary voice adds a layer of elegance to the telling of this story that raises it to an art from.

In many ways, as I read of Mortenson’s courage and maverick approach to living out his passion for educating the children of the “Upside,” I was remind of Charlie Wilson’s War – both wars waged in the same part of the world - near its roof. Wilson sought to arm the mujahadeen with missiles. Years later, Mortenson seeks to arm the offspring of these same mujahadeen with the weapons of literacy and education.

I am pleased to share a few brief excerpts from Mortenson’s pilgrimage and Relin’s prose. This first sample paints the picture of the topsy-turvy world that Mortenson found himself in as he prepared to travel from Rawalpindi, Pakistan to the village of Korphe to begin to build the first of what would become dozens of schools:

“Abdul’s knock came well before dawn. Mortenson had been lying awake, on his string bed, for hours. Sleep had been no match for the fear of all that, this day, could go wrong. He rose and opened the door, trying to make sense of the sight of a one-eyed man holding out a pair of highly polished shoes for his inspection.

They were his tennis shoes. Abdul had clearly spent hours while Mortenson slept mending, scrubbing, and buffing his torn and faded Nikes, trying to transform them into something more respectable. Something a man setting out on a long and difficult journey might lace up with pride. Abdul had transformed himself for the occasion, too. His usually silvery beard was dyed deep orange from a fresh application of henna.

Mortenson took his tea, then washed with a bucket of cold water and the last bit of Tibet Snow brand soap he’s been rationing all week. His handful of belongings only half-filled his old duffel bag. He let Abdul sling it over his shoulder, knowing the firestorm of offense he’s encounter if he tried to carry it himself, and bid his rooftop sweatbox a fond good-bye.

Conscious of his gleaming shoes, and seeing how much keeping up appearances pleased Abdul, Mortenson consented to hire a taxi for the trip to Rajah Bazaar. The black colonial-era Morris, flotsam abandoned in ‘Pindi by the ebbing tide of British empire, purled quietly along still-sleeping streets.” (Pages 70-71)

Greg Mortenson, facing long odds of fund-raising and staggering logistical and political roadblocks, succeeded in beginning to fulfill his promise to provide schools for the boys and girls of many of the remote village at the feet of the world tallest collection of mountain peaks. Not surprisingly, an American seeking to educate Muslim girls raised more than a few hackles, and a fatwah was issued against Mortenson by a local village cleric. Mortenson’s Pakistani allies suggested that they ask for the matter to be adjudicated by the Supreme Council in Qom, Iran. This excerpt reveals the outcome long-awaited verdict:

“With due ceremony, Syed Abbas tilted back the lid of the box, withdrew a scroll of parchment wrapped in red ribbon, unfurled it, and revealed Mortenson’s future. ‘Dear Compassionate of the Poor,’ he translated from the elegant Farsi calligraphy, ‘our Holy Koran tells us all children should receive education, including our daughters and sisters. Your noble work follows the highest principles of Islam, to tend to the poor and sick. In the Holy Koran there is no law to prohibit an infidel from providing assistance to our Muslim brothers and sisters. Therefore,’ the decree concluded, ‘we direct all clerics in Pakistan to not interfere with your noble intentions. You have our permission, blessings, and prayers.’” (Page 199)

In one of the books most moving chapters, the reader is able to grasp the fruits of Mortenson’s labor and vision. The granddaughter of Haji Ali, the Baltistan village chieftain of Korphe, who had saved the American’s life as he descended from K2, confronts Mortenson with her dream of what she would like to become, now that she has been offered an education and a window onto the wider world:

“Jahan took a breath and composed herself, ‘When I was a little sort of girl and I would see a gentleman or a lady with good, clean clothes I would run away and hide my face. But after I graduated from the Korphe School, I felt a big change in my life. I felt I was clear and clean and could go before anybody and discuss anything.’

‘And now that I am already in Skardu, I feel that anything is possible. I don’t want to be just a health worker. I want to be such a woman that I can start a hospital and be an executive, and look over all the health problems of all the women in the Braldu. I want to become a very famous woman in this area,’ Jahan said, twirling the hem of her maroon silk headscarf around her finger as she peered out the window past a soccer player sprinting through the drizzle toward a makeshift goal built of stacked stones, searching for the exact word with which to envision her future. ‘I want to be a . . . “Superlady,”’ she said, grinning defiantly, daring anyone, any man, to tell her she couldn’t.” (Page 313)

Mortenson’s work continues through the Central Asia Institute, with U.S. headquarters in Bozeman, Montana.

I encourage you to read this book. If you plan to purchase the book, buying it on-line through the following link will guarantee that 7% of the purchase price will be channeled to support the work of the Central Asia Institute.

Three Cups of Tea Website



P.S. FYI - Greg Mortensen will be speaking this coming Saturday morning, 10:30 AM, February 7 in Framingham, MA at an event sponsored by the Framingham Public Library:

Framingham Event