Greg Mortenson’s story of perseverance in building schools for Pakistani children is admirable but the approach he used was incompete. 

To honor the death of his sister with Epilepsy, Christa, he attempts to leave the necklace she wore at the K2 summit in Pakistan, the most difficult mountain to climb in the world. He says, “He would leave an offering to whatever deity inhabited the upper atmosphere” (9). Religion is brought up again and again within the book, for example when he begins to follow the Muslim ritual of praying five times a day, but I think Mortenson still underestimates the importance of religion to terrorism and overestimates the impact of education. I don’t agree with Mortenson’s main idea that the solution to terrorism is education and eradication of poverty. Many members of terrorist organizations are educated and middle to upper class. For example, the Christmas Day bomber, was once an English university student. There is something else that is at the root of terrorism that maybe we still don’t understand.

Mortenson does admirable work building schools for children who clearly desire it, they are so desperate to learn they are scratching their lessons in the dirt and snow. Mortenson is contributing beneficial creations to the villages he visits but he is not “solving” the problem of terrorism. While literacy will open the minds of these children to new sources of information many other steps need to be taken and all fields of knowledge shown respect. For example, Mortenson says he needs to bargain hard with local businesses and get his money’s worth for supplies (64). But this overlooks the fact that institutions such as Grameen Bank which foster and promote local businesses have made overwhelming contributions. Social businesses are considered one of the best ways to create stable environments and directly create new jobs.