"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The pages of July

It's hard to put down

I read about this book and its influence on the American military on the front page of the NY Times Sunday. For some reason, I usually avoid books on the Mideast, but it caught my attention, and my wife Susan already had a copy.

I picked it up, and it's hard to put down.

This is the way to win wars, and it gives you a great perspective on Islamic culture and life: build schools.

Not only is it a great story of an individual American's success--a mountain climber from Montana-- in helping poor people in the remote Himalaya of northern Pakistan, it is also masterfully written, a narrative that keeps you turning the pages.

And the journalist who helped write it  has a beautiful command of the language.  Some of my underlined excerpts:
  • "So Mortenson lay beneath the stars salting the sky... ."
  • ...helping to guide him past the roadblocks of life in northern Pakistan... ."
  • "Jet lag. Culture shock. Whatever name you gave the demons of dislocation... ."
  • "...a coffee-colored stuffed monkey that had been his closest companion back where memory fringes into mere sensory recall."
  • "...language was a currency he was loath to spend carelessly."
  • "...swimming happily in a sea of cultures and languages."
  • "Greg Mortenson's learning curve with climbing was as steep as the rock faces he was soon scaling."
  • "He had stitched together half of the globe, on a fifty-six-hour itinerary...and, finally, out of this tunnel of time zones and airports... ."
  • "He was tucked into a concrete hive of shops... ."





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