Suleiman, Mortenson's driver, takes him to see "the circus" (20.1). It's not lions jumping through hoops or French clowns pushing balls, it's a media circus: CNN, BBC, NBC, XYZ, QED, OED, and the rest of their gang.
Mortenson sidles up to Kathy Gannon, "the blonde Canadian journalist" (20.13), because all women in this book have to be described with their hair color first.
She tells Mortenson that the Taliban has closed Afghanistan to foreign reporters.
Mortenson gives interviews to journalists, and he talks about the "root causes" (20.39) of the conflict—namely, lack of education and the rise of the Wahhabi madrassas.
One day, a group of "top Taliban leadership" (20.40) stops into the hotel and Mortenson decides to have tea with them.
They agree on the importance of education, and Mullah Zaeef wonders if they should turn in Bin Laden to save Afghanistan.
Later, Mortenson travels with a Denver Post reporter to a refugee camp.
Then Mortenson decides to see what would happen if he tried to go to Afghanistan.
The sentry in charge tells Mortenson that he has a "number-two visa" but needs a "number-one visa" (20.59), and then he tears a page out of it.
Mortenson has to go to the embassy to replace his mutilated passport. They take his passport and tell him to come back later.
The next morning, a group of Marines escorts Mortenson to the embassy, where he's interrogated by men in suits.
They ask him what he does ("I build elementary schools for girls" (20.71)) and how many schools ("I'm not exactly sure" (20.73)).
When they wonder why he doesn't know this information, Mortenson gives them a bunch of sass. "The number is always changing. […] Lots of times we add extensions to government schools, if they have too many kids crammed into their classrooms. […] Also, we pay teachers in Afghan refugee camps to hold class where there aren't any schools. So the number changes from week to week. Did I answer your question?" (20.75). See? We told you: sass.
They continue questioning him until they ask point blank "Where's Osama?" (20.111), to which Mortenson replies, "I hope I never know a thing like that" (20.112).
He's let go and returns to Islamabad.
When Mortenson returns home, he realizes that he's been getting hate mail and death threats from people who don't believe he should be helping anyone in Pakistan.
But in November 2001, Mortenson speaks to a crowd of supporters at a fundraiser and feels that "his life had reached a new summit" (20.141). Aw.