Seven Pillars of Wisdom

#WorldBookDay today and I saw a few interesting postings about books that are worth reading.

I love reading, and one of my biggest regrets the last few years is that I left life and work get in the way of reading. I am changing it though and I am back on reading books I have been collecting (for that purpose obviously, not for decorating my bookshelves !) all these years.

I have many books that I loved throughout my life. Some in Greek by a couple of my favourite teachers, and the rest in English. It turns out that the most books I loved were history books. The exception was some fiction by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Hemingway and Jack London.

When I was at the first year of Primary School, my late father was already buying me books that I would appreciate later, but he instilled in me the love of reading by buying every week an issue of Classics Illustrated. Jack London’s “The Sea Wolf” was one of the first stories I read. “Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott, “The three musketeers” by Dumas and “From the Earth to the Moon” by Jules Vernes became an inspiration for further reading, as well as my spirit of exploring and my passion for astronomy and space.

Having been inspired by Carl Sagan’s TV Series “Cosmos” I started reading his books, starting with “Life in the Universe” and “Intelligent Life in the Universe”.

My bug for space was here for good.

Sagan and Asimov were pioneers of their times and their books should be compulsory reading for many scientific disciplines.

The next as exciting author had to be Stephen Hawking, and his “Brief History of Time”. I still remember the day I bought the book back in Greece. I still remember how I could not stop reading it throughout the night.

After I served in the army, as a black berrett, I read a lot about tanks and military strategy, and it became clearer that studying figures like Montgomery and Rommel were a lot more than studying battles and dates and numbers.

But I guess one of the books that I revisit again and again was by an Englishman, T.E. Lawrence, or Lawrence of Arabia as most people know him. He wrote a few books, but the one that stack with me was The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. It helped me understand a lot about 20th century history and politics, about human nature and about how and why things are the way they are today. It helped me realise a few things about myself. About what I can and cannot do. About how far can I go and much I can be pushed until I come back with a vengeance. It helped me realise that not all people should be valued the same if they do not deserve it, or if they cross a line. And I guess it helped me realise where my lines were drawn, and how I would deal with them when they were crossed.

It is a book about history, confrontation, strategy and philosophy. And what I see today is that people do not read, especially history. And that is sad, because a lot of the mistakes happening in the world around us could have been prevented if we all read just a little bit more about our past.

Like many, I look for quotes of enlightened people, pioneers, philosophers. I rarely share them, as the ones I am attracted to, work for me and may not work for others.

But from this book there is a paragraph that I want to share.

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible. This, I did.

And for those who can not explore far away places, reading is still an adventure. It is still a travel to other places, other times, other people’s minds.

And exploration has to be the driving force for everything we achieved as a human race.

The one quote to match that spirit, would have to come from T.S. Elliot and the Little Gidding.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

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Manager of The Cyber Academy, Edinburgh Napier Uni. Expert Witness & Cybercrime Consultant @ Strathclyde Forensics Ltd. Lecturer at UCLy & West College Scotland

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Basil Manoussos, BSc,MSc,MBCS,ACSFS

Manager of The Cyber Academy, Edinburgh Napier Uni. Expert Witness & Cybercrime Consultant @ Strathclyde Forensics Ltd. Lecturer at UCLy & West College Scotland