Books I have recently finished: The Pathfinders; The Art of War; and my own book “Journey to Me”

As an amateur astronomer with an overall interest in science, I have long been aware of the influence of science from west to east and east to west. In fact, this exchange has actually been going on for millenna, even with the difficulties of travel in the ancient world.

Prof. Jim Al-Khalili has covered this wonderfully in his book “The Pathfinders”, highlighting the scientific achievements during the “golden age” of Islam, and that there were scientific exchanges between Islamic and Christian communities and some exchanges from as far away as India in the centuries surrounding the year 1000. And, like Leonardo da Vinci in the west, the Islamic world had its share of polymaths, such as Al-Khwarizmi and Ibn Sina, who known in the west as Avicenna. But the Islamic world was not monothestic, as many Jews and Christians, such as the Jewish philosopher Saadia Gaon and the Christian Job of Edssa also made their contributions; indeed, there were even a couple of atheists.

Prof. Al-Khalili goes into some of the reasons for the golden age’s decline, and they are not all religious, as one might assume, but he also notes the signs of resurgence, as evidenced by the numerous libraries and scientific institutions that have recently been built in cities like Damascus.

A wonderful historical account of a really interesting time in history.

My second book might seem strange, as I am a life-long pacifist, but its a book about the ancient writings of Sun Tzu, who was a Chinese general, military strategist, writer and philosopher who lived from 545 B.C. to 496 B.C., and is entitled “The Art of War”. Reading it comes from both my curiosity and my philosophy of “better a devil you know than a devil you don’t know”.

The edition of the book I got came across as a “how to” book of war, a line item listing of what seemed, to me even as a pacifist, actual sage advice on what to do and what not to do to fight a war. The book apparently has an international reputation, and generals from countries who have actually seen combat claim the Art of War as their “Bible”.

As much as I am against war, I found the reading of it strangely compelling, and I am actually kind of glad I read it. The book did not, to me, glorify war in any way, but was simply very practical advice on how best to fight one. It was, indeed, a very strategic book.

And the last book I want to mention is my own, recently self-published on Kobo, entitled “Journey to Me”.

I had a nervous breakdown when I was nineteen, and went through years of therapy to try to bring a very traumatic and confusing childhood and teen years into perspective.

There’s a saying that “when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it tough to remember you were sent to drain the swamp”. I finally managed to mostly drain my swamp and get a perspective on my life. I say mostly because life is always an ongoing experience.

I wrote the book to try and help people who are going through their own very tough times to get the courage to face themselves and understand. Only by facing your issues can you deal with them. Because, one of the truths of life is, you can’t run away.

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