Friday, June 13, 2014

Why Have I Added the Section "Books Worth Reading" on Alessandro Bacci's Middle East (The Geopolitics of Energy in the Middle East)?


BEIRUT, Lebanon
June 13, 2014

Dear friends,

Some people have asked me why on the website "Alessandro Bacci's Middle East" I have decided to insert a section called "Books Worth Reading," which is related to books that I have read — for some of them it could more appropriate to say "books that I have studied"— and that I deem relevant for a good understanding of the "geopolitics of energy," especially in the Middle East. Now, with these long-overdue few paragraphs, I would like to provide you with some clarifications.

Reading is one of my favorite hobbies. I am not one of those extremists who affirm that wise men read while less wise men watch TV, films, and videos. However, I believe that, in order to have a deeper understanding of any topics, reading is more powerful a tool than just a simple video. The latter, of course, has a lot of pros as well — be it clear, I greatly love TV, theater, and YouTube — and in my case, many times video contents have played the role of sparking my interest about a specific topic, whose knowledge I have later deepened through reading. Before, I used to carry with me a lot paper books, while now I'm an enthusiast purchaser of Kindle e-books.
The books that I have inserted in this section cover different topics that are linked to the geopolitics of energy in the Middle East. Surely, they mirror my personality, my taste, and my interests. If you browse through the books you will see that a majority of the titles are related to international law, economics, business, and politics — all subjects that are part of my educational and professional background. In addition to these four big categories, there are also books concerning other fields like for instance, style and usage (writing). In fact, after several years' worth of experience in the field of international affairs, I am deeply convinced that the modern manager (as well as the modern analyst, the modern adviser, the modern policy maker, or the modern politician) has necessarily to be versed in all the different fields that affect his decision-making process. In today's world, it's not anymore conceivable to have managers who are not able to read a balance sheet or a contract. Talking just for the pleasure of talking may give positive returns on a short-term basis — it's a sort of commercial marketing — but in the long term it does not provide the real key to durable success.  

Summing up, I have inserted books from different disciplines because I deeply believe that a good professional needs to be versatile and open to learning from different fields especially in light of today's mercurial international affairs environment. A good professional has to be flexible enough in order to adapt to ever-changing working environments, otherwise he will be lost. Some experts (Fernández-Aráoz, 2014) affirm that today, more than just simple skills, the most talented professionals need to have "potential," the potential to learn new skills. And indeed, good books may help the motivated, curious, and determined professional to move along with the times.  

Moreover, I think that reading, together with writing and mathematics, is one of the three fundamental skills that every person has to master. In this regard, the standardized U.S. tests for the enrollment in tertiary-level academic courses (tests like for instance, the G.R.E. and the G.M.A.T.) well cover these three skills, which are the building blocks on which we always have to rely on in order to carry out smart decisions. And my list of books goes toward this direction. I still remember when at the high-school I studied for five years Ancient Greek and Latin — which I have now partially forgotten. The idea behind the study of those two old languages was not to learn something useful in my everyday's life, but to widen my logical thinking skills at the linguistic level, which are universally transferable to the study of other languages. All this said, if I'm in Greece or Cyprus, I am still able to read road signs, but this is only a small portion of the benefit that high-school training brought to me.  
Last but not least, one anecdote. Some years ago, because I was interested in obtaining a degree with a prestigious academic institution, I had a meeting with a professor with that school. He pointed out to me that my enrollment was difficult because, according to their internal policy, they tended to admit only students who had previously studied at that specific institution at the graduate level. And then — I was in his office where there were books on many shelves — he raised his arm and told me: "You see all those books? Well, here at this institution we have the idea that although our students may not have read all of them, at least they know about their existence and if they have to do a research they know where to look for information." Was he right, was he wrong? I still do not know. There was certain logic behind his words: The school wanted to be sure of admitting only people with the requested credentials. The problem is that I knew or I had read a lot of those titles. The sense of this anecdote is that "Books Worth Reading" is my window for showing the world what I deem important when we talk about the geopolitics of energy in the Middle East, as if this section were the certificate of a program that I have developed during the last years.   
Some final points before letting you go. The list is an open list, which means that as soon as I have read something that I deem relevant, I will add it to the section. The majority of the inserted publications are in English. Sometimes I have also inserted some reports because in my opinion they are very relevant in their field and I have considered them as books. One last marginal note: For technical reasons all books have the fictitious date of February 22, 2006.

Have a good reading!

Best regards,