Freedom

Freedom

Sebastian Junger

A profound rumination on the concept of freedom from the bestselling author of The Perfect Storm

‘Sebastian Junger bears witness to a hard-won and an uncertain new world, framed in vital and brilliant prose: a true and honest accounting of everything that underlies the frantic performance of life’ Philip Hoare, author of Albert and the Whale

Throughout history, humans have been driven by the quest for two cherished ideals: community and freedom. The two don’t coexist easily: we value individuality and self-reliance, yet are utterly dependent on community for our most basic needs. In this intricately crafted and thought-provoking book, Sebastian Junger examines this tension that lies at the heart of what it means to be human. 

For much of a year, Junger and three friends—a conflict photographer and two Afghan war vets—walked the railroad lines of the east coast. It was an experiment in personal autonomy, but also in interdependence. Dodging railroad cops, sleeping under bridges, cooking over fires and drinking from creeks and rivers, the four men forged a unique reliance on one another. 

In Freedom, Junger weaves his account of this journey together with primatology and boxing strategy, the role of women in resistance movements and apache renegrades, and the brutal reality of life on the Pennsylvania frontier. Written in exquisite, razor-sharp prose, the result is a powerful examination of the primary desire that defines us.

Reviews of Freedom

    • Praise for Tribe:
    • ‘A brilliant little book driven by a powerful idea and series of reflections … I would give this gem of an essay to anyone embarking on the understanding of human society and governance’ Evening Standard
    • ‘An eloquent and thought-provoking book … it could help us to think more deeply about how to help men and woman battered by war to find new purpose in peace’ The Times
    • ‘Fascinating, insightful and built on real and difficult experiences as well as a background in anthropology’ Sunday Times
    • ‘An electrifying tapestry of history, anthropology, psychology and memoir that punctures the stereotype of the veteran as a war-damaged victim in need of salvation. Rather than asking how we can save our returning servicemen and women, Junger challenges us to take a hard look in the mirror and ask whether we can save ourselves … Tribe is a stirring clarion call for a return to solidarity. In advocating a public, shared confrontation with the psychic scars of war, Junger aims to stop trauma burning a hole through individual veterans. Such a collective catharsis might also be our best hope of healing the wounds modern society has inflicted on itself’ Guardian
    • ‘Junger is particularly insightful when he is discussing combat soldiers and the difficulties they experience when returning from war zones … Junger is correct to draw attention to the major faultlines in affluent societies, including the dismantling of a sense of community. A growing proportion of people are suffering from clinical depression, anxiety and chronic loneliness. He rightly observes that wealth is not the route to happiness. Being loved and giving love are fundamental to human happiness and health’ Observer
    • ‘A small, but convincingly argued, book … a good starting point for rethinking the way we live our troubled modern lives’ Daily Mail
    • ‘Lucid and engaging’ TLS