A 2022 Audie Award Finalist
A profound rumination on the concept of freedom from the New York Times bestselling author of Tribe.
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 the 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 history of labor strikes and Apache raiders, the role of women in resistance movements, 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
You won’t believe what Sebastian Junger does to really get into the concept of freedom. The adventurous author of The Perfect Storm called on three close friends to embark on very long, very illegal walking treks along interstate railroad lines. Junger’s crew lived like old-school hobos for weeks at a time, relying on their wits and each other; their journey allowed them to experience the liberty of living outside of societal boundaries, even under constant threat of getting caught and arrested. Junger, an embedded journalist during the Afghanistan war, knows a thing or two about the fight for freedom. In between poetic accounts of his hardscrabble adventure, he analyzes historical struggles, both peaceful and violent, from all around the world. His book revolves around a crucial question—What exactly is freedom?—and explores the push and pull between the urge for independence and the need for community. You’ll come away from this audiobook with a whole new view of what it means to be free.
A beautiful marriage of storytelling and reporting
Junger once again weaves intimate storytelling with information, history, and the unspoken truths of society. It’s a story, it’s an expose, it’s a delving into history about topics that are both forgotten yet in our face all the time. As an American living in the northeast, I learn about things that I never knew but interact with daily. Lovely book.
I felt sadness and disappointment wash over me in the closing paragraph of this book. I did not want the journey to end.