AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: Freedom by Sebastian Junger


Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Format: Audio
Genre:  Philosophy, security
Narrators: Sebastian Junger

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio                
3 hours 6 min
Buy: Kindle | Audio


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.


I had mixed feelings about this book. I have enjoyed Jungers books in the past.  I really appreciate the way he can turn history and new into a story that pulls you in, and helps you care about your fellow man.  This book does that as well.  Deciding to take a walk-about Junger and his friends travel the train lines of the East coast.  Along the way we learn the history of the places he passes and how being nomadic isn't necessarily being free but just being beholden to a different set of ideals.  

The United States does appreciate people roaming, thats why we have fences and no trespassing signs everywhere.  Why homeless people find it so hard to find a place to camp - because camping in designated areas isn't usually free.  Why Indigenous tribes were driven out of their homes to make way for roads or railroads, or just homes for white people.  

With the popularity of nomadic cultures such as Van life we are seeing a surge of young and old who either can't afford to live in traditional homes or just like the idea of waking in a new place every so often. But are these people more free than those who own homes? Its an interesting question as they often struggle to find food, keep warm, and are looked down upon by a large portion of the society in which they dwell. 

In true Junger form he weaves together his account of his trip, along with the history making you understand and care about the people he is talking about  - I guess my biggest issue was that it felt a bit disjointed.  I wanted to know more about his journey.  I understood and appreciated the history but I wanted to know more about how he felt when he was chased by police, shot at, etc.... Overall I thought this was a good read.  Just not one of his best. 

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