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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2021 Sebastian Junger. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

"Like Hemingway, Orwell, or Churchill himself, Sebastian Junger is intoxicated by life's perilous extremities. He's chased the front in Bosnia, Serbia, and - most famously - Afghanistan. His voice is like a fingerprint, a baritone played on vocal cords pulled almost to the breaking point. Now the writer meditates on independence and interdependence as he, three friends, and a dog hike and camp rough along 400 miles of track right here in the relative safety of the U.S. of A. The vagrants march through rain, cook over open fires. Trains so heavy and fast 'they seem to set the whole world in motion' explode the solitude. The hike stitches the narrative together, but all is window dressing for Junger's two great loves: courage and a naked heart. You'll hear it in his voice." (AudioFile Magazine)

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What listeners say about Freedom

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Classic Junger.

I enjoyed this book. I always enjoy Sebastian Junger's books. I recommend it as a short introspective work about a mode of travel unheard of these days. In some regards it is a Huckleberry Finn adventure by and for grown-ups. I am 53, and now I feel like making a similar journey. That is one of the main points of the book; there is something inherently appealing to the itinerant tribal type life depicted in this book. In that regard, this book ties in nicely with Junger's last book, Tribe. I totally get how this lifestyle can feel so rewarding.

One thing I love about Junger's work is that he frequently digresses from his narrative to interject a brief, well researched treatise that supports the current topic. He offers some intriguing examples of history, physics, biology, religion, etc. to deepen your understanding of the people or situation he describes in his story. It makes his books that much more involving. He does this better than any other author I have read, and this book is no exception.

This book pulled me in and maintained my interest. However, it left me with the feeling that it was only the middle of a more interesting, longer book. Junger is deliberately vague about the purpose and origin of his adventure, and uncommonly never even mentions the name of any of his companions. The book starts with the journey well underway, and ends abruptly. As a literary style, it is intriguing, but leaves me preoccupied with what was not told. I am intensely curious about it.

Junger's narration can be jarring at first. He is not a slick sounding actor. He is better. I have come to appreciate him as I do with most nonfiction authors who read their own books. nobody else knows exactly what to emphasize, or can relate another person's speech and mannerisms as well as the author. In his book, War, he relates the soldiers' dialog as if they were speaking. I have never felt closer to the subjects of a book. War is one of my all time favorite audiobooks, and Freedom earns my continued loyalty.
Junger has in me, a lifelong fan.

13 people found this helpful

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Superb story. Not what I expected

After hearing the author in an interview about the meaning and political significance of freedom, I expected a similar exploration given in greater depth. The book turned out to be a detailed and very engaging tale of a long hike through the valleys and hills of Pennsylvania. Brought into the story were bits of history that were often too graphic for my taste, and as part of the larger tale, the ways that the whole experience related to the many definitions of freedom. The author was also the reader, and was equally brilliant at both tasks.

7 people found this helpful

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Story of the walk is best parts...

I enjoyed the story of the walk he did along the rails...these parts captivated me and was adventurous, but I didn't enjoy the way the story broke off talking about historical topics. I think it could have been better if he had interviewed the people along his walk like the waitress in the diner, and shared their stories.

3 people found this helpful

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Authentic, gritty and compelling

Excellent performance from the author. Packed full of wisdom and history regarding freedom. My only issue was that it ended.

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hilariously meandering and far too short

confusingly dodges back and forth between a personal story of walking across the country and historical accounts of native American tribes. it misses the opportunity to dive into numerous meaty subjects, including psychological or even philosophical ones.. but stops short every time frustratingly.

it's shockingly short and it also ends so abruptly that saying it was unsatisfying would be an understatement.

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Meh

It was “okay”, I suppose. Felt all over the place at times with seemingly unrelated stories or thoughts interspersed with the story about walking along the railroad tracks. It felt like two different articles thrown together and stretched into a very short book.

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Adventure and History Filled Story

Love Sebastian’s books. The first I read was Tribe. In the US, there is always a fight for Freedom, for some that means less government and for others that means more government. We’ve seen many instances where government takeover affects century old civilizations negatively, such as Native Americans, moving them from their land. On the other hand, lack of government oversight on the textile and steel mills meant unsafe work conditions and deaths of immigrants, so Unions and collective bargaining was a positive takeover.

I learned so much about how the railroad, survival, history and what freedom means to me.

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Very good, even though short, but not too short

I avoided this at full price because of its length. A sale got me to buy it. It was exactly as long as it needed to be. It wasn’t what I expected. I will listen to it again. Pleasantly surprised.

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Meditations on Freedom

Meandering with an incomplete feel. It seems like this is the kernel of something great to come. On its own, it has moments of brilliance but left me wanting and more than a little confused.

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required reading for US CITIZENS

a baby cries, we would feed it, dry it, protect it, for the baby represents our future, our potential. liberty requires sacrifices, it require care, like babies, we must pay a price for the future, Junger knows that price, and his narrative can help teach us, reducing the cost of creating our future. Those who do not know history ...

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