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, a fact which has never been more clear than over the last year. Bestselling author Sebastian Junger created an experiment to examine that tension between individualism and dependence that lies at the heart of what it means to be human, and he joined us to share what he has learned.
Encompassed in his book Freedom, Junger told us about his journey walking the railroad lines of the East Coast with three friends—a conflict photographer and two Afghan War vets. In conversation with veteran and author Matt Gallagher, he related about dodging railroad cops, sleeping under bridges, cooking over fires, and drinking from creeks and rivers, ultimately forging a unique reliance on one another. Weaving in research on primatology, boxing strategy, the history of labor strikes, Apache raiders, the role of women in resistance movements, and the brutal reality of life on the Pennsylvania frontier, he presented a stunning examination of the primary desire that defines us—freedom.
Sebastian Junger is the New York Times bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, Fire, A Death in Belmont, War, and Tribe. As an award-winning journalist, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, and a special correspondent at ABC News, he has covered major international news stories around the world and has received both a National Magazine Award and a Peabody Award. Junger is also a documentary filmmaker whose debut film Restrepo (co-directed with Tim Hetherington) was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.
Matt Gallagher is a Wake Forest graduate and US Army veteran. He’s the author of the novels Youngbloodand the memoir Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War. He holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia and has written for The New York Times, Esquire, and The Paris Review.
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