Author Interview: Sebastian Junger

Freedom is a profound rumination on the concept of freedom from the New York Times bestselling author of Tribe. We spoke with author Sebastian Junger about the inspiration for Freedom, narrating his own audiobook, and more!


By Sebastian Junger • Narrated by the author

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

Freedom is one of the core human values, and I wanted to look at the topic through the lens of anthropology and biology. We are the only animal that can defend our autonomy from a more powerful adversary, and the tactics that we employ go to the heart of what makes us human

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

Part of my book recounts a 400-mile trek along railroad lines from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh. As “high-speed vagrants” who slept beneath bridges or out in the woods, we enjoyed a level of freedom that others rarely have.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? What struck you about the narration?

I read the book for the audio version and was surprised by how emotional I got. In fact, I had to stop while I read a political prisoner’s farewell to his family, shortly before he was shot, because I and everyone in the studio was crying.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

When I was young I would walk down to the local independent bookstore in my hometown and ask the person behind the counter what I should read. The books that were put in my hands formed me as much as my education ever did. Maybe, at this very moment, one of my books is being put into the hands of a young person who has walked down to their local bookstore the way I used to. What an incredible cycle to be part of!

Anything else to share with us?

The human voice changes the experience of everything, and audiobooks open a whole world of emotion and nuance that you simply cannot get from the printed word.

Header photo by Peter Foley

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