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Jul. 3—Sebastian Junger often packs several cohesive arguments into thin volumes.
In "Tribe," Junger examined the idea of community, of belonging, in curbing post-traumatic stress disorder among soldiers following war.
In "War," he delved into combat situations, derived from experience and research.
In his latest book, "Freedom," Junger looks at the concept of independence wedged against the concept of interdependence.
People may say they are free and independent, but as a society, we depend on one another, social standards and the government to a tremendous degree.
We take a lot of stuff for granted — from purchasing groceries and clothing in stores, to utilities in our homes and in the places we go, traveling on roads, etc. Even the most self-reliant person with a vehicle still must depend on corporate refineries making gasoline.
"Freedom" basically boils down its arguments to the more we rely on services, the more things we take for granted, the less freedom we enjoy.
As part of his case, Junger and several unnamed men take walks along a rail line on the East Coast. They carry their packs on their backs. They have some money. They eat at diners and by campfire. They live under the stars or under railroad bridges.
It's not one long trek. Junger explains the trip was spread out over a number of hikes, with different people. He chronicles these journeys, avoiding law enforcement since it's illegal to walk the rails, encountering other people, dealing with weather, aching bodies, etc. Encountering people who think trading the problems of their daily lives for the hardships of walking and living outside would be liberating.
The trip sounds freeing but it comes at the cost of not having the services many people consider essential as well as sore feet and legs from walking many miles during a number of consecutive days.
Junger also details how small groups such as the Apaches can thwart the military might and wills of much larger forces for years.
Junger is always interesting to read. And "Freedom" keeps a reader's interest but its message is not as clear as his previous books.