Sebastian Junger — Seeking Freedom, Near-Death Experiences, and Reordering Your Place in the World (#513)

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“It’s freedom from oppression that you have a right to; it’s not freedom from obligation.”

— Sebastian Junger

Sebastian Junger (@sebastianjunger) is the New York Times bestselling author of Tribe, War, A Death in Belmont, Fire, and The Perfect Storm, and codirector of the documentary film Restrepo, which was nominated for an Academy Award. He is also the winner of a Peabody Award and the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He’s based in New York City and Cape Cod. His newest book is titled Freedom.

For more Sebastian, you can find our first conversation from 2016 at

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform.

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You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#513: Sebastian Junger — Seeking Freedom, Near-Death Experiences, and Reordering Your Place in the World

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear the last time Sebastian was on this show? Lend an ear to our conversation in which we discussed Thomas Paine and Stoicism, how to develop a writing style, the psychiatric effects of war, the lonely nature of society, how to really “support the troops,” and much more.

#161: Lessons from War, Tribal Societies, and a Non-Fiction Life (Sebastian Junger)


  • Connect with Sebastian Junger:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • Sebastian shares how he barely survived a recent experience he wouldn’t wish on anyone: an undiagnosed aneurysm in his pancreatic artery. [06:15]
  • What profound truths were made clear in the aftermath of this traumatic brush with death? [09:21]
  • Sebastian has always been willing to take risks (like reporting from war-torn countries). Did becoming a father and surviving the aneurysm change this? [12:48]
  • What lessons did Sebastian learn from picking up two hobbies no ordinary 51-year-old would pursue: boxing and playing the accordion? What itch does boxing seem to scratch? [16:07]
  • What compelled Sebastian to pick up the accordion, and how has it rewarded him? [18:37]
  • How successful have Sebastian’s efforts to raise his two daughters in an “elemental, mindful, tribal manner” been thus far, and what is his foray into fatherhood teaching him? Why does he think he’s getting more from the experience in his 50s than he would have in his 20s? [21:54]
  • How does Sebastian relate to the aging process of a warrior, and how did Crow chief Plenty Coups come to understand the role as one of protection rather than ego-driven aggression in order to ensure the survival of his own tribe into the 20th century? [28:42]
  • What prompted Sebastian to write his new book, Freedom, and why is it divided into three sections: Run, Fight, and Think? [39:26]
  • Why is the inclusion of women in insurgencies crucial to their success? [47:47]
  • Sebastian shares the story behind The Last Patrol, and how walking hundreds of miles along American railroad tracks gave him an unparalleled sense of freedom. [52:05]
  • Did the structure of Freedom change from conception to finished product? [57:44]
  • While studying history and witnessing firsthand how terrible human beings can be to other human beings, how does Sebastian refrain from withdrawing into full-blown nihilism? [1:00:48]
  • As an atheist, why did Sebastian choose to preface Freedom with a verse from the Bible? [1:07:21]
  • On the mental trick that humans have used throughout history to downgrade people from “other” groups to subhuman status in order to remorselessly exploit, subjugate, torture, or kill them. [1:09:28]
  • What is the Gini coefficient, and how does it tie in with the discomforting etymology of the word “freedom” and the relative inequality of history’s most dominant empires? [1:12:13]
  • What does Sebastian hope people will take away from Freedom or perhaps ponder more closely after reading it? [1:19:07]
  • As free individuals, what do we owe our society? [1:24:42]
  • An ask of the audience: figure out what you owe. [1:30:51]
  • Sebastian’s advice, as a new father, to aspiring parents. [1:34:31]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:36:39]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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8 Replies to “Sebastian Junger — Seeking Freedom, Near-Death Experiences, and Reordering Your Place in the World (#513)”

  1. Tim – Sebastian Junger’s 1st episode with you was my #1 favorite podcast that you’ve done thus far (and yes, I’ve listened to all of them). As you can imagine, I was excited to see a follow-up episode and it surpassed all expectations! Sebastian is such a moving storyteller, and you ask the perfect follow up questions. Also good luck to you and your girlfriend on your next possible adventure, happy to hear about that!!

  2. DUDE! That animation from the 6 bullet surprise was – just wow. Thank you, and Joe P. for the recommendation.

  3. To my shame, I have to admit I’ve never heard of Sebastian Junger until this podcast. As always, Tim, you shine a light on amazing people and share it with the world. I really appreciate it! Thank you!

  4. I’ve read Junger before, and enjoyed his writing. But I can’t take this interview serious. He begins by stating “I’m an atheist, I don’t believe in anything that you can’t measure or observe” and then spends the next five minutes contradicting himself by describing an internal transformation – i.e. something that cannot be measured or observed.

    Sebastian, you have to do the work mate. Start with C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, or even Miracles – although the latter takes some effort. Best of luck.

  5. Take Sebastian’s recommendation to give blood to heart. He is absolutely correct about its ability to make you feel good about contributing to society and literally saving lives. I have always told people there is no easier way to obtain that good vibe. I’m O- and so used to give double red which can only be done every 4 months, so you basically give up call it 6 hours a year with travel to save perhaps multiple lives. I can no longer give because at 30 I discovered I have a rare autoimmune disorder that affects my heart and my doc told me I’d done my part and to stop, but 9 years later I still genuinely miss having that opportunity. I miss walking out of the Red Cross with a sense of connection to humanity, feeling a high because I had made a contribution (even if perhaps a little sheepishly for feeling so good about putting forth such little effort). So please sign up to donate today!

  6. Tim I really enjoy the guests you have on your show. I found Sebastian to be captivating and his stories and ideas of life to be so profound. I found myself getting irritated listening to the podcast though because I felt like your responses to Sebastian did not indicate that you were listening to him at all. I felt like Sebastian would share an intimate detail of his life, something vulnerable and exposing and your response was to jump to the next question. I struggle in my own personal life when I am not acknowledged or really listened to so this could be the root of my frustration. I am curious though in your interviews how do you listen and acknowledge your guests?