Month: December 2011

The Bubble Men

By Shawn Coyne | 19 Comments

This blog is taking a few days off at the end of the year. Here’s a favorite post from 2011. The most beautiful woman in the world called me yesterday to tell me a story. Every day she walks her three children through Central Park, drops off her eldest at school, and then walks her two youngest back across the park to begin that day’s set of activities.  After school lets out in the afternoon, she repeats the journey. Yesterday was the first sunny day in New York for months, warm enough to shed your jacket.  So hundreds of New…

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Take What the Defense Will Give You

By Steven Pressfield | 22 Comments

Everybody loves the vertical game. We all thrill to the deep ball, the long completion, the 55-yard bomb that breaks the game open. (Yes, I’ve been watching a lot of football over the Holidays.) The problem is that, a lot of the time, the guys we’re playing against are as good or better than we are. Or they’re lucky, or they’re having a great day, or they’ve just studied our tendencies and know how to counter them. The defense won’t let us throw the deep ball. We’re dying to. We’re on fire to. But the bastards just won’t let us.…

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Crackpot, Problem Child, Great Fighting Leader Revisited

By Callie Oettinger | 5 Comments

War Stories is taking the day off and will be back next week. For now, here’s a re-run of a post that ran August 29th. One of these things is not like the others:

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The Professional and the Primitive

By Steven Pressfield | 16 Comments

A couple of years ago when I was in Africa, I got a chance to visit a Masai village. The place was so far out in the boonies that we had to fly to it. There were no roads. We had two city Masai with us, a young man and a young woman, who did the translating. When we landed, we could see that there was a commotion going on. Our guides explained to us, after speaking with several of the camp elders, that the shaman had just determined that the site upon which the village had made camp was…

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What Would Will Durant Write Today?

By Callie Oettinger | 5 Comments

They tried to sift out the best from the mass of existing manuscripts, and to guide the reading of the people; they made lists of “best books,” the “four heroic poets,” the “nine historians,” the “ten lyric poets” the “ten orators,” etc. Every time I open Will Durant’s The Life of Greece, a smile yanks at the corners of my lips.

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A Hitch in Time

By Shawn Coyne | 7 Comments

About fifteen years ago a colleague and I had the pleasure of buying Christopher Hitchens a porterhouse steak. We were in Washington, D.C., at a book launch party at Morton’s in Georgetown. My friend had acquired and edited a jaw dropper of a memoir by a former KGB operative. The event was a bit of a victory lap for him and he graciously lobbied on my behalf to attend. It was a wonderful time when such things were done in the book business.

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Playing Hurt

By Steven Pressfield | 43 Comments

The past two and a half years have been really rough for me. Issues of love and work, health and mortality have pushed me into places I’ve never been before. Yet through all this balagan (chaos, in Hebrew), I’ve produced some of the best work of my life. I think there’s a connection. It’s a myth, in my opinion, that we need to have our ducks in a row to produce good work. When I first started writing seriously, in my late twenties, I would work for ten hours a day, in the prime of health, with nothing to distract…

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Why Fight, Part II: I Like It and I’m Good At It

By Callie Oettinger | 7 Comments

The special forces operator told me the children in Afghanistan need him more than his own kids. My gut reaction: Tell him he’s off his rocker. His kids need him, too. But then he explained that the kids in Afghanistan needed someone to fight for them. His wife was strong and could do that for their children in the United States, but he wanted to go fight for other children around the world—the ones who didn’t have someone. He liked it and he was good at it.

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Bullshit Incorporated

By Shawn Coyne | 7 Comments

A story titled “A Silicon Valley School that Doesn’t Compute” appeared above the fold on page A1 of the Sunday October 23rd edition of The New York Times. The byline was Matthew D. Richtel’s, a San Francisco-based technology reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for “Driven to Distraction,” a series of articles that detailed the dangers of texting and dialing cell phones while driving. According to his Times bio, Richtel’s series had the biggest impact of anything the paper of record published in 2009. Two hundred State bills were proposed that banned driver seat texting or phoning as…

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The Villain Speech

By Steven Pressfield | 18 Comments

Shakespeare, Milton and Dante all understood villains. They loved villains. Their villains are their greatest creations. Directors savor villains because villains light up the screen. Actors love to play bad guys. What could be more memorable onscreen than crushing a half-grapefruit into your wife’s face, as James Cagney did to Mae Clarke in Public Enemy, or, as Richard Widmark did in Kiss of Death, push an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs? But what every bad guy needs most of all is a great Villain Speech. From our own era, it’s tough to top the “Greed…

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