The Warrior Ethos

This Week and Next

By Steven Pressfield | 11 Comments

Thus endeth our series, The Warrior Ethos. To read the full book for free, click here. A “lightbox” will open. For those (like me) who are not 100% hip to lightboxes, they’re like e-books except you don’t need a Kindle or an iPad; you can read them on your regular laptop or desktop. Once you’re in the lightbox, open the window wide till you see PREVIOUS | NEXT in the lower left hand corner; then just “turn the pages.” Clicking on a page also turns it. There’s a CLOSE button in the lower right when you want to quit. The…

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“Take Me To the Wizard Files!”

By Steven Pressfield | 3 Comments

Below are some of the dusty tomes I studied in writing The Warrior Ethos. Does the word “arcane” ring a bell? Reading these is like getting beaten up with a bag of ball bearings. Trust me, if the library at Quantanamo Bay contained nothing but these books, there would be no need for “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The prisoners would sing like birds. “Please! No more! I’ll tell you anything you want!” I’m the opposite. I love this stuff.  Unearthing Frontinus’ The Strategemata deep in the library stacks, I was as psyched as Quentin Tarantino when he first got his hands…

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The Warrior Archetype

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

Chapter 28   The Warrior Archetype Jung was a student of myths and legend and of the unconscious. He discovered and named the Collective Unconscious, meaning that part of the psyche that is common to all cultures in all eras and at all times. The Collective Unconscious, Jung said, contains the stored wisdom of the human race, accumulated over thousands of generations. The Collective Unconscious is the software we’re born with. It’s our package of instincts and pre-verbal knowledge. Within this package, Jung discovered what he called the archetypes. Archetypes are the larger-than-life, mythic-scale personifications of the stages that we…

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The War Inside Ourselves

By Steven Pressfield | 13 Comments

Chapter 25   The War Inside Ourselves The Bhagavad-Gita is the great warrior epic of India. For thousands of years, Indian caste structure has been dominated by two elite social orders—the Brahmins (poets and holy men) and the Kshatriyas (warriors and nobles). The Bhagavad-Gita is the story of the great warrior Arjuna, who receives spiritual instruction from his charioteer, who happens to be Krishna—i.e., God in human form. Krishna instructs Arjuna to slay his enemies without mercy. The warrior-god points across the battlefield to knights and archers and spearmen whom Arjuna knows personally and feels deep affection for—and commands him…

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Coming Home

By Steven Pressfield | 3 Comments

Chapter 23   Coming Home But what about us? What about the soldier or Marine who steps off the plane from overseas and finds himself in the scariest place he’s seen in years: Home. Has everything he knows suddenly become useless? What skill set can he employ in the civilian world? The returning warrior faces a dilemma not unlike that of the convict released from prison. Has he been away so long that he can never come back? Is the world he knows so alien to the “real world” that he can never fit in again? Who is he, if…

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Inner Wars

By Steven Pressfield | 6 Comments

PART THREE INNER WARS Chapter 21   Casualties of War All of us know brothers and sisters who have fought with incredible courage on the battlefield, only to fall apart when they came home. Why? Is it easier to be a soldier than to be a civilian? For the warrior, all choices have consequences. His decisions have meaning; every act he takes is significant. What he says and does can save (or cost) his own life or the lives of his brothers. The nineteen-year-old squad leader and the twenty-three-year-old lieutenant often exercise more power (and in spheres of greater and…

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The Warrior Sense of Humor

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

Chapter 20  Die Laughing The warrior sense of humor is terse, dry—and dark. Its purpose is to deflect fear and to reinforce unity and cohesion. The Warrior Ethos dictates that the soldier make a joke of pain and laugh at adversity. Here is Leonidas on the final morning at Thermopylae: “Now eat a good breakfast, men. For we’ll all be sharing dinner in hell.” Spartans liked to keep things short. Once one of their generals captured a city. His dispatch home said, “City taken.” The magistrates fined him for being verbose. “Taken,” they said, would have sufficed. The river of…

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The Will to Victory

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

Chapter 19.  The Will to Victory When Alexander was a boy, a party of traders came to Pella, the Macedonian capital, selling trained warhorses. Philip the king and all his officers went down to the plain to put these mounts through their paces. One horse, called Bucephalus, was by far the fastest, strongest and bravest—but he was so wild that no one could ride him. Alexander watched as his father let the steed go without making an offer. “What a fine mount you lose, Father,” he said, “for want of spirit to ride him.” At this, the king and all his…

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The Joys of Misery

By Steven Pressfield | 13 Comments

Chapter 17   The Joys of Misery Among all elite U.S. forces, the Marine Corps is unique in that its standards for strength, athleticism and physical hardiness are not exceptional. What separates Marines, instead, is their capacity to endure adversity. Marines take a perverse pride in having colder chow, crappier equipment and higher casualty rates than any other service. This notion goes back to Belleau Wood and earlier, but it came into its own during the exceptionally bloody and punishing battles at Tarawa and Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir and Khe Sanh. Marines take pride in enduring hell. Nothing infuriates…

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Citations for Valor

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

Chapter 15   Citations for Valor Decorations for valor, from ancient days to modern, have seldom been awarded for raw bloodthirstiness or the brute act of producing carnage. The feat that inspires witnesses to honor it is almost invariably one of selflessness. The hero (though virtually no recipient chooses to call himself by that name) often acts as much to preserve his comrades as he does to deliver destruction onto the foe. In citations, we read these phrases again and again: “Disregarding his own safety . . .” “With no thought for his own life . . .” “Though wounded…

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