1. Home

Steven Pressfield - The War of Art Book Review

By February 6, 2009

Follow me on:

"You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I'll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas." - Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Ok, so Pressfield is being a little melodramatic, but he's not making light of the war - people have often mused upon how the course of history might have looked had Hitler made it as an artist. Before you read the review, I'd better own up - I'm a bit of a Steven Pressfield fan. I loved The Virtues of War - images from that book stay with me still - so much so, that when I saw 'Tides of War' in the bookstore, I bought it without even glancing at the cover blurb. I'd coveted 'The War of Art' for some time, and it was well worth the wait. Some readers might not enjoy Pressfield's opinionated style, but I liked his directness. I don't agree with all of his views (such as that the origin of creativity is external to self) but that's the beauty of a book. You can take the ideas that are useful to you and leave those that aren't.

There are some surprises here too. Take 'support'. Support is fundamental, right? We're all in this together. But Pressfield looks at the flipside, and it makes sense. 'Support' so often manifests as endless group meetings, rehashing the ‘same-old same-old’ and making excuses. In ' Resistance and Fundamentalism', Steven Pressfield comments that human beings are not wired to be alone: we are wired for community. Hence the extreme discomfort we feel when we decide to be free, to live according to conscience rather than prescribed rules. For a small book, he covers a lot of ground, referencing western culture from Socrates to Tiger Woods.

Read the review...


June 24, 2013 at 4:41 am
(1) trevor says:

Adolf Hitler went right through World Wa`r I as a lancejack battlefield messenger,a hideously dangerous job of crossing battlefields under fire carrying vital messages. He was awarded every medal of valour possible to one of his rank,steadily refusing all offers of promotion with,”No,I want to stay with the lads.”
[edited by guide to remove contentious content]

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.