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Why We Fight

One Man’s Search for Meaning Inside the Ring
Narrated by: Joe Knezevich
Length: 6 hrs and 20 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Summary

Finally, we can talk about Fight Club! Or, a physical and philosophical mediation on why we are drawn to fight each other for sport, what happens to our bodies and brains when we do, and what it all means.

Anyone with guts or madness in him can get hit by someone who knows how; it takes a different kind of madness, a more persistent kind, to stick around long enough to be one of the people who does the knowing.

Josh Rosenblatt was 33 years old when he first realized he wanted to fight. A lifelong pacifist with a philosopher’s hatred of violence and a dandy’s aversion to exercise, he drank to excess, smoked passionately, ate indifferently, and mocked physical activity that didn’t involve nudity. But deep down inside, there was always some part of him that was attracted to the idea of fighting. So, after studying Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Brazilian jiujitsu, and boxing, he decided, at age 40, that it was finally time to fight his first - and only - mixed martial arts match: all in the name of experience and transcending ancient fears.

An insightful and moving rumination on the nature of fighting, Why We Fight takes us on his journey from the bleachers to the ring. Using his own training as an opportunity to understand how the sport illuminates basic human impulses, Rosenblatt weaves together cultural history, criticism, biology, and anthropology to understand what happens to the human body and mind when under attack and to explore why he, a self-described “cowardly boy from the suburbs”, discovered so much meaning in putting his body, and others’, at risk.

From the psychology of fear to the physiology of pain, from Ukrainian shtetls to Brooklyn boxing gyms, from Lord Byron to George Plimpton, Why We Fight is a fierce inquiry into the abiding appeal of our most conflicted and controversial fixation, interwoven with a firsthand account of what happens when a mild-mannered intellectual decides to step into the ring for his first real showdown. 

©2019 Josh Rosenblatt (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • SP
  • 12-08-19

Was good until

The author had to bring his political views into it, which has nothing to do with his story. I didn’t even finish after that.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-02-19

To write a book?

An in depth look at one person's experience in Mixed Martial Arts...and one fight. Some interesting information on boxing and MMA, but maybe takes itself a little too seriously.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 19-03-19

Self-obsessed and delusional

The book is mostly a mediocre story about a bored 40 year old man who decides he wants to know what it feels like to get punched in the face. He decides to train for an MMA fight and shares his experiences of that training. That part of the story is mildly interesting.

But, about 70% into the book, he writes a chapter called The Gathering Darkness which is so vile, so delusional, so insane that he completely undercuts his story. Early in the book, the author frequently mentions his Jewish heritage and his fantasies of fighting Nazis. This reader took that to mean a reasonable fantasy of being strong and defending his people had he lived in Nazi Germany.

But, in the chapter called The Gathering Darkness, he links that fantasy to the present by implying that Trump supporters are Nazis. He writes about the election of Trump as William Shirer wrote about the rise of Hitler. He describes an America as overtly racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant. He imagines that the crowd at his upcoming fight might turn violent when they hear his last name. He describes many of his fellow fighters as violent and blood-thirsty Trump supporters who don't appreciate the art in martial arts. He imagines himself as the Mohammad Ali of MMA, braving an anti-Semitic crowd and fighting for his people. Yes, he actually tried to compare his story to Mohammad Ali.

We also learn in that disgusting chapter that, despite all of his dedication to training for his first MMA fight, he still drinks alcohol, smokes weed, and has time to go door to door to implore people not to vote for Trump. Most readers will feel betrayed at this point. The author pissed away any root-for-the-underdog goodwill that might have existed. Instead, we are left thinking that the author is a hateful, shallow, self-obsessed fool who needed a new gimmick to write about to help pay the rent.

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