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Stealing Fire
Cover of Stealing Fire
Stealing Fire
How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

CNBC and Strategy + Business Best Business Book of 2017

"Steven and Jamie have done a wonderful job of balancing the promises, perils, and how-to prescriptions of engineering peak states such as 'flow.'" Tim Ferriss, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek

It's the biggest revolution you've never heard of, and it's hiding in plain sight. Over the past decade, Silicon Valley executives like Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk, Special Operators like the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets, and maverick scientists like Sasha Shulgin and Amy Cuddy have turned everything we thought we knew about high performance upside down. Instead of grit, better habits, or 10,000 hours, these trailblazers have found a surprising short cut. They're harnessing rare and controversial states of consciousness to solve critical challenges and outperform the competition.

New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler and high performance expert Jamie Wheal spent four years investigating the leading edges of this revolution—from the home of SEAL Team Six to the Googleplex, the Burning Man festival, Richard Branson's Necker Island, Red Bull's training center, Nike's innovation team, and the United Nations' Headquarters. And what they learned was stunning: In their own ways, with differing languages, techniques, and applications, every one of these groups has been quietly seeking the same thing: the boost in information and inspiration that altered states provide.

Today, this revolution is spreading to the mainstream, fueling a trillion dollar underground economy and forcing us to rethink how we can all lead richer, more productive, more satisfying lives. Driven by four accelerating forces—psychology, neurobiology, technology and pharmacology—we are gaining access to and insights about some of the most contested and misunderstood terrain in history. Stealing Fire is a provocative examination of what's actually possible; a guidebook for anyone who wants to radically upgrade their life.

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

CNBC and Strategy + Business Best Business Book of 2017

"Steven and Jamie have done a wonderful job of balancing the promises, perils, and how-to prescriptions of engineering peak states such as 'flow.'" Tim Ferriss, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek

It's the biggest revolution you've never heard of, and it's hiding in plain sight. Over the past decade, Silicon Valley executives like Eric Schmidt and Elon Musk, Special Operators like the Navy SEALs and the Green Berets, and maverick scientists like Sasha Shulgin and Amy Cuddy have turned everything we thought we knew about high performance upside down. Instead of grit, better habits, or 10,000 hours, these trailblazers have found a surprising short cut. They're harnessing rare and controversial states of consciousness to solve critical challenges and outperform the competition.

New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler and high performance expert Jamie Wheal spent four years investigating the leading edges of this revolution—from the home of SEAL Team Six to the Googleplex, the Burning Man festival, Richard Branson's Necker Island, Red Bull's training center, Nike's innovation team, and the United Nations' Headquarters. And what they learned was stunning: In their own ways, with differing languages, techniques, and applications, every one of these groups has been quietly seeking the same thing: the boost in information and inspiration that altered states provide.

Today, this revolution is spreading to the mainstream, fueling a trillion dollar underground economy and forcing us to rethink how we can all lead richer, more productive, more satisfying lives. Driven by four accelerating forces—psychology, neurobiology, technology and pharmacology—we are gaining access to and insights about some of the most contested and misunderstood terrain in history. Stealing Fire is a provocative examination of what's actually possible; a guidebook for anyone who wants to radically upgrade their life.

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About the Author-
  • STEVEN KOTLER is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning journalist, and the cofounder and director of research for the Flow Genome Project. His books include Tomorrowland, Bold, The Rise of Superman, Abundance, A Small Furry Prayer, West of Jesus, and The Angle Quickest for Flight. His work has been translated into forty languages and his articles have appeared in more than eighty publications, including the New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Wired, Forbes, and Time. Steven is an in-demand speaker and advisor on technology, innovation and peak performance. You can find him online at www.stevenkotler.com.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2017
    Two researchers survey the various ways that human beings alter their consciousness to improve performance.Kotler (The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, 2014, etc.) and Wheal are co-founders of an organization called the Flow Genome Project, which studies how people get into the peak performance mindset most people know as "the zone." Here, they present case studies from their day jobs, and the patchwork nature of the construction fails to lend it much weight. They also muddy the concept by comparing the attainment of "non-ordinary" states to the Eleusinian Mysteries, a 2,000-year-old ritual that found men communing with gods. The term they use for this mindset is the Greek word ecstasis, defined here as "stepping beyond oneself." After tabulating the $3 trillion to $4 trillion circulating in the "Altered States Economy," they turn to the "communal vocational ecstasy" at Google. In subsequent chapters the authors turn up interesting characters ranging from Navy SEALs to mad scientists like Alexander Shulgin and John Lilly as well as the occasional extreme athlete. Unfortunately, a great deal of the book is couched in Silicon Valley's self-propelling mass delusions. We find the authors encouraging readers to explore "repurposing our egos from our operating system (OS) to a user interface (UI)." Elsewhere, a venture capitalist in the Valley drops wisdom like, "we've noticed that learning to kitesurf has a lot of parallels with the challenges of entrepreneurship," and Elon Musk sings the praises of Burning Man. Unsurprisingly, the book ends with the story of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's America's Cup victory in 2013. Ultimately, the book is fine as a sampler for people interested in tuning up their consciousness, but readers will find a deeper dive into biohacking in Kara Platoni's We Have the Technology (2015) and a more authentic story in Ayelet Waldman's microdosing memoir A Really Good Day (2017). A jargon-heavy, superficial primer on altered states tuned to a specific audience.

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    February 15, 2017

    Kotler (cofounder & director of research, Flow Genome Project; The Rise of Superman) and Wheal, an expert on peak performance and leadership, have written a book on altered mental states and the effects thereof. Their introductory premise comes from a party organized by Alcibiades, an ancient Greek general and politician who provided his guests a mind-altering drink that terrified them at first then altered their consciousness. The authors relate to the uses of controlled substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, LSD, and legal practices such as meditation, yoga, or sexual activity to obtain these states of mind. Activities that provide highs, such as mountain climbing, Navy SEAL achievements, and some Silicon Valley practices, are used as examples of behaviors that can substantially add to our lives and productivity. The state of "ecstasis," the abilities of the brain to extend consciousness to new areas, is the goal here, and several methods are explored to achieve or sustain it. The authors provide a great deal of substantive documentation to support their premises. VERDICT This well-written, well-documented, and significant work is also controversial. Yet, all readers can find value in its contents. [See Prepub Alert, 8/26/16.]--Littleton Maxwell, Robins Sch. of Business, Univ. of Richmond

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • The New York Times "Reading Stealing Fire, Mr. Lang-Willar said, he became convinced that nothing less than a 'cultural awakening' was underway."
  • Financial Times "A mind-blowing tour along the path from sex and drugs to R&D."
  • Peter Diamandis, founder of the X Prize, co-chairman of Singularity University, bestselling author "Stealing Fire is a beautifully written, must-read for anyone interested in living up to their full potential. Kotler and Wheal have produced a user-manual for your hacking your brain to drive high performance."
  • Cdr. Mark Divine (USN Ret.), New York Times best selling author, founder SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind "Stealing Fire cracks the secret code of peak performance so that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary results."
  • Neil Strauss, New York Times best-selling author of The Game "Meticulously researched and innovatively conceptualized, Stealing Fire is not just a bible for the second psychedelic revolution (drugs not required), but a manual to getting more: out of your body, your mind, and your happiness."
  • David Eagleman, Stanford University neuroscientist, bestselling author, presenter of PBS's The Brain "An electrifying, fast-paced journey into the deep potential of the human brain."
  • Chip Conley, bestselling author of Peak and Emotional Equations and former Head of Strategy for AirBnB "Our linear lives and brains need to be thrown a curve on occasion and this is a masterpiece literary curveball."
  • Michael Gervais, High Performance Psychologist to Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks "Captures the unspoken essence of what men and women on the frontier of human experience, think and do to excel in creativity and performance."
  • Salim Ismail, founding executive director of Singularity University and bestselling author of Exponential Organizations "Stealing Fire lays out exactly how to hack the brain...Kotler and Wheal have taken a major bite out of the unknown. If you're at all interested in knowing how your mind works, this is imperative reading!"
  • Andrew Newberg, MD., director of research Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine and author of How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain "Stealing Fire is a fantastic book about the future of humanity and everything that we can become. Based on incredible stories and cutting edge data, it reveals how our brain and body can be optimized to its greatest potential."
  • Jason Silva, artist, futurist, host of National Geographic's Brain Games "The North Star we've been waiting for—finally a distillation of the upper reaches of the human experience unveiled! I am so excited for this book to reach the world!"
  • Library Journal "[Stealing Fire is] well-written, well-documented, and significant work."
  • Tim Ferriss, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The 4-Hour Workweek "Steven and Jamie have done a wonderful job of balancing the promises, perils, and how-to prescriptions of engineering peak states such as 'flow.'"
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Stealing Fire
Stealing Fire
How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work
Steven Kotler
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