The War of Art book review

The War of Art book review
10 Point Rating9
9Overall Score

Date read: 01.12.2017. How strongly I recommend it: 9/10

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Battles, by Steven Pressfield on Amazon.

See my Kindle highlights here.


The demographic that the author speaks to are not only aspiring artists and creatives—although at times it may seem that way. He speaks to everyone, everywhere; to those who know that there is a higher calling and something inside them that needs to be realized. Still, I think most readers will be the unsatisfied strugglers who are looking to get a little further down the road of their creative calling, be them businessmen and businesswomen, writers, painters, stay-at-home moms and men who are frustrated with their nine to five.


Talk about a swift kick in the backside! Wow, no wonder this book has so many high ratings on Amazon. It was definitely not what I was expecting. The layout and style were very unique, tending to feel like more of a free ebook you’d find on the sidebar of a motivational speaker. But it’s much more than that.


There are three “books” within the covers of The war of Art. Book one, Resistance: Defining the Enemy; Book 2, Combatting Resistance: Turning Pro; Book 3, Beyond Resistance: The Higher Realm. I found the message clearly defined because the author reiterated certain points about the forces that are against anyone trying to do anything of artistic importance. What generally tends to happen when an author reiterates a point is that the book feels redundant. I did not find this to be the case in part because of his creative writing style, language selection, and articulations about the force of Resistance. Over and over, his message is explicit: “Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.” It is clear that the author has explored multiple life themes through his many other (mostly fictional) works. He himself is the “professional” that he describes, for “There’s no mystery to turning pro. It’s a decision brought about by an act of will. We make up our minds to view ourselves as pros and we do it. Simple as that.”


This book was definitely creative. Like I said, it was not what I was expecting. I felt that it broke many literary “rules” and brought a new approach to motivational thought. At times I felt that I was reading a daily journal/devotional. Other times it seemed like I had Reader’s Digest in my hands. The author communicates that in simply doing the work inspiration will come. He speaks in terms of “the Muse”, angels, God, a Higher Power, the Self Consciousness, Buddha, etc. This is to me where the water of reasoning grows murky. I agree that inspiration comes as we sit down to do the work. And although the author put it in terms that everyone could accept, it is clear that he himself is the ultimate pantheist, appeasing his demographic with strokes so broad that in the end, We’re left to wonder where inspiration truly comes from. Although this is one of my (few) qualms with the book, I was not overly turned off by the approach. I just felt it a generic approach to explaining the method through which inspiration comes.


The author’s references and writing style is masterful. He pulls from an array of experience, history and culture with such ease that, though the reader may not be thoroughly familiar with his references, the seamlessness of the thought is lucid. I was challenged by some of his terminology—something I look for in a good book.


I have been challenged by this book, not with abstract ideas but with a simple approach: just sit down and do the work. Even after I have completed the book it feels too simple. But it’s not. I am encouraged to get busy with my calling and do what I am made to do. Then to offer the work of my hands to God (or to the gods, as the author puts it.) In fact, as soon as I’m done writing this review, I’m going to continue penning my second book!


I give The War of Art a 9/10.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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