Stealing Fire

How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work
Narrated by: Fred Sanders
Length: 8 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (5,315 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The authors of the best-selling Bold and The Rise of Superman explore altered states of consciousness and how they can ignite passion, fuel creativity, and accelerate problem solving, in this groundbreaking book in the vein of Daniel Pink's Drive and Charles Duhigg's Smarter Faster Better.

Why has generating "flow" and getting "into the zone" become the goal of the world's most elite organizations? Why are business moguls attending Burning Man? Why has meditation become a billion-dollar industry? Why are technology gurus turning to psychedelic drugs to unlock creativity?

All of these people are seeking to shift their state of mind as a way of unlocking their true potential. Altered states, the authors reveal, sharpen our decision-making capabilities, unleash creativity, fuel cooperation, and let us tap in to levels of inspiration and innovation unavailable at all other times. Stealing Fire combines cutting-edge research and firsthand reporting to explore a revolution in human performance - a movement millions of people strong to harness and utilize some of the most misunderstood and controversial experiences in history.

Building a bridge between the extreme and the mainstream, this groundbreaking and provocative book examines how the world's top performers - the Navy SEALS, Googlers, Fortune 100 CEOs - are using altered states to radically accelerate performance and massively improve their lives, and how we can, too.

Ultimately, Stealing Fire is a book about profound possibility - about what is actually possible for ourselves and our species when we unlock the full potential of the human mind.

©2017 Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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    2 out of 5 stars

Very disappointing. Not what it promises to be.

Would you try another book from Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal and/or Fred Sanders?

No. After purchasing Stealing Fire, I feel like I got "burned."
The book promises to be, "a guidebook for anyone who wants to radically upgrade their life." Unfortunately, it's just a guidebook to entice you into joining their training which costs $700 annually.

Has Stealing Fire turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. Just the author and his team of people who clearly wrote this book as nothing more than a means to sell their $700 "training."

Have you listened to any of Fred Sanders’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. It's on par with his other work.

What did you take away from Stealing Fire that you can apply to your work?

I learned that an entire "guidebook" can be written without giving any truly actionable guidance other than, "you should pay me $700 to get the REAL advice you were seeking when you bought my audiobook."
I also learned that an entire audiobook lasting 8 hours, 24 minutes can be nothing more than marketing. If I wanted to be an asshole, maybe I'd apply these lessons to my own endeavors but my ethics won't let me.

Any additional comments?

If you feel a need to satisfy your curiosity about this book, be prepared to take advantage of Audible's generous return policy; I certainly did.

152 people found this helpful

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Warning: This will get you high

As a working artist who’s lived & pondered many of the ideas discussed in this book, I’m ecstatic & energized to hear the authors connect once-before disparate ideas of science, technology, & spirituality. Their examples of seeking & creating altered states of consciousness throughout history paired with the ever present shift in exponential technology & market trends is strong evidence of a radically new world we’ve entered. They shed great balance to the pros & cons of conscious hacking while providing useful tactics & warnings to those eager to pioneer their own ecstatic experiences.

This book is for not only the scientific & mystical, but simply anyone awakened to the idea of life design & personal development. The information in this book is bound to get you high.

6 people found this helpful

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Authors pester people who buy the book

To review, to buy more copies, so that they can rank higher (expressly said). Getting back to the book, it describes a lot of what, but nothing practical for how -- except, presumably if you join their $497 program.

86 people found this helpful

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Flow is the new enlightenment

A new way of viewing humanities journey to heal and enlighten our consciousness. Amazing book!

4 people found this helpful

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An overview of the stupid hobbies of rich people

This review title should not strike anyone as controversial because in chapter 8 he literally uses the term "trickle down ecstasis" and it is only at this point that he talks about anything that is remotely useful to the average reader. Even at that point, he dwells upon the same boring themes that dominate the rest of his book, most chiefly, designer drug use. I picked up this book under the impression that this would describe the practices that have helped people and organizations innovate and succeed. However the author appears to have gotten the causal relationship reversed and he was too stoned to realize it; all he talks about is the stuff people with a lot of spare time and money end up doing with their excess resources. Perhaps the only exception to this is his description of Seal Team Six, which he puts at the beginning of the book likely because it's the only part of the book with any merit whatsoever. It's all utterly inane pseudo transcendence that I am completely bored of as someone who was raised in California. Nothing new at all. All of the studies are flimsy. This book sounds like a multi-hour long rant of a Burning Man attendee trying to explain why acting like a self-indulgent kiddult in the desert is somehow an admirable experience. It's actually harmful to imply that such "vehicles of ecstasis" can help people succeed to the extent the author does. I met several people who have already been fooled by this argument in the tech industry and I have achieved more promotions and more success than any of them without having to take a single "dab" of any chemical garbage. Dropping acid like Steve Jobs doesn't turn you into Steve Jobs; unfortunately, this book touches upon none of the characteristics that will actually make you a good engineer or business leader and skips straight to the dropping acid part and which is frankly demeaning and stupid. Great book for people who want to pat themselves on the back for their bad habits, not a great book for people who like well researched and balanced arguments that will stand the test of time.

69 people found this helpful

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One Needs an Open Mind for Inspiration and Flow...

A fascinating, yet controversial read.
This book may inspire or offend you. If you are more on the conservative or deeply spiritual side, parts of this most interesting book you might not like. I personally also wouldn't opt for doing the riskier things.
However, the collection of studies around "flow" or heightened mental states is fascinating. Group flow and meditation practice has been done for millennia, so there most probably is something to it. I will look further into these for myself and at work. Towards further success :-)

8 people found this helpful

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Compelling, Validating and Enlightening


I liked this book because the topic is something everybody craves on some level or another. Everyone wants to lift their game and up level their happiness feel more flow. Seeking the consistent flow, grow and collaboration for a rich life, rich in essence not necessarily material gain. This book takes you there and connects so many dots, it's brilliant.
There wasn't much I disliked about the story, the way it was written or read. It's all good.
I'd recommend it to anyone open minded, interested in consistent high performance for life and work, creatives and empaths will love it, the same as CEOs and other driven professionals and athletes and adrenaline junkies. If you are really religious it may not be your thing, I still encourage everyone to be open minded to this valid and worthy read.
I rated it high because it brought together so many of my interests in one place. Thanks

14 people found this helpful

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Amazing narrative about the "other" world.

I loved this book. Gives very clean perspective on many things that I always thought were socially irresponsible and awful. I didn't know that there's so much research happening in this area of altered states. A must read if you ever wandered about the limitlessness of human consciousness. I wish there was little more content about flow and ways to achieve flow states in daily activities.

6 people found this helpful

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No actual practices

This book was great for entertaining purposes and ultimately getting you to buy one of their programs online. If you are deep into your meditation practices and self realization journey don't waste your time. If you're new to the meditation world than this might entertain you and maybe motive you to do more research. 💙

16 people found this helpful

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Use the Fire Wisely

What did you love best about Stealing Fire?

I enjoyed the deep research the authors did on this topic. Their scholarship shows.

What other book might you compare Stealing Fire to and why?

I think Stealing Fire begins where Rise of Superman ends.

Which character – as performed by Fred Sanders – was your favorite?

Fred was a brilliant narrator.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It was deep. If you rush it, you'll miss some of the mojo.

Any additional comments?

Loving the audio version. It released this morning and I'm deep into the content. (I caught several of their podcasts on this topic earlier in the month.)

The research is thorough. The implications are provocative. Although I'm not swallowing every expression of altered states—literally or figuratively—I've been a student of Steven's since Rise of Superman. Just like in that book, he masterfully weaves a multi-disciplinary approach to the topic at hand.

I love the fact they chose to co-author this one. Jamie's passion is infectious and he brings a deep wealth of expertise to the conversation.

I believe this book will be a seminal resource toward shifting our understanding of what's possible. My advice? Enter Stealing Fire with an openness to learn and grow. And use discernment when deciding which practices to integrate into your own life. Clearly, there is a buffet of options. Just like with fire, some uses will be beneficial. Others might get you burned. Wisdom knows the difference between the two.

Great job Steven and Jamie.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-26-17

Gamechanger....

Ridiculously good and for me it is exactly what I needed... Gamechanger...gratitude...what a gift for humanity!

16 people found this helpful

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  • Ciprian
  • 03-26-17

The first book that I really reasonate with

This book answered to some of my existential questions. Once you start reading the first chapter you can't stop

8 people found this helpful

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  • Em
  • 07-23-17

What a treat !! 1st Review ever

Where does Stealing Fire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best. I loved this book so much I am finally writing a review. Mind bending, I'm heavily in to the Brain, Neuro plasticity, epigenetics, quantum physics mindfulness etc. I usually get a book and its the same old research presented slightly differently. This book was so refreshingly new, I had no idea these things were going on.
I love books that are thought provoking and leave me somewhat confused and wanting to know more. This is one of those books, I'm off to listen to it again with a pen and paper.

Excellent.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tristan R.
  • 08-01-17

Wow!

I've never get the urge to write a review before, but this is one of the best books I've ever read/heard. A very insightful and interesting look into altered states, which it turns out comes from all sorts of activities and is growing. Fast.

If you're interested in learning about the minds potential and ways you can think outside the box, I would highly recommend this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • JohnJenner
  • 04-24-17

thought provoking

definitely a different prospective on performance and flow than I held before.
an interesting weave of history, present and future

2 people found this helpful

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  • elliottm79
  • 05-28-19

Halfway through opinion

Basically this book keep on exploring what the author defines as Ecstasies mostly involved sex (bdsm, kink and orgasms) drug use and other kinds of getting out of the consciousness in various ways to be better... he keeps on mentioning Google and the Seal team to offer some sort of credibility.
Waste of my day and money. I’d say avoid but many seem to disagree with that. Could the second part be so much better?! I doubt it :(((

1 person found this helpful

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  • R-the Relentless
  • 02-18-18

A revolution of consciousness

This is an extraordinary book to bring us a revelation to what's possible in us. Looking forward to putting it to practice!

1 person found this helpful

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  • BarefootRonin
  • 03-22-17

Seemingly A Pro-Drugs Guide With Little Direction

Would you try another book written by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal or narrated by Fred Sanders?

Nope. I have no idea what the point of this book is. I got 5 hours in and it just seems to be telling us that (some) people take drugs and that can/may make them 'perform' better. Thanks guys... Nobody knew that! I wasted 5 hours of my life.

Would you ever listen to anything by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal again?

Not a chance - Two words: Credit Refund.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Fred Sanders?

No.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Stealing Fire?

All of the content.

Any additional comments?

Don't buy this book unless you want a 'text' book on how drugs have been used to alter perception. Waffle waffle waffle. I may be being a dullard but I have no idea what the authors are trying to tell us other than some drugs may be good if you want to experience other worlds or enhance perception with pharmaceuticals. Little or NO practical information.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Trailerfitters Toolbox
  • 05-25-20

If Your Brain Can Afford The Experience

This was a production I could finish but coming from a generation that blindly took psychedelics from the hippies we were a rag tag bunch with no aims. I know this book glorifies the substances developed by scientists for experimentation and unleashed them onto the public there is no mention of the damage it has caused to some who ended up confused by their trips. Sure it is trendy now to hack and by pass spiritual practices however fast tracking can totally unbalance a persons mind which they then need to heal from.

Why are we in such a rush to get that high of connection? It's because the world in such a hurry to increase productivity and avoid the work that commercial fast tracking is available. It takes time to build muscles, allow the body to adjust and heal. Is not the brain the same way?

Happily, beyond the strewn acid casualty wreckages there lies those who have transcended their consciousness for the benefit of mankind or for themselves but many joined spiritual practices to complete where the drugs couldn't reach.

The book says what it is on the cover and thus the content is exactly that. It has been an interesting journey but I feel the narrative underlying and doesn't surface until the end of the book and is a large advertisement for their hacking and optimising program which I do not think is cost effective to the general population. These misguided folk are the ones who Guinea Pigged the release of recreational drugs and took the risks so yuppies could eventually benefit. None the less, informative.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-30-20

Dangerous rubbish

Just listening to Steven Kotler's book and had to return it to audible. This guy pushes drugs and twists history. But this is the age of the new techy shaman and i know i should not be surprised but some of this guys stuff is shockingly dangerous! And he comes as the all-knowing sharer of wisdom and by dissing virtually the whole of humanities True discoverers and Real sharers of the Divine maliciously shuts up the opposition ie the billions of genuine people made in the image and likeness of God. And so wonderfully made don’t need to get spaced out on psychotic inducing drugs!

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  • Mr. G. Trabakoulas
  • 10-12-17

The whole book could fit in a chapter

the whole book would fit in the chapter I'm sure the rest was a lot of filler material.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Tom
  • 08-05-17

hoping for more

book was insightful but didn't have enough specifics within to action, just retold stories. it was good, though.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Bachir El Khoury
  • 05-23-18

Not my thing

was a bit mislead and downloaded. interesting to know about Burning man and ecstasy pursuits, but not my thing personally And it could be N addictive self destructive behaviour. I had friend lost for this and it's sad to see it being promoted.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andrew
  • 03-05-20

some great stories and examples <br />

Great examples of the themes and theories listed. A wide diverse collection of various example

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua
  • 11-16-19

A simple message gets lost in a long long story

You have to weed through a lot of pointless stories to get to any real pearls of wisdom. If you find any at all. Much better out there!!

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  • Kathleen McKay
  • 09-05-19

On Fire Everytime

IT's a book which gives you something each time you read it. I gain a gold nugget tip for my life each time

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-25-19

inspirational

great to hear the story of so many greater than life humans walking this way

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-06-19

Great Listen

Loved it. I was hooked from start to finish, very easy to follow and very interesting.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-02-19

Mind Blown

What a interesting view of the world. Definitely a listen to them read book for me.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-06-19

loved it

amazing book. highly enjoyed it. recommended for fellow psychonaughts and those interested in peak performance