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Barry Eisler quotes (showing 1-30 of 81)

“If you focus on the risks, they'll multiply in your mind and eventually paralyze you. You want to focus on the task, instead, on doing what needs to be done.”
Barry Eisler
“I wandered the earth a mercenary, daring the gods to kill me but surviving because part of me was already dead.”
Barry Eisler, A Clean Kill in Tokyo
“...savoring the sense of loneliness and freedom that comes only from solitary sojourns in strange lands...”
Barry Eisler
“People have rituals for communing with the dead, rituals that depend more on the idiosyncrasies of the individual than on the influence of culture. Some visit gravesites. Some talk to portraits, or mantelpiece urns. Some go to spots favored by the deceased during life, or mouth silent prayers in houses of worship, or have trees planted in memory in some far-off land. The common denominator, of course, is a sense beyond logic that the dead are aware of all this, that they can hear the prayers and witness the deeds and feel the ongoing love and longing. People seem to find that sense comforting. I don’t believe any of it. I’ve never seen a soul depart from a body. I’ve never been haunted by a ghost, angry or loving. I’ve never been rewarded or punished or touched by some traveler from the undiscovered country. I know as well as I know anything the dead are simply dead.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“In my unpleasant experience, unarmed against a knife, you’ve basically got four options. Your best bet is to run like hell, if you can. Next best is to do something immediately that prevents the attack from getting started. Third is to create distance so you can deploy a longer-range weapon. Fourth is to go berserk and hope not to get fatally cut going through and over your attacker. I don’t care how much training you’ve had, these are your only realistic options, and none of them is particularly good except maybe the first. Unarmed techniques against the knife are a crapshoot, and against a determined attacker with a live blade, they offer piss-poor odds.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“— E acabei por ir a casa dela para lhe configurar o sistema todo.

— Harry, «configuraste-lhe o sistema todo»? — perguntei, arregalando

os olhos e fingindo-me pasmado.

Baixou o olhar, mas não conseguiu esconder um sorriso.

— Tu percebeste.

— Não vais... penetrar as seguranças dela, pois não? — perguntei, incapaz

de resistir.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“It took me a long time to learn that proving people wrong is purposeless, fighting stupidity is futile, and formal recognition prevents people from underestimating you—and thereby from ceding to you surprise and other tactical advantages.”
Barry Eisler, Graveyard of Memories
“killing is the ultimate expression of hatred and fear, as sex is the ultimate expression of romantic love and desire. And, as with sex, killing a stranger who has otherwise provoked no emotion is inherently unnatural. I suppose you could say that a man who kills a stranger is not unlike a woman who has sex under analogous circumstances. That a man who is paid to kill is like a woman who is paid to fuck. Certainly the man is subject to the same reluctance, the same numbing, the same regrets. The same damage to the soul.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“If I have to err, it’s on the side of assuming the worst. This way, if I’m wrong, I can always apologize. Or send flowers. You err on the other side, the flowers will be coming to you.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“I thought of an old poker players’ expression: If you look around the table and can’t spot the sucker, the sucker is you.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“If there’s one lesson I learned early on during the decades I’ve spent in this business, it’s that of all the qualities that distinguish a hard target from everyone else, among the most important is self-control. Yes, you have to be able to think like the opposition, which enables you to spot the ambush. And yes, you have to be able to take immediate, violent action in case—oops—your ability to spot the ambush fails. And yes, sentiment is a weakness. But fundamental to the rest is self-control. Because if you’re not in control of yourself, someone else is, most likely an enemy, and in my business, an enemy isn’t someone who wants the promotion you’re after, or who covets your corner office, or who wants to beat you on the tennis court or golf course or display a better car in his driveway. In my business, an enemy is someone determined to end your life, and probably with the means to bring it about.”
Barry Eisler, Graveyard of Memories
“It’s funny to consider how important things like that felt to me then. Proving people wrong. Fighting stupidity. Wanting formal recognition. It took me a long time to learn that proving people wrong is purposeless, fighting stupidity is futile, and formal recognition prevents people from underestimating you—and thereby from ceding to you surprise and other tactical advantages.”
Barry Eisler, Graveyard of Memories
“A monk awoke from a dream that he was a butterfly, then wondered whether he was a butterfly dreaming he was a man.”
Barry Eisler, A Clean Kill in Tokyo
“Relax,” he said again, probably reading my thoughts from my expression. “I’ll get you the other file.” I considered telling him what would happen if he didn’t, but recognized that doing so would have been childish, the product of ego. Worse, because he already knew what would happen, verbalizing it could only serve to dilute the strength of the threat. Because why would anyone waste breath describing what was already axiomatic? I didn’t realize it right away, but that was a big moment in my development. Self-awareness leading to self-control. I had a long way to go, but you have to start somewhere.”
Barry Eisler, Graveyard of Memories
“Sometimes I go to her Facebook page. It’s silly, I know. Pathetic. And every time I do, I promise myself next time I’ll be stronger. I don’t even know what impels me. Why are the most painful memories also the sweetest; why does the sweetness always draw us back no matter how long the pain might have kept us away beforehand? I don’t know, any more than I know why sometimes I have to sit in the dark and listen to Terumasa Hino playing “Alone, Alone and Alone.” I just do. I can’t seem to help periodically disinterring that little box of memories, no matter how lachrymose its contents. I try to stop. But sometimes there’s just what you can do, and what you can’t.”
Barry Eisler, Graveyard of Memories
“Some vicious thing inside me stirred. I felt it in my gut, the back of my neck, my hands. I thought of Musashi, the master swordsman, who wrote, You must think of neither victory nor of defeat, but only of cutting and killing your enemy.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“I could feel her soft shape, the heat of her, conducted with electric clarity through the wet of our clothes. I felt my body responding. I knew she felt it, too. Ah, shit.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“Between her hand over my heart and her hips at my crotch, she might as well have been administering a polygraph.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“I looked out at the street beyond the overhang. The rain was coming in at gray angled streaks. One of my hands moved to her cheek. I closed my eyes. Her skin was wet from the rain and I thought of tears.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“sold to the public on false pretenses, high officials confessing to ordering torture in violation of treaty and domestic law, and an economic meltdown even former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan acknowledges involved massive fraud—and no one has been prosecuted, no one has gone to prison, and Americans continue to dutifully cast their votes for the Democratic/Republican duopoly responsible for these disasters.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“Then she reached lower and started to ease my pants down. I stopped her so I could get my shoes and socks off first. Pants-pooled-at-the-ankles is too helpless a posture for me.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“I didn’t say, “I’ll call you.” I didn’t hug her because of the wet clothes. Just a quick kiss. Then I turned and left. I made my way quietly down the hallway to the stairwell. I could tell she thought she wasn’t going to see me again. I had to admit she might be right. The knowledge was as damp and dispiriting as my sodden clothes. I came to the first floor and looked out at the entranceway of the building. For a second I pictured the way she had hugged me here. It already seemed like a long time ago. I felt an unpleasant mixture of gratitude and longing, streaked with guilt and regret. And in a flash of insight, cutting with cold clarity through the fog of my fatigue, I realized what I hadn’t been able to articulate earlier, not even to myself, when she’d asked me what I was afraid of. It had been this, the moment after, when I would come face to face with knowing that it would all end badly, if not this morning, then the next one. Or the one after that.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“Shoganai,” I said. Literally, There is no way of doing it. “Yes,” he said, nodding. “Elsewhere they have Cest la vie, or That’s life.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“I sighed. Two goodbyes in one night. It was depressing. And it wasn’t as though I had a whole Rolodex full of friends. But no sense being sentimental about it. Sentiment is stupid.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“I’ve gotten used to hoping for so little that I seem to have lost any natural immunity to the emotion’s infection.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“Asian face and local language skills to handle the cash. I had just returned to the States from Vietnam, having left the military under a cloud, the origins of which I was able to understand only years later. My mother, the American half of the marriage, had just died; I had no brothers or sisters;”
Barry Eisler, Graveyard of Memories
“I thought of how Midori had once articulated the idea of mono no aware, a sensibility that, though frequently obscured during cherry blossom viewing by the cacophony of drunken doggerel and generator-powered television sets, remains steadfast in one of the two cultures from which I come. She had called it “the sadness of being human.” A wise, accepting sadness, she had said. I admired her for the depths of character such a description indicated. For me, sad has always been a synonym for bitter, and I suspect this will always be so.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“It seemed he’d recently learned the value of playing up the difficulty of accomplishing whatever he was tasked with, the better to play the hero when he subsequently pulled it off. He was overusing the technique the way a child overuses a new word.”
Barry Eisler, All the Rain: Part One
“My mother would have wanted me to say a prayer, crossing myself at its conclusion, and had this been her grave, I would have done so. But such a western ritual would have been an insult to my father in his life, and why would I do something to offend him now? I smiled. It was hard to avoid that kind of thinking. My father was dead. Still, I offered no prayer.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“It’s been my experience that people who can express their political views only in clichés and passionate generalizations are fanatics.”
Barry Eisler, The Killer Ascendant

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Barry Eisler
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A Clean Kill in Tokyo (John Rain, #1) A Clean Kill in Tokyo
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A Lonely Resurrection (John Rain, #2) A Lonely Resurrection
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Redemption Games (John Rain, #4) Redemption Games
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