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Barry Eisler quotes (showing 1-30 of 153)

“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
“It's a strange thing, having a child," he said. It completely alters your most fundamental priorities. When my eldest daughter was born, I realized that I would do anything - anything - to protect her. If I had to set myself on fire to save her from something, I would do it with the utmost relief and gratitude. It's quite a thing, quite a privilege, to care about someone so much that the measure of worth of your own life is changed so much."

Tatsu.”
Barry Eisler, Redemption Games
“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
“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
“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
“Sometimes I think the urge to believe in our own worldview is our most powerful intellectual imperative, the mind's equivalent of feeding, fighting, and fornicating. People will eagerly twist facts into wholly unrecognizable shapes to fit them into existing suppositions. They'll ignore the obvious, select the irrelevant, and spin it all into a tapestry of self-deception, solely to justify an idea, no matter how impoverished or self-destructive.”
Barry Eisler, Extremis
“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
“But it’s like swimming underwater, you know? At first you feel as though you could go along forever, seeing everything from this new perspective, but eventually you have to come up for air.”
Barry Eisler, A Clean Kill in Tokyo
“— 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
“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
“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
“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
“In my unfortunately infrequent encounters with real passion, I'm rarely as careful as I ought to be. The rationalization goes something like: With all the bullets and mortar rounds I've survived, I must be immune to sexually transmitted diseases. Stupid, I know. More likely, fate will indulge its taste for irony by killing me with AIDS os some other unpleasant alternative.”
Barry Eisler, Winner Take All
“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
“Fat droplets of rain started spattering against the city’s concrete skin, against the glass windows of its eyes. A few people with umbrellas opened them. The rest ran for cover. I walked on, through it all. I tried to think of it as a baptism, a new beginning. Maybe it was. But what a lonely resurrection.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection
“There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn’t work.                            —Irving Kristol”
Barry Eisler, Inside Out
“We could go from bliss and harmony to anger and recriminations as fast and with as little warning as a tropical storm. What made it bearable, what made it good, was that the foul weather would pass with equal suddenness, usually leaving something glorious in its wake.”
Barry Eisler, The Killer Ascendant
“The person who returns from living abroad isn't the same person who left originally... Your outlook changes. You don't take things for granted that you used to. For instance, I noticed in New York that when one cab cut off another, the driver who got cut off would always yell at the other driver... and I realized this was because Americans assume that the other person intended to do what he did, so they want to teach the person a lesson. But you know, in Japan, people almost never get upset in those situations. Japanese look at other people's mistakes more as something arbitrary, like the weather, I think, not so much as something to get angry about.”
Barry Eisler, Rain Fall
“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
“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
“after our split, I wanted to believe that whatever had been between us was unique, that it could never happen again. Because if it was exceptional, it must be an exception, maybe even the exception that proved the rule. And the rule was that I would always be alone, and could never trust anyone.”
Barry Eisler, Extremis
“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
“And I resented you for that,” she went on, “because I’ve always believed hate is such an unworthy emotion. So weak and ultimately pointless.” I marveled briefly at how innocent a life someone would have to have led for such a philosophy to emerge credible and intact, and for a second I loved her for it.”
Barry Eisler, A Lonely Resurrection

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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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Extremis (John Rain, #5) Extremis
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