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Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit…

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit (original 1992; edition 1995)

by Daniel Quinn

Series: Ishmael (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,99291910 (3.94)48
Title:Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit
Authors:Daniel Quinn
Info:Bantam (1995), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 263 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (1992)

  1. 50
    My Ishmael by Daniel Quinn (teelgee)
    teelgee: Sequel, every bit as good.
  2. 20
    Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization by Derrick Jensen (owen1218)
  3. 10
    Civilized Man's Eight Deadly Sins by Konrad Lorenz (Lucy_Skywalker)
    Lucy_Skywalker: but without being didactic and irritating
  4. 21
    The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure by James Redfield (amyblue)
  5. 00
    The Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs (aneurysm1985)
    aneurysm1985: Both are about similar social-ecological issues. And both are the result of the authors (Quinn and Jacobs) enlightening readers about non-fiction topics through the use of fictional characters and Platonic dialogue. Both novels are written with the overarching purpose of educating their readers about unfamiliar topics.… (more)
  6. 00
    We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (KatyBee)
  7. 01
    Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder (weeksj10)
    weeksj10: Their both lecture style novels which use fiction to present a variety of different thoughts and philosophies.
  8. 23
    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: Another perspective on the spread of our culture and civilization.

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» See also 48 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 90 (next | show all)
Buddy read with Cristal.
  lapiccolina | Jun 23, 2017 |
Well, I've dwelled far too long on calling this read officially "finished" here. I read this when it came out, again some ten years later, and most recently (now, obviously) when we assigned it to our two teen homeschooled sons. The first time annoyed the hell out of me - despite the core message, the didactic, heavy-handed, abusive approach was too off-putting. For the first re-read, I decided to ignore everything that annoyed me and try to glean the true substance of Quinn's point, so that I could relate if necessary. I had moderate success with the former objective, and more so with the latter. Then, there is this re-read...

It's still annoying. Probably more so now that I'm older and have less patience for the didactic. And frankly, the core message is lost in the presentation. I determined this when trying to discuss it with my very intuitive sons. "Why did he say [this or that]?" too often ended with me searching the net for some kind of answer that was not colored by my biases. I realized that no one else had much value to add...leastwise, all the study guides were (okay, I'll qualify this with in MY opinion) nonsense.

Here's the rub for all the negative reviews: "Philosophy 101"? Um, okay...but philosophy itself is subjective rot, and few people take a course anyway. "Didatctic"? No argument there. But if something is so obvious, yet completely ignored, perhaps that's the only way to get through to the reader. Now, I seriously doubt that anyone not familiar with the core message would actually read the book...they're busy watching "reality" television and listening to "conservative" media.

There are two very good points in this book wrapped in the obfuscation, and without spoilers, I'll just say that one involves the word "finally" and the other, and little more maudlin, involves the word "hope".

I do recommend this, if only to see a different perspective. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Extraordinarily wonderful! ( )
  bigzach1984 | Apr 30, 2017 |
I read this in one sitting, because it's amazing. Few books I would recommend this enthusiastically to such a wide array of people, but "Ishmael" is one of them. All I will say about it is that it is the sort of book — collection of ideas, really — that make your mind explode. An explosion that is thoroughly worth it, if you enjoy thinking about anything. ( )
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
Surprisingly enough, I only recently heard of Ishmael, and came by it very strongly recommended.

It's actually a monologue in the shell of a novel. I find this cumbersome. As it's a philosophical text, I feel the author would have done better to either just lay out his thesis, or weave an actual myth around his beliefs. Instead, he accomplished an awkward in-between.

Maybe the book was ground-breaking in 1992, but at this point, it feels somewhat irrelevant and outdated. For example, one tenant of the book is that civilization has taken people down the wrong road. But this polarizing dichotomy [indigenous people got it right and everyone else is just wasting their time] isn't very compelling. Try on Charles Eisenstein's perspectives instead: what if our journey of separation has been necessary for the next chapter? Regardless of what's accurate, the second is a more useful and will-generating belief.

I find Ishmael's attitude tiresome. Much of the book has to do with our protagonist not "trying" hard enough. All of this dialogue feels unnecessary, and doesn't really relate to the message.

Certainly, humans need to learn to work within the laws of nature, but this was part of my upbringing, and feels naive in this setting. I feel as though the discourse has developed much since this book was written. That said, it's not as though America has internalized the message yet.

I think the most fascinating part of the book was the perspective that Adam & Eve is the origin story of civilization told by indigenous groups [in a negative light]. ( )
  willszal | Nov 20, 2016 |
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Five years ago the world was introduced to Ishmael - a gorilla with a revolutionary story to tell, a story no human had ever heard before. A book of resounding truth and hope, and one that is arguably more important now than when it was first published, Ishmael offers readers an entirely new perspective on humanity's relationship to the world. Now, once again, Ishmael is available in hardcover in this very special Fifth Anniversary Edition, containing many revisions and additions to the original. This edition also includes a fascinating preface in which Daniel Quinn offers his own explanation as to why Ishmael has become such a beloved and controversial book.… (more)

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