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Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

Ishmael (original 1992; edition 1993)

by Daniel Quinn

Series: Ishmael (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,88386945 (3.94)48
Authors:Daniel Quinn
Info:Bantam Books (1993), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, Philosophy, History, Anarchism, Culture

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

English (85)  German (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 85 (next | show all)
In this utterly captivating work, Daniel Quinn thrusts his protagonist into dialogue with a telepathic gorilla. What follows is, by all accounts, an interesting and developed philosophical position on the human condition and our relation to the ecosystem. Quinn animates his characters with clever, meaningful dialogue, rendering his ideas at once thought-provoking and readable. I disagree with a majority of Quinn's positions on narratology, ecology, human ethics, and interpretation of scripture, yet it will remain on my bookshelf forever as a beautifully written example of unpretentious philosophizing. ( )
  charlescf | Sep 30, 2016 |
My cousin told me about this book and I'm so glad that I read it. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
Food for thought. Give it a go. My professor of Conservation Biology brought this book up and a few points mentioned. I can understand the criticism but I say read it for the ideas and honestly... forget the characters this isn't really a "story" ( )
  wolfeyluvr | Jun 22, 2016 |
Noble Savage returns, this time as a Happy Leaver.

Ishmael, a genius telepathic gorilla no less, splits humans into two kinds: Takers and Leavers. Leavers good, Takers bad, and we are the Takers. Leavers are those living in hunter-gatherer, or other non-urbanised communities around the world. Happier, healthier and stronger than we are, and we are but victims of a grand deception by Mother Culture that the Leavers' life is misery not even a poorest, most hopeless Taker would want to exchange his fate for.

It's probably true that those called Leavers are on average healthier, stronger and happier than us Takers living in modern Western societies, but there's also the other part to that: those Leavers who weren't healthy and strong enough are dead. The Leavers' world while perhaps not a misery from their point of view, was certainly no idyll of a happy, untroubled life in accordance with Mother Nature. It is a life where more than every other child born alive dies of disease before ten and one labour in ten to fifteen is fatal for the mother.

Now, it's one of the greatest unknowns of humanity: why did the great Leaver-Taker (I'll use the names throughout) split eventually occur around ten thousand years back. If a Leaver's life is no paradise, the more we know about the earliest agricultural and urban communities, the more early Taker's life is plain and simple hell. Worse nutrition, greater exposure to communicable diseases, shorter life span, all of this should have ended this Taker experiment fast, yet it didn't. Cities thrived even though moving into an ancient city was like entering the Darwin Award contest.

So what it was that made people opt for a sedentary life, and this at least several times? We do not know, but it must have been based on a powerful ideology. Some see religion here, but I think it's wrong: non-sedentary people are religious as well, and despite what Quinn claims in the book, their life is guided by religious thought. Again, we do not know, but blaming religion - any religion - is nonsense.

Quinn's (or the gorilla's) anthropological ineptitude notwithstanding, we are where we are. Humankind's ability to destroy the planet seems grossly exaggerated, but our civilisation is certainly harmful to other beings and, above all, to itself. Indeed, unless a real catastrophe like a global nuclear war happens, the human civilisation will be the most significant victim of human civilisation. Yes, it's true that animal populations go extinct every day, but this was happening all the time for millions of years and once human civilisation is removed animal life will be very soon rebuilt.

This means that if we like our civilisation - and despite all its faults I certainly do - we must do something to stabilise the conditions we exist in on the planet. Neither Quinn nor the gorilla have any specific proposal, I did not understand them to have advocated the abandonment of the civilisation and return to the hunter-gatherer living. They'd rather we found a way to Leave as much as we can without losing really important achievements of the Taker civilisation. This I certainly agree with.

Nevertheless, the book's argument is so flawed, so illogical, so absurd that this book should be avoided by anyone except perhaps to demonstrate that left-wing environmentalists can also be pathetic idiots. ( )
  igorterleg | Jan 24, 2016 |
This book had me from the beginning to the end. I read it completely through. It made me thing and grabbed my heart. It is a must read!!!! ( )
  Cshantay | Dec 4, 2015 |
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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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