Customer Reviews for

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Average Rating 4.5
( 235 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(155)

4 Star

(38)

3 Star

(15)

2 Star

(10)

1 Star

(17)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

A Major Influence

A reviewer of this book once wrote that she defines all the many books she's read into two categories: those "before Ishmael" and "after Ishmael". I agree, but with more muscle...I tend to define my entire worldview (yes, it is THAT provocative!) into ideas I had Befor...
A reviewer of this book once wrote that she defines all the many books she's read into two categories: those "before Ishmael" and "after Ishmael". I agree, but with more muscle...I tend to define my entire worldview (yes, it is THAT provocative!) into ideas I had Before/After Ishmael. I've given away over 20 copies of this book to friends and family with the hope that it will touch the people I love with the same kind of grace I felt when I read it. Truly remarkable.

posted by Jewelies42 on August 21, 2009

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

Phast Phood Philosophy

I read this book as an agreed-upon title for discussion in a book club, otherwise I don't think I could have finished it. The author droned on and on in a simplistic and didactic imitation of the classical and biblical philosophy motifs: dialogue and allegory. In the p...
I read this book as an agreed-upon title for discussion in a book club, otherwise I don't think I could have finished it. The author droned on and on in a simplistic and didactic imitation of the classical and biblical philosophy motifs: dialogue and allegory. In the process, he subverts dialectic and intellectual epiphany into his own personal megaphone for propaganda. He presents tired armchair renditions of Marx and Rousseau, whining for the redistribution of wealth, condemning the great religions, and with a sycophantic paean to the 'noble savage'. Quinn spends the whole book lamenting the development of agriculture and impuning white males as carrying the 'Mark of Cain' in a crudely racist attack. He goes on to extol the dismal falacies of Malthus as inevitable, and longs for his fantasy of everyone returning to a hunter-gatherer 'paradise'. Like all utopians, Quinn is insufferable and is happy to offer a Jacobin solution to famine- let the bastards starve. If these obtuse premises were not bad enough, the writing itself is awful: overextended metaphors,inaccurate historical, anthropological, and philosophical references, and the incredibly annoying voice of the author stroking his own ego through the dialogue. In a world where time is so precious, I resented wasting mine on such pap. I had anticipated hearty 'food for thought' based on recommendations, but ended up instead with a bag of pork rinds. Yeccccch!

posted by Anonymous on February 9, 2007

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 235 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 12
  • Posted August 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Major Influence

    A reviewer of this book once wrote that she defines all the many books she's read into two categories: those "before Ishmael" and "after Ishmael". I agree, but with more muscle...I tend to define my entire worldview (yes, it is THAT provocative!) into ideas I had Before/After Ishmael. I've given away over 20 copies of this book to friends and family with the hope that it will touch the people I love with the same kind of grace I felt when I read it. Truly remarkable.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2007

    Phast Phood Philosophy

    I read this book as an agreed-upon title for discussion in a book club, otherwise I don't think I could have finished it. The author droned on and on in a simplistic and didactic imitation of the classical and biblical philosophy motifs: dialogue and allegory. In the process, he subverts dialectic and intellectual epiphany into his own personal megaphone for propaganda. He presents tired armchair renditions of Marx and Rousseau, whining for the redistribution of wealth, condemning the great religions, and with a sycophantic paean to the 'noble savage'. Quinn spends the whole book lamenting the development of agriculture and impuning white males as carrying the 'Mark of Cain' in a crudely racist attack. He goes on to extol the dismal falacies of Malthus as inevitable, and longs for his fantasy of everyone returning to a hunter-gatherer 'paradise'. Like all utopians, Quinn is insufferable and is happy to offer a Jacobin solution to famine- let the bastards starve. If these obtuse premises were not bad enough, the writing itself is awful: overextended metaphors,inaccurate historical, anthropological, and philosophical references, and the incredibly annoying voice of the author stroking his own ego through the dialogue. In a world where time is so precious, I resented wasting mine on such pap. I had anticipated hearty 'food for thought' based on recommendations, but ended up instead with a bag of pork rinds. Yeccccch!

    7 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2007

    Disappointing--Not worth the effort

    Reading through the back cover, the first few pages of this book, and at some of the reviews for 'Ishmael' gave me hope that this assigned reading was somewhat inspiring or at the very least, thought provoking. It was none of this. Yes, a gorilla and a man converse telepathically about the fate of the world, human destruction of the environment, and how the world came to be this way. Yes, it gives historical and biblical context as to the Big Bang, human evolution, and the mindset that humans are superior to any other species on this planet. But if you are a human and have been living in the past century in any developed nation and have had spare time to think or ponder on the horrors of the world, of the problems that plague this nation and ravage humanity, then you already know all of this. Quinn writes in this annoyingly pretentious and self-righteous tone when describing the story of the 'Leavers' and 'Takers' that it is hard not to fall asleep or balk at his audacity in treating his readers like five-year-olds. On another note, Quinn's views on global population control and food production are discussed and he suggests birth control and restraint from developed nations to aid nations suffering from famine. On a biological and completely clinical diagnosis, yes, we could cut Mother Nature some slack and slow down the population growth and let people starve to death. Quinn, of course, notes that humans are not the ones who dictate what happens, but the gods. It seems completely contradictory that this book is meant to inspire people to save the world at the expense of human lives, at the cost of the human heart and our own souls. So sue me if I want to help Third World nations reeling from famine and poverty. There are, in the real world and outside of Quinn's fantasy land of gorilla-speak, organizations like Heifer International that seek to end world hunger and poverty through self-reliance and sustainability. How this book has inspired people is beyond me. It shows us what humans are capable of, what we have already destroyed, and what we will end up destroying. It is nothing new. What angers me the most is that Quinn offers no real guide or solutions to even aiding this idealistic cause that he so highly regards. Ishmael tells his pupil to teach others what he has learned from these discussions, but this is reality. This is a world where the human race, as Quinn points out, is so flawed beyond belief that we wage wars against the most innocent and undeserving of enemies. It takes more than teachings to change the world and save it from ourselves. It takes real plans, goals, and fresh ideas enforced by a body that is recognized on an international level. This book is idealistic at best, and at its worst, with its nonexistent plot line and boring recount of human history and time, is too optimistic and simplistic to be real. Call me a cynic, but the world did not get to be this way because everyone listened to each other and played nice. What makes Quinn think that saving the world from ourselves should be this easy?

    6 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2002

    justSO - SO

    I was given this book by a friend and told that it was a must read. This is going to be a very unpopular star rating, but... Daniel Quinn is spot-on in saying that Mother Culture has brain washed the masses, even the more enlightened ones.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2007

    phenominal work

    I will agree with those who said this book was hard to get through. It was. I didn't enjoy the style of writing or the tone of the book and I didn't feel a connection to any of the characters. Normally those points would not allow me to enjoy a book at all. The strange thing is that I HAD to get through this book - because the ideas Quinn wanted to convey were so powerful. I always tell people that this book is worth getting through to get the background information and then move on to a much more well written book by the same author, 'The Story of B'.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This book did NOT change my life

    At one point in the story, Ishmael, the gorilla, discusses the Bible story of Cain and Abel. Ishmael says that Cain was a group of people at the beginning of the agriculture revolution around 8,000 B.C. that started farming and Abel was the pastoralistic Semites, the ancestors of the Hebrew people. Ishmael goes on to say that Cain kills Abel for the land and that Abel wrote Genesis 4 to show that God was on their side. But, in Genesis 4, Cain is the pastoralist, or animal herder, and Abel was the farmer. This completely contradicts what Ishmael is attempting to say.

    3 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Preachy uninspiring

    I decided upon this book because I was told it was a must read. If you like preachy books without explanation then this just might be for you. It felt like "The Secret" where the author is demeaning and telling you how you should feel instead of just proving their piece. I do not recommend to any age group. Boring, preachy, slow... etc

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2011

    This book will change your life

    Ishmael will challenge the way you think and live, in a very good way. After reading this book you will want to do anything and everything to save the world.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 8, 2011

    it really will change your life

    I read a lot of reviews on this book before buying, and most of them talked about a life changing experience. Well, I completely agree. This is the story I've always wanted, and it has confirmed the way I've always felt about humanity and the world as a whole. This book well forever change the way you look at the world. By the end of the book I was on the verge of crying. GET THIS BOOK.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Read this book as soon as you can

    I have never come across something that has changed my outlook on life so drastically.

    This is a must read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Change the way you think

    This books seems a bit silly whenever I try to describe it: "Well, you see, a gorilla teaches a man how to save the world." That doesn't do it any kind of justice. What this book will do is change the way you see the world and the people in it. You might start acting a bit differently, start thinking of third-world countries with a bit more respect, and you might start up a conversation with the gorilla at the local zoo. Read this one just to get yourself questioning the world a bit, if for nothing else.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2008

    A life altering story.

    This is a phenomenal story that, while fiction, sets your mind in motion. I have bought several copies because I felt that the people I love just had to read it. All students would benefit from this book as well as the recreational reader.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2008

    Changed My Life

    This book changed my perspective on life, opended my eyes to ideas and enlightenment I never knew existed.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 1, 2013

    Meh. Kind of pretentious.

    Not nearly as eye-opening as Quinn clearly thinks it is, but has some interesting points.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    Horrible. Just horrible. I wasted $14 dollars on this book. I gi

    Horrible. Just horrible. I wasted $14 dollars on this book. I give it a star because I cannot go lower. Honestly, how does Ishmael change people's lives?
    It's about a contradicting gorilla, guys!!! (LIFESAVING ALERT)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    I did not enjoy this book. I admit there were bits of interestin

    I did not enjoy this book. I admit there were bits of interesting parts. However, it felt as if I was almost reading a bible. This is not a favorable feeling. I prefer novels with more of a plot, which Ishmeal, in my opinion, lacks. Although the language is appropriate and the novel is even well written, I detest the story line. I don't recommend this book for those looking for a creative experience. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Life-changing

    This book will make you want to scream shout laugh and sing.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2010

    Didn't like

    Book Review on "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn
    This book review is on the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. In this book a man reads a newspaper article that describes a teacher who is seeking a student with an earnest desire to save the world. The man gets very angry and mad for some reason and throws the article in the trash. The next day he goes to the address written in the newspaper just out of curiosity to see if anyone came. But when he realized no one is there he goes inside and finds a Gorilla. For the rest of the book the Gorilla is teaching the man philosophical material on how mankind is destroying the world. I don't recommend this book for readers like me, teenagers, or anyone younger. But I would recommend this book to adults interested in philosophy.
    The book "Ishmael" is a very slow going and long book. From the side it may not look very large, but when you start reading, it seems much larger than it really is. When I was reading this book I found myself not even paying attention to what was going on. After that I had to go back and start reading at the part where I had just the slightest idea of what was happening, and only after that would I read on.
    The book was very slow at getting to the points that the Gorilla wanted to teach the student. I got the impression the student was not the smartest person around, because I was answering, in my mind, the questions asked by the Gorilla pages before the student even had the closest idea of what the teacher was talking about.
    However, this book does have some good parts to it. For example, the ideas Daniel Quinn is talking about make a lot of sense. Unfortunately I can not give you one of those examples because I would have to put in five pages to get to the point of what is going on.
    So, if you are a teenager like me, I would not recommend this book for the reasons described above, but if you are willing to try to pay attention to what the author is talking about, feel free to read this book. You will only get smarter.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Ever feel like there has to be a better way to live?

    Ishmael was recommended by a friend, and I am very glad it was. What an utterly unique and thought provoking book this is. If you like an intellectual challenge, if you like to have your thoughts and beliefs challenged, then you will enjoy this story.

    A teacher, unlike any other, is looking for a student. The student he is looking for needs to have a strong desire to save the world. The student he gets thinks he knows what he is getting in to, but after his initial shock, he is challenged into having to find the answers buried deep within his own subconscious and in mankind's own history. There are so many interesting facts and ideas brought up in their interactions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2009

    Ishmael: A new insight as to how we became

    Some people believe that the world was created for man, however other species believe that the world was created not only for man, but for all species and creatures; and that man is just a part of the world's species. Will other species continue to evolve and in the future pass the evolved species of man? As our world continues to change and evolve, what will become of man? How can man stop destroying the world?
    "TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person." (Daniel Quinn, P 4) In the beginning, there was man, in the end, no one can predict what lies ahead for the world and all of it's inhabitants. The question is always asked in our society how did man come to be, along with the story that was told by mankind's ancestors? There are many different versions of how mankind came to be in a world full of growth and development. Some believe in the theory of evolution through the rapid development of primitive species. Others seek and find comfort in the story of the gods and the meaning behind Adam and Eve. Many are unsure how man came to be, and no one can really prove who is right in a society filled with opposition and variety.
    The readers of this book will find "Ishmael" not only intriguing but persuasive as well. "From now on I will divide the books I have read into two categories-the ones I read before Ishmael and those read after" (Jim Britell, Whole Earth Review Front Cover) Many readers of Ishmael will find themselves questioning their own beliefs on how man came to be, and how Ishmael has altered entirely the way they view their own actions on this Earth. Readers will be very intrigued by the appearance Ishmael portrays in the book and how the pupil is just a normal human on Earth has his whole life changed due to how Ishmael portrays mankind, him not being human. Ishmael is suspenseful and inventive. The world seeks to fix the flaws that have been caused by mankind however only mankind can fix these flaws in order to survive and continue to conquer in peace with all other species around them.
    Daniel Quinn, the author of Ishmael was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1935, and went on to study at the St. Louis University along with the University of Vienna in Austria, and Loyola University of Chicago. However in 1975, he abandoned a long career in publishing to become a freelance writer which included later writing Ishmael, The Story of B, My Ishmael, Providence, and Beyond Civilization. (www.ishmael.org) Ishmael was originally written in 1977. It ended up being written six different times until the final copy was published in 1990. Daniel Quinn has written over a dozen books, and Ishmael was the inspiration and plot behind the 1999 film, Instinct starring Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding, Jr. This film received the Genesis award in 2000.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 235 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 12