Customer Reviews for

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Average Rating 4.5
( 234 )
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(154)

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(38)

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(15)

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(10)

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(17)

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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

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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

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2007

    Couldn't finish it.

    I picked this book up at a thrift store. I love to think and I spend a lot of time wondering about the world and my place in it. I question my existance daily. I read the first five chapters or so and then skipped to the last chapter. I found it tedious to read and ideas he puts forth are not new or inspiring. I was so disappointed. I guess it might be an ok book for those people who were forced to read it and had never thought about these things before.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2013

    Non

    It sucks the story is very weird and a talking gorilla thats just stupid as hell and at the was very stupid but over all i dont like it at all dont buy it at all

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