Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

by Daniel Quinn, Mdaniel Quinn

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Overview

One of the most beloved and bestselling novels of spiritual adventure ever published, Ishmael has earned a passionate following among readers and critics alike. This special twenty-fifth anniversary edition features a new foreword and afterword by the author, as well as an excerpt from My Ishmael.

TEACHER SEEKS PUPIL.
Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.

It was just a three-line ad in the personals section, but it launched the adventure of a lifetime.

So begins an utterly unique and captivating novel. In Ishmael, which received the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship for the best work of fiction offering positive solutions to global problems, Daniel Quinn parses humanity’s origins and its relationship with nature, in search of an answer to this challenging question: How can we save the world from ourselves?
 
Praise for Ishmael

“As suspenseful, inventive, and socially urgent as any fiction or nonfiction you are likely to read this or any other year.”The Austin Chronicle

“Before we’re halfway through this slim book . . . we’re in [Daniel Quinn’s] grip, we want Ishmael to teach us how to save the planet from ourselves. We want to change our lives.”The Washington Post

“Arthur Koestler, in an essay in which he wondered whether mankind would go the way of the dinosaur, formulated what he called the Dinosaur’s Prayer: ‘Lord, a little more time!’ Ishmael does its bit to answer that prayer and may just possibly have bought us all a little more time.”Los Angeles Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553375404
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1995
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 18,602
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.16(h) x 0.65(d)

About the Author

Daniel Quinn grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and studied at St. Louis University, the University of Vienna, and Loyola University of Chicago. He worked in Chicago-area publishing for twenty years before beginning work on the book for which he is best known, Ishmael. In 1991, this book was chosen from among some 2,500 international entrants in the Turner Tomorrow competition to win the half-million dollar prize for a novel offering “creative and positive solutions to global problems.” It has subsequently sold more than a million copies in English, is available in some thirty languages, and has been used in high schools and colleges worldwide in courses as varied as philosophy, geography, ecology, archaeology, history, biology, zoology, anthropology, political science, economics, and sociology. Subsequent works include Providence, The Story of B, My Ishmael: A Sequel, Beyond Civilization, After Dachau, The Holy, At Woomeroo, The Invisibility of Success, and The Teachings. Daniel Quinn died in 2018.

Read an Excerpt

1


The first time I read the ad, I choked and cursed and spat and threw the paper to the floor. Since even this didn’t seem to be quite enough, I snatched it up, marched into the kitchen, and shoved it into the trash. While I was there, I made myself a little breakfast and gave myself some time to cool down. I ate and thought about something else entirely. That’s right. Then I dug the paper out of the trash and turned back to the Personals section, just to see if the damn thing was still there and just the way I remembered it. It was.


TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.


An earnest desire to save the world! Oh, I liked that. That was rich indeed. An earnest desire to save the world–yes, that was splendid. By noon, two hundred mooncalfs, softheads, boobies, ninnyhammers, noodleheads, gawkies, and assorted oafs and thickwits would doubtless be lined up at the address given, ready to turn over all their worldlies for the rare privilege of sitting at the feet of some guru pregnant with the news that all will be well if everyone will just turn around and give his neighbor a big hug.

You will wonder: Why is this man so indignant? So bitter? It’s a fair question. In fact, it’s a question I was asking myself.

The answer goes back to a time, a couple decades ago, when I’d had the silly notion that the thing I most wanted to do in the world was . . . to find a teacher. That’s right. I imagined I wanted a teacher–needed a teacher. To show me how one goes about doing something that might be called . . . saving the world.

Stupid, no? Childish. Naïve. Simple. Callow. Or just fundamentally dumb. In one so manifestly normal in other respects, it needs explaining.

It came about in this way.

During the children’s revolt of the sixties and seventies, I was just old enough to understand what these kids had in mind–they meant to turn the world upside down–and just young enough to believe they might actually succeed. It’s true. Every morning when I opened my eyes, I expected to see that the new era had begun, that the sky was a brighter blue and the grass a brighter green. I expected to hear laughter in the air and to see people dancing in the streets, and not just kids–everyone! I won’t apologize for my naïveté; you only have to listen to the songs to know that I wasn’t alone.

Then one day when I was in my mid-teens, I woke up and realized that the new era was never going to begin. The revolt hadn’t been put down, it had just dwindled away into a fashion statement. Can I have been the only person in the world who was disillusioned by this? Bewildered by this? It seemed so. Everyone else seemed to be able to pass it off with a cynical grin that said, “Well, what did you really expect? There’s never been any more than this and never will be any more than this. Nobody’s out to save the world, because nobody gives a damn about the world, that was just a bunch of goofy kids talking. Get a job, make some money, work till you’re sixty, then move to Florida and die.”

I couldn’t shrug it away like this, and in my innocence I thought there had to be someone out there with an unknown wisdom who could dispel my disillusionment and bewilderment: a teacher.

Well, of course there wasn’t.

I didn’t want a guru or a kung fu master or a spiritual director.

I didn’t want to become a sorcerer or learn the zen of archery or meditate or align my chakras or uncover past incarnations. Arts and disciplines of that kind are fundamentally selfish; they’re all designed to benefit the pupil–not the world. I was after something else entirely, but it wasn’t in the Yellow Pages or anywhere else that I could discover.

In Hermann Hesse’s The Journey to the East, we never find out what Leo’s awesome wisdom consists of. This is because Hesse couldn’t tell us what he himself didn’t know. He was like me–he just yearned for there to be someone in the world like Leo, someone with a secret knowledge and a wisdom beyond his own. In fact, of course, there is no secret knowledge; no one knows anything that can’t be found on a shelf in the public library. But I didn’t know that then.

So I looked. Silly as it sounds now, I looked. By comparison, going after the Grail would have made more sense. I won’t talk about it, it’s too embarrassing. I looked until I wised up. I stopped making a fool of myself, but something died inside of me–something that I’d always sort of liked and admired. In its place grew a scar–a tough spot but also a sore spot.

And now, years after I’d given up the search, here was some charlatan advertising in the newspaper for the very same young dreamer that I’d been fifteen years ago.

But this still doesn’t explain my outrage, does it?

Try this: You’ve been in love with someone for a decade–someone who barely knows you’re alive. You’ve done everything, tried everything to make this person see that you’re a valuable, estimable person, and that your love is worth something. Then one day you open up the paper and glance at the Personals column, and there you see that your loved one has placed an ad . . . seeking someone worthwhile to love and be loved by.

Oh, I know it’s not exactly the same. Why should I have expected this unknown teacher to have contacted me instead of advertising for a pupil? Contrariwise, if this teacher was a charlatan, as I assumed, why would I have wanted him to contact me?

Let it go, I was being irrational. It happens, it’s allowed.

2


I had to go down there, of course–had to satisfy myself that it was just another scam. You understand. Thirty seconds would do it, a single look, ten words out of his mouth. Then I’d know. Then I could go home and forget about it.

When I got there, I was surprised to find it was a very ordinary sort of office building, full of second-rate flacks, lawyers, dentists, travel agents, a chiropractor, and a private investigator or two. I’d expected something a little more atmospheric–a brownstone with paneled walls, high ceilings, and shuttered windows, perhaps. I was looking for Room 105, and I found it in the back, where a window would overlook the alley. The door was uninformative. I pushed it open and stepped into a large, empty room. This uncommon space had been created by knocking down interior partitions, the marks of which could still be seen on the bare hardwood floor.

That was my first impression: emptiness. The second was olfactory; the place reeked of the circus–no, not the circus, the menagerie: unmistakable but not unpleasant. I looked around. The room was not entirely empty. Against the wall at the left stood a small bookcase containing thirty or forty volumes, mainly on history, prehistory, and anthropology. A lone overstuffed chair stood in the middle, facing away, toward the wall at the right, and looking like something the movers had left behind. Doubtless this was reserved for the master; his pupils would kneel or crouch on mats arranged in a semicircle at his knee.

And where were these pupils, who I had predicted would be present by the hundreds? Had they perhaps come and been led away like the children of Hamelin? A film of dust lay undisturbed on the floor to disprove this fancy.

There was something odd about the room, but it took me another look round to figure out what it was. In the wall opposite the door stood two tall casement windows admitting a feeble light from the alley; the wall to the left, common with the office next door, was blank. The wall to the right was pierced by a very large plate-glass window, but this was plainly not a window to the outside world, for it admitted no light at all; it was a window into an adjacent room, even dimmer than the one I occupied. I wondered what object of piety was displayed there, safely beyond the touch of inquisitive hands. Was it some embalmed Yeti or Bigfoot, made of cat fur and papier-mâché? Was it the body of a UFOnaut cut down by a National Guardsman before he could deliver his sublime message from the stars (“We are brothers. Be nice.”)?

Because it was backed by darkness, the glass in this window was black–opaque, reflective. I made no attempt to see beyond it as I approached; I was the spectacle under observation. On arrival, I continued to gaze into my own eyes for a moment, then rolled the focus forward beyond the glass–and found myself looking into another pair of eyes.

I fell back, startled. Then, recognizing what I’d seen, I fell back again, now a little frightened.

The creature on the other side of the glass was a full-grown gorilla.

Full-grown says nothing, of course. He was terrifyingly enormous, a boulder, a sarsen of Stonehenge. His sheer mass was alarming in itself, even though he wasn’t using it in any menacing way. On the contrary, he was half-sitting, half-reclining most placidly, nibbling delicately on a slender branch he carried in his left hand like a wand.

I did not know what to say. You will be able to judge how unnerved I was by this fact: that it seemed to me I should speak–excuse myself, explain my presence, justify my intrusion, beg the creature’s pardon. I felt it was an affront to gaze into his eyes, but I was paralyzed, helpless. I could look at nothing else in the world but his face, more hideous than any other in the animal kingdom because of its similarity to our own, yet in its way more noble than any Greek ideal of perfection.

There was in fact no obstacle between us. The pane of glass would have parted like a tissue had he touched it. But he seemed to have no idea of touching it. He sat and gazed into my eyes and nibbled the end of his branch and waited. No, he wasn’t waiting; he was merely there, had been there before I arrived and would be there when I’d left. I had the feeling I was of no more significance to him when a passing cloud is to a shepherd resting on a hillside.

As my fear began to ebb, consciousness of my situation returned. I said to myself that the teacher was plainly not on hand, that there was nothing to keep me there, that I should go home. But I didn’t like to leave with the feeling that I’d accomplished nothing at all. I looked around, thinking I’d leave a note, if I could find something to write on (and with), but there was nothing. Nevertheless, this search, with the thought of written communication in mind, brought to my attention something I’d overlooked in the room that lay beyond the glass; it was a sign or poster hanging on the wall behind the gorilla. It read:

WITH MAN GONE,
WILL THERE
BE HOPE
FOR GORILLA?

This sign stopped me–or rather, this text stopped me. Words are my profession; I seized these and demanded that they explain themselves, that they cease to be ambiguous. Did they imply that hope for gorillas lay in the extinction of the human race or in its survival? It could be read either way.

It was, of course, a koan–meant to be inexplicable. It disgusted me for that reason, and for another reason: because it appeared that this magnificent creature beyond the glass was being held in captivity for no other reason than to serve as a sort of animate illustration for this koan.

You really ought to do something about this, I told myself angrily. Then I added: It would be best if you sat down and were still.

I listened to the echo of this strange admonishment as if it were a fragment of music I couldn’t quite identify. I looked at the chair and wondered: Would it be best to sit down and be still? And if so, why? The answer came readily enough: Because, if you are still, then you will be better able to hear. Yes, I thought, that is undeniably so.

For no conscious reason, I lifted my eyes to those of my beastly companion in the next room. As everyone knows, eyes speak. A pair of strangers can effortlessly reveal their mutual interest and attraction in a single glance. His eyes spoke, and I understood. My legs turned to jelly, and I barely managed to reach the chair without collapsing.

“But how?” I said, not daring to speak the words aloud.

“What does it matter?” he replied as silently. “It’s so, and nothing more needs to be said.”

“But you–” I sputtered. “You are . . .”

I found that, having come to the word, and with no other word to put in its place, I could not speak it.

After a moment he nodded, as if in acknowledgment of my difficulty. “I am the teacher.”

For a time, we gazed into each other’s eyes, and my head felt as empty as a derelict barn.

Then he said: “Do you need time to collect yourself?”

“Yes!” I cried, speaking aloud for the first time.

He turned his massive head to one side to peer at me curiously. “Will it help you to listen to my story?”

“Indeed it will,” I said. “But first–if you will–please tell me your name.”

He stared at me for a while without replying and (as far as I could tell at that time) without expression. Then he proceeded as if I hadn’t spoken at all.

“I was born somewhere in the forests of equatorial West Africa,” he said. “I’ve never made any effort to find out exactly where, and see no reason to do so now. Do you happen to know anything about animal collecting for zoos and circurses?”

I looked up, startled. “I know nothing at all about animal collecting.”

“At one time, or at least during the thirties, the method commonly used with gorillas was this: On finding a band, collectors would shoot the females and pick up all the infants in sight.”

“How terrible,” I said, without thinking.

The creature replied with a shrug. “I have no actual memory of the event–though I have memories of still earlier times. In any case, the Johnsons sold me to a zoo in some small northeastern city–I can’t say which, for I had no awareness of such things as yet. There I lived and grew for several years.”

He paused and nibbled absentmindedly on his branch for a while, as if gathering his thoughts.

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Ishmael (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 264 reviews.
Jewelies42 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Guest More than 1 year ago
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'.
Emery42 More than 1 year ago
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.
JAJbooks More than 1 year ago
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.
Brigit More than 1 year ago
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.
cap_man More than 1 year ago
I have never come across something that has changed my outlook on life so drastically. This is a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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. 
LunaLovegood69 More than 1 year ago
I was recommended this book by a fellow co-worker. I'm a opened minded new age hippy for say. I'm not someone who can get into alot of books unless its Harry Potter. This book got me to open my eyes with the Mother Culture has brain washed our life style. Leavers and Takers as well. The book had many good points as well. I wanted to save the world before and this book just gave me more of a reason to save it now. This is such an amazing book the person who recommended it to me asked to barrow it and read it again, as well as this book will be held onto for future re-reading.
therealangiemccoy More than 1 year ago
thought provoking, easy to read. a message that will stay with you forever.
RedShikari More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book changed my perspective on life, opended my eyes to ideas and enlightenment I never knew existed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quinn brings up ideas that society has been recycling for ages. Although the basis of his ideas are not unique, he portrayed them in a way that left readers thinking. The reader can easily tell that the purpose of Quinn¿s book was to ¿help save the world¿. Although this idea sounds ridiculous, he offers information that is socially significant. While his ideas present positive solutions to universal problems, he tends to ramble. He never reaches past the foundation of the ideas to make the fiction piece more organic. However, it seems that Quinn¿s purpose was not to make an artistic story, but to plainly help humans relate to their world. This book points out the flaws in society, and easily changes the way the reader views the world¿s situation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
nhurst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ishmael was a book recommended to me from all sides; I heard it had changed Jeff Earnest's life, Mr. Reed said it was great, and anyone who had ever heard of it immediately ordered me to read it. The book has a very simple plot; a huge gorilla relates the story of mankind and the world to the narrator over a course of time. There's a minimal plot concerning the origins of Ishmael the gorilla and what goes on with him in the real world, but the vast majority of the novel is just a discussion of the role humans have played in the world in the past 10,000 years. The surrounding plot line involving the narrator and his life has it's own search for self theme as this unnamed narrator was of the 60s-70s "make love not war" kind of crowd, but was then convinced the world could not be helped once that sort of counter-culture had died off. His conversations with Ishmael are his own search for self, however the book as a whole can be viewed as mankind's "search for self". Daniel Quinn writes that we as a species must look at how we're conducting ourselves on a global scale and what consequences that may have. At first glance this seems like one of those far left hippie books about environmentalism, but it goes deeper than that and actually has it's share of twists. Liberals and conservatives alike have a lot to be gained from what this book has to say, and frankly both will be very surprised at some things that are said. The book also goes deep into the culture of mankind for the past 10,00 years, and particularly the Western religion of more "recent" times. I guarantee it, your mind will be blown as some point in this novel. This isn't to say that everything is totally groundbreaking, but their certainly are some incredibly interesting points made that I hadn't really considered before, and I sometimes sit around and think about this stuff to pass time. My recommendation is that which I received: read it, immediately.
michaeleconomy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really like all of Quinn's books. The main problem is that he asks lots of really good questions and really doesn't provide any answers. Definitely a good read though.
Jwizzle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In a world where things are dismal at best- waging wars, environmental blunder, homelessness, starvation, overpopulation, etc., Ishmael offers a bit of insight and a lot of hope. In Daniel Quinn¿s novel, he has chosen someone so different, yet enough the same, to enlighten one of our very own. He has chosen Ishmael, a gorilla that has lived a long, intricate life, and placed him in an office building with a human. Ishmael, from his long and intricate life, has made many astute observations of human societies and has developed taste for sharing. Realizing no matter how sage he may be that he is still a coarse haired, 400 pound mammal, he seeks someone who may learn from his observations and hopefully save the world from its downward spiral. He places an ad in the personal column.¿Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person.¿Ishmael does more than point out the obvious, in fact he does just the opposite once his ad is answered. He and his pupil, the 5th of four failures, take a journey together as they examine the past, present and future. Ishmael uses his knowledge of ancient maps and text, including the globally interpreted Bible, to support his conclusions. However, he doesn¿t allow his knowledge to boil over, spilling over onto his overwhelmed student; he and his student have deep conversations while Ishmael skillfully leads him to the truth. That¿s not to say that the pupil automatically knows every answer to Ishmael¿s well thought out inquiries, its actually quite the contrary. That¿s what makes this novel so effective- the way that it¿s written. Once you get to the end, it seems so clear, so blatantly obvious what people need to do in order to fix the world, but it truly takes the 263 pages to get there. Quinn slowly but surely allows you to develop your thoughts alongside Ishmael¿s pupil. Quinn allows him to ask the questions that you yourself would surely ask, as if you were there with him. By the end you are invigorated with truth, and with an earnest desire to save the world. I 100% percent recommend that everyone reads this book. Ishmael (it¿s much more fun to give props to a gorilla than a man named Quinn) doesn¿t present you with any sort of new knowledge, it¿s all stuff we¿ve seen or heard before. He just shows us us, but from a different perspective, and that¿s pretty awesome. By the end you are invigorated with truth, and with an earnest desire to save the world. The only reason I hesitated to give this book 5 stars is because it got a little too heavy for me at times. There are so many gargantuan things to note at once that sometimes it gets a little overwhelming, but there are some breaks from learning peppered in the beginning and end of the book as we learn more about Ishmael.
sburton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The setting of Ishmael is an odd one. It is not often that you see a gorilla and a human being in the same room talking...er...thinking to each other. If that is not enough, these two characters discuss intricate topics such as culture, philosophy, and the world that combines them. Ishmael (gorilla) teaches his pupil about the traditions of his culture, and points out (or, makes his pupil out) what is wrong with them, and how we, as a culture, should fix them. Because the unnamed character is digesting new material about his culture, it is forcing him to rethink the way he lived his life, which enacts his search for self. In his search, the unnamed character battles tradition with fact, but which will overcome? I enjoyed reading this book because Ishmael takes historical stories, and puts a twist on them, making the reader rethink the story in a way never seen before. However, there is minimal plot in this book, seeing is that it is mostly two creatures sitting in a room discussing life. Because of this, the ending is predictable, leaving the reader a bit disappointed. However, the reader will walk away with a new sense of how their culture enacts their story, possibly troubling them. The question is: Is this a good thing?
co_coyote on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am not sure what to say about this book. It was given to me by one of my children and described as one of the best books my son had ever read. I did not think it was a well written book. In fact, the style annoyed me a great deal at first. But, after working my way through the first 80 or so pages of the book, I found I really wanted to keep reading. I was extremely disappointed with the ending. I kept wondering what a really good writer would do with this material. I guess I think the ideas were compelling, and that the execution was deeply flawed.
teewillis1981 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was 19 years old and even now years later, It has become a permanent staple in my way of thinking. I would say that to question the way society is run i.e. politics, education etc is important but to question the very structure of our culture is revolutionary. This book is not for the faint of heart and is almost guaranteed to change your worldview. READ IT.
Jrenaud on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ishmael is truly an adventure of mind and spirit. You will question a lot of the things you know, and believe. It certainly changed the way I think about things I see around me in the world. The truly incredible thing is how this is done through a simple straight forward dialog. There are only two characters in the book, and yet you learn more about the characters then you will out of most books that have complex character development, and subplots. In our English class we have been studying books that relate to the idea of searching for one¿s self. This is a book that fits into that certainly fits into this category. In the beginning it doesn¿t seem to be what you are doing, searching for yourself. But as the book progresses you find that you have done so without knowing. The story is engaging and deep which will suck you in, making it hard to put down. However, don¿t try reading it unless you¿re in the mood to think a lot. Because if you¿re not, than you won¿t get the same experience that you should. Ishmael is able to connect with several themes which we all can relate to with varying degrees. A major one is religion: the book does not single out one religion but talks about the study of religion as a whole. I would strongly recommend that everyone read this book at least once in their life. Its ideas may even seem radical to some, but when you set the book down you will say to yourself ¿why didn¿t I think of this before¿. I guarantee it. Be mindful of every story told in the book because each one has multiply meanings, and connotations. I have already started reading the next book in the series The Life of B, because of how much I enjoyed Ishmael.
bzedan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can see how reading this book as a teen or early college student would rock one's world. It's lovely to read and brings up great ideas, but I had a teenage life-changing book* and so that part of me just couldn't connect.*Dune, shut up
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ishmael is looking for a student, a student that wants to change the world. He finds one in our author and together they delve into the history of man, the universe, and our current culture. They cover everything from why we do the things we do, to how things got to be this way, to how we are living against the laws of nature. We follow the author through not only a quest for knowledge, but an emotional quest that teaches him about himself and makes him take a close look at what he believes. This is one of those books that stays with you forever, and has the potential to change how you think about the world around you.This is definitely a book that is going to make my own personal list of `Must Reads¿. If I could give a book 6 stars, then I would give this one 6/5. I read it twice, back to back and was just as awed when I finished the second time as I was the first.It¿s given me a new motto in life ¿You can¿t change how people act without first changing how they think.¿
tundranocaps on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book. Even if the story itself is not engrossing, it is not meant as anything other than a tool to carry the author's opinions.Be advised, this is an ideology book, and if you find the ideology* disagreeable, you will find the book disagreeable.I liked the way he makes his arguments, I do not know if they will stand to scrutiny right now, but at the time of reading, it worked. The "mentor" character asks the protagonist questions, which are hard to think of answers for (at least within 5 minutes), and the answers he gives are convincing, or seem that way.Even if you dislike the ideology, I find his reading on the origin of the Cain and Abel story simply fascinating.* The ideology is about preserving Earth and mankind's nature and place as an animal.