kevin's Reviews > Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
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Mar 26, 07


The reason I like Quinn’s style in “Ishmael” is that he doesn’t assume a pedantic perch atop humanity and force-feed a philosophically-driven, A-Z laundry list of “how to make yourself a better human being” and “save the world one person at a time” mantra down the reader’s throat. His style of writing is intimate. Reading “Ishmael” kind of reminds you of sitting in lecture with that one professor in college whose class you earnestly enjoyed and looked forward to attending each week - those lectures where you felt as if taking notes was more of an inconvenient distraction than simply opening your ears and listening for 60 minutes. You got more out of it by just sitting there like a blob taking it all in as opposed to fretting over particulars. You can tell Quinn is (or was) a good teacher. A good teacher defined as one who guides his/her students to the answers to their questions; not one who regurgitates, spoon-feeds or paraphrases concepts, principles and opinions down your throat systematically. Like Ishmael's narrator, I too found myself excited to come back each day (via turning the next page) to learn another part of the “story.”

What I find fascinating about this book is the power of its seemingly simplistic message: “Man unto himself is temporal phenomenon.” Quinn doesn’t waste his time extrapolating the myriad of problems that affect our world to make his point. He doesn’t bother to persuade or guilt the reader into action with “doomsday” scenarios, statistics, outcomes or make sententious arguments to bolster his credibility as a “thinker.” Instead, he plainly examines the most basic function of the human species and how the organization of its functionality became – well, dysfunctional. Regardless of whether you factor God, evolution or “little green men” into your respective paradigm to help you make sense of humanity, its purpose and ultimate destiny - refuting the message in this book is unreasonable. Human beings are the most evolved, intelligent and capable species on the planet. As such, we find ourselves amidst a paradox. We are progenitor to the earth as well as the root source of its impending (or at least eventual) devastation.

Ishmael is not a book whose scope is easily confined to the adverse effects of humanity on the environment or excess population or invasion of one civilization by another throughout history or how we’re killing the polar bear into extinction, etc. Its message is simply that man has forgotten his place in the order of nature (in a very large context) and that happened the moment man was cognizant of his innate ability to differentiate good vs. evil as a species. As a result, man began to use that acumen as an instinctual instrument to serve as justification for what “lives” and what “dies” pursuant to ensuring his unlimited growth – at any expense. - KL







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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by ryan (last edited Mar 27, 2007 12:09PM) (new)

ryan boyle so you gonna go join greenpeace like adam did after reading this book?


message 2: by Suzette (new)

Suzette omg. This was better than Lunesta Kevin!


brian Lehnen somebody lend me this shit!


Greta and after several years during which you gained knowledge and experience, you see that the teacher wasn't that fascinating as you then thought and even wrong.


message 5: by Bill (new)

Bill Lubbock Greta wrote: "and after several years during which you gained knowledge and experience, you see that the teacher wasn't that fascinating as you then thought and even wrong."

Sir I will have to disagree with your views on this book. However the teacher is very fascinating unlike your troll ass


Tara Lundrigan Great review!!

After I finished this wonderful book, I foolishly thought to myself "maybe this will make some people see in a new way" - and after reading this page of reviews, well it proved how wrong I was. It seems the majority who read it, thought it was garbage...which is just silly. What Quinn talks about is not something you can just deny...

Its hilarious. The people brainwashed by Mother Culture in his book are the same people writing all of these one star reviews.


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