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My Ishmael (Ishmael, #3)
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My Ishmael

(Ishmael #3)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  9,421 ratings  ·  469 reviews
An extraordinary and startlingly original sequel to Ishmael

"Enthralling, shocking, hope-filled, and utterly fearless, Daniel Quinn leads us deeper and deeper into the human heart, history, and spirit. In My Ishmael, Quinn strikes out into entirely new territory, posing questions that will rock you on your heels, and providing tantalizing possibilities for a truly new worl
Paperback, 293 pages
Published October 6th 1998 by Bantam (first published November 3rd 1997)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  9,421 ratings  ·  469 reviews

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Nov 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
My Ishmael is, of course, the sequel to Daniel Quinn's novel Ishmael. This book focuses on much the same subject matter as the first book. Namely, that the agricultural revolution gave rise over time to the modern-day Taker culture. With this rise the Taker's put forth the attitude that they were in control of their own destiny and chose to live in a seemingly unnatural way. They decided for themselves to conquer the world without care of the consequences to all other life. Quinn's main assertio ...more
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There are books that illuminate the world in new ways to us. Rarely have I read a book that sheds light on my own existence the way this book did. It isn't so much that it's a fun read, or even that it's a well written book. The fact is it makes you think. I believe this makes many who read it uncomfortable. It questions the bedrock of our society in ways that aren't easily dismissed. Some people hate this book for that. Others find it hard to read. I think the more deeply rooted in mainstream c ...more
Matthew Holmes
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
With all of the negative reviews posted here I felt compelled to counter a bit. This may be a complete waste of time as there are many that see modern civilization as the apex of human development. Some of us disagree, some of us very strongly. I dropped out of High School as a Junior, precisely due to the critiques offered by Ishmael (Quinn). Our current education system serves no other purpose than to produce complacent, docile, and obedient employees. After dropping out of High School I spent ...more
Rev. Nyarkoleptek
Jan 12, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: _-_hated_it
A hippie grocery store clerk suggested this to me. That should have warned me off right there. From her breathlessly enthusiastic description of a psychic gorilla with The Secrets to Existence, I erroneously thought it would be a playful, Tom Robbins-esque lysergic carnival ride.

That is NOT what I got.

If this had been written as a pamphlet to be handed out by wide-eyed hippies on street corners, I probably would have considered it to be a more honest work. Instead, we're presented a cardboard cu
It's not that I didn't like this book. I did. But, instead of writing this book in a form which uses dialogue between the characters, Quinn should have simply written a discourse on his beliefs of the world. While his theories and ideas were extremely interesting, the dialogue became tiresome very quickly. I had to put the book aside because, honestly, it started to irritate me.

So, Mr. Quinn, if you are reading this, spare us the monotony of boring dialogue and just write a dissertation containi
Jul 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Daniel Quinn is absolutely phenomenal. After finishing the 3rd book in this series it’s safe to say that JK Rowling has been knocked down a peg in my “authors I’d like to have coffee with” rankings.

This, like all of Quinn’s work, packs a ton of compelling thoughts into a condensed & engaging format. Having previously read Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (the basis for much of the backbone of this work) made the story all the more powerful/easily comprehensible.

Beyond the core message of this
Evan Snyder
Aug 25, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I loved Ishmael and I would highly recommend that book to anyone and everyone, but My Ishmael turned out highly disappointing. Quinn tries to convey many similar ideas as in Ishmael, but in this book, Ishmael's lessons are targeted to a twelve-year-old girl. Being very careful not to wantonly dismiss a twelve-year-old's capability for such powerful and culturally dissident ideas, I honestly do not think, based on my own experience as a twelve-year-old girl not THAT long ago, that she could proce ...more
Jennifer Spires
May 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Holy cow, this book makes me think I'm a hippie. Once you get past the fact that it's a telepathic gorilla, which is easy to do at the beginning (near the end it's not as easy but you're too into the story to care), it's one of those books that really makes you think about our society. A quick read, and "Ishmael" is another book written from the point of view of one of the other characters and actually won the 1991 Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award (fiction with positive solutions to global probl ...more
Apr 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Borrowed this from the library, thinking I needn’t buy the third in the trilogy of Ishmael-books, cuz surely I wouldn’t find much more gold in this, that wasn’t already ‘marginaliad’ in my copies of the two first books... but alas. I’ve now finished it and already ordered my own copy yesterday as I have sheafs of papers with notes from within the book... and I simply need to reread this book over and over again.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really makes you think about how wrong we've gone as humans. We had it right at one point and then we abandoned all that worked to reinvent the wheel. The way we educate, the way we control food, the way we produce to consume, and our obsession with control and security. We moved away from a society where everyone looked out for everyone else because they knew they needed each other to a society of accumulate as much as you can because you don't know how much you're going to need and nobody has ...more
Joshua Byrd
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Starts out really good but gets a bit tedious towards the end :)
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very cute book that reframed how I viewed human history, particularly the agricultural revolution. The question is, how do we look back to our forefathers and change our society today before we wipe ourselves off this planet? The author comes back time and again to the idea that the species that are still around adapted and survived. We, however, have not done so as modern humans. This would be a great book club read!
Oct 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another fantastic book by Daniel Quinn. I wasn't as engaged in the beginning of this one as much as I was in Ishmael and The Story of B, but this one picked up speed and quickly became the book that tied the other two together both in narrative and in ideas. Great book! ...more
James Johnston
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This one will stick with you.
Jared Archbold
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This trilogy is changing my life. This book is no different. I really like Julie as a main character too.
Randall Wallace
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book starts with Ishmael’s rightful concern that intelligence brought us the deepest flaws of Civilization. Ishmael here comes mighty close to, but does not mention how American biologist Ernst Mayr, hypothesized that human intelligence is a lethal mutation which is likely to lead to the extinction of the human species, as well as most other species on the planet Earth. Noam often brings up Mayr’s conclusions on the human race. Ishmael says Civilization’s big innovation was putting food und ...more
Michael Miller
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I didn't think I could love a book more than Ishmael, but then I read My Ishmael. ...more
Vicky Cann
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is by far the most important and inspirational book I have ever read. It totally puts a finger on why I have felt so lost in my life and it has become a big influence on how I want to live. The trilogy is written so that Daniel Quinn's ideas can be explained in a story-like fashion through interactions with a different character in each book.
Everyone is different, with different upbringings, and different views on life, and so some may relate more to one story than to another. By writing t
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Wow. My Ishmael is to Ishmael as Wicked is to The Wizard of Oz. If you don't get that analogy, suffice it to say that this story is the "real" Ishmael. I found the beginning of the book to be a review of Ishmael and that it moved rather slowly, but by the time Ishmael started answering the specific questions and analyzing our society, I was completely enthralled. Quinn really has "done it again." He takes on the education system, the economic system, cults, gangs, and religions. It's amazing wha ...more
Ashe Armstrong
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Firstly, the whole message Ishmael gives is something I love and agree with completely. So, the book is not getting 3 stars for the philosophy. It's great. However, the dialogue is very very very very stiff a lot of the time. And not just from the psychic gorilla. That's understandable. The humans don't really sound like actual people, they sound like college lectures almost. A twelve year-old girl sounds thirty-five sometimes. My attention lulled a lot in some areas, but most of the concepts ar ...more
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Anyone who has spoken to me knows what a huge fan I am of "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn! This book follows as the next part and surpasses the first one for me because it provided closure which the first one lacked in a way.

"There is no one right way to live"

This book continues to expound on the idea of way of life of Tribal communities presenting a worthy alternative to the meaningless existence fostered on this world in the name of civilization. It dissects in detail the way the society is taught t
Oct 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Three stars is too much if judging the story and writing, nowhere near enough if judging the ideology and philosophical content. The author should have written a 30 page article instead of stretching his fascinating points about the educational, work-related, political, etc., systems into a long "story" about a talking gorilla who imparts this information to a young girl. It is worth reading one of this author's books to see his philosophical views- in fact, I highly recommend you do- but the st ...more
Dec 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is by far my favourite of the books I have read by Daniel Quinn. The narrator, Julie is far more likeable than Alan from Ishmael and the conversations between her and Ishmael are much less stunted. This is the best insight into the education system that I have read so far. I really like the use of smaller stories within the narrative to get the point across. Towards the end there was some 'padding' to the story that I felt was unnecessary but overall it was a great read and really compellin ...more
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. The entire book is dialog between two individuals and it portrays such a strong message about the world and what we as humans are doing to it. Very emotional, especially towards the end. Definitely a book that I will always remember and keep in my collection just because it's that special to me. ...more
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very clear look into Human history and behavior, and how developed societies compare to primal ones. There are many good points, and Mr. Quinn gives articulation to sentiments I feel many have, but did not know how to voice.

Coming from a gorilla is an interesting device. I feel more people are willing to listen to him over a human character.
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Though not as moving as Ishmael, My Ishmael includes a great blueprint of how we could build a better society without having to go back to tribal living. There's some fascinating thoughts on education, "locking up the food" and how to move forward in a better direction.

I highly recommend this to anyone who read Ishmael and thought, "Ok. What's next!?"
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book changed the way I think about politics. Instead of using the oppressive force of government to change everyone to act according to how I'd like people to act, I now understand it is up to me to find my tribe and help create the world in which I live. ...more
Feb 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is a story that will change the way you view our educational system and view society as a whole. I wish it was required reading in every high school across the country. It is a book I give as a gift to every student I know when they graduate.
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Rocked my world. It's like Ishmael, only more so--both books leave me questioning how I want to live in this world, what society should look like, what I can do. The end is sort of a different style than the rest of the book and is somewhat less believable, but still worthy of 5 stars as a whole. ...more
Ray Foy
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I think Daniel Quinn has hit upon something very special in his Ishmael books. That special thing is a concept, or way of looking at human history, that tells the story of how people came to be the way they are. Mr. Quinn tells this story through his fictional teacher who seeks students to learn his insights and pass them on. That teacher is a sentient gorilla by the name of Ishmael.

Ishmael teaches by telling stories and engaging his pupils in a Socratic dialogue. He wants to lead them through a
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I had and did the usual things -- childhood, schools, universities (St. Louis, Vienna, Loyola of Chicago), then embarked on a career in publishing in Chicago. Within a few years I was the head of the Biography & Fine Arts Department of the American Peoples Encyclopedia; when that was subsumed by a larger outfit and moved to New York, I stayed behind and moved into educational publishing, beginning ...more

Other books in the series

Ishmael (3 books)
  • Ishmael
  • The Story of B (Ishmael, #2)

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