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My Ishmael (Ishmael, #3)
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My Ishmael

(Ishmael #3)

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  9,100 ratings  ·  445 reviews
Winner of the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship, Daniel Quinn's Ishmael is a bestseller and a testament for a burgeoning spiritual movement. Now Quinn presents an extraordinary sequel, a companion novel so startlingly original that even Ishmael's most faithful readers will not predict its outcome....

When Ishmael places an advertisement for pupils with "an earnest desire to save t
Paperback, 293 pages
Published October 6th 1998 by Bantam (first published November 3rd 1997)
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Average rating 4.07  · 
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 ·  9,100 ratings  ·  445 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
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
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!
James Johnston
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This one will stick with you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Apr 15, 2020 rated it liked it
My Ishmael is the third book in a trilogy. I loved the first book, Ishmael, and was delighted when I found a copy of My Ishmael in a bookstore. Finally read My Ishmael.

The story line and format of My Ishmael follows that if Ishmael, where a teacher advertises for students. In Ishmael, the student is Alan Lomax who is in his 40s. In My Ishmael the student is Julie Gerchak who is 12. As with Ishmael the format is a conversation over many days between Julie and Ishmael.

I found My Ishmael harder to
Maggie Ayau
Jan 24, 2020 rated it liked it
It was alright. A bit underwhelming overall and the ending felt like such a reach, but I like Julie and the unique relationship she had with Ishmael. His stories were harder for me to take in this time for some reason.

For Julie, Ishmael explains that the primary difference between the Takers and the Leavers is that Takers keep food under lock and key. He goes on to show how this one distinction pivots the Takers’ entire social order away from the so-called tribal systems of the Leavers: it affe
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ostensibly written as a sequel to Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit, the events in this book run in parallel to that of the first one, with the gorilla 'teaching' a younger, twelve year old girl student, who is also the narrator in this instance. Obviously with a more inexperienced (in life, the ways of the world) audience, the philosophies and ideas put across are slightly more simplistic and direct compared to the earlier book. They are however pretty much synchronous, covering simi ...more
Cori Bradley
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Whether you have read 'Ishmael' or are meeting for the first time, My Ishmael is a beautiful addition to the teachings of 'Ishmael'. It presents even further ideas of where humanity came from, how we came to be this way, and how to end the impending doom we and the planet are facing. Quinn lays out a plan to lead a revolution on "Mother Culture" - the international culture that is polluting the planet in more ways than one and contributing to the possible death of the plant and our human race. W ...more
James Schlichter
May 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
With both the Ishmael books, I appreciated that they at least got me thinking. But I can't say they actually created in me any unique ideas I haven't found in much better written books or come up with myself. I'm 47. Maybe if I had read it as a teen, it might have had more impact on me. I don't know.

My Ishmael, in my opinion, is the stronger of the 2 and I liked how it tied into it, the story of the narrator in the first book. However, it bordered on ridiculous over the last few chapters where t
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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)
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  • The Story of B (Ishmael, #2)

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