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The Story of B

(Ishmael #2)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  9,935 ratings  ·  542 reviews
An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Father Jared Osborne has received an extraordinary assignment from his superiors: Investigate an itinerant preacher stirring up deep trouble in central Europe. His followers all him B, but his enemies say he’s something else: the Antichrist. However, the man Osborne tracks across a landscape of bars, cabarets, and seedy meeting halls is n
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 1997 by Bantam (first published 1996)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  9,935 ratings  ·  542 reviews

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Phillip Yost
Sep 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I remember first reading The Story of B by Daniel Quinn when a friend let me borrow a copy when I was sixteen. It disturbed me. It frightened me. It inspired me. I am now twenty-one, and this novel still disturbs, frightens, and inspires me. The novel completely uprooted everything I had come to assume about the world. I remember when I was five years old and my brother bluntly telling me there is no Santa Claus. The feeling of escaping the illusion, learning what I had so adamantly believed to ...more
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a long and hard book. It is also, probably the most important book I've ever read, not the best, not my favorite, but probably the most important. I can chart my life as before this book and after. I am a better person for having read and understood what Daniel Quinn has trying to say. If you have not read it I implore you to take the time and do so. You will be a better person for it. (Though you need to read Ishmael first.) ...more
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My second Daniel Quinn book that I couldn't put down. Even though the author includes the words "an adventure of mind and spirit" to the novel's name... I wouldn't exactly describe it that way myself. It was more of a "open up your eyes people!" type of novel and I hope it did just that!

What if you had a powerful message that you wanted to get across to the entire world before the entire world falls apart if people do not GET that message? How would you go about doing this without coming across
Jul 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
*I did not read the fictional story, just the 100 pages of his philosophy at the end
*This is one more book on someone's theory about The One And Only Cause of All Modern Problems. This dude thinks it's population.
*Unfortunately, Quinn either made his conclusions from things we believed about hunter gatherers pre 1995 or he ignored lots of information to support his theory

Here are some corrections:
-We used to believe that humans "evolved" from hunter-gatherer societies to farming to towns to citi
Terri Kempton
Nov 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
Be wary the book that promises extreme religious power. I encountered this phenomenon in the Life of Pi, which is outstanding fiction, but it never should have promised me a story that "would make me believe in God." That's a whole lot to make good on, right?

Well, the Story of B promises us a message SO dangerous, SO original, SO life-changing that the character "B" deserves to be called the Antichrist. If you're pulling out the big religious guns, you'd better deliver. Don't give me half-warmed
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Ishmael He is Not

When I read Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael I was given a clear view of the importance of human beings reconnecting with the idea that they are apart of nature and need to find a balance with the world rather than trying to dominate it. It was a well written book with a easy to grasp message. One I happen to agree with. Because of my enjoyment in reading Ishmael I decided to read more of Quinn’s work. I went next to The Story of B: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit. What I found in thi
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
A provocative premise: civilization itself is the problem. Food under lock and key. Quinn is the descendant of the great Rousseau, less poetic but more practical.

What can be done? Nothing. Sit back and watch the dying circus.
May 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Daniel Quinn is apparently the answer to how to get us fiction-averse readers engaged in novels -- while the plot and characters are satisfying and round, respectively, Quinn has essentially mastered the art of making it palatable to read the story of people sharing ideas with each other which are not fictional in the least. Very enjoyable, first book in a while I haven't wanted to put down at the end of a subway ride. ...more
Clay Zdobylak
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is the world i lived in before i read The Story of B and there is the world i lived in after i'd read it.
I much prefer the latter.
Jul 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In The Story of B, Daniel Quinn couches in a novel what appears to be a contemporary animist worldview. The thin plot has a twist I'll admit took me by surprise. For the purposes of the story, the identity of B is relatively unimportant; what's required is merely a character to give the concepts a voice. Finishing the book, I had an ambivalent sense that people are recognizing as never before the threat represented by our culture that despoils the earth; yet I am not sure how I feel about B's pr ...more
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture, ecology, fiction
I first read this about ten years ago, and I count this as one of the books that transformed my thinking. It's the story of a Catholic priest of the Laurentian order who is tasked with tracking down someone named B, who is suspected to be the Antichrist. As the tale progresses, you learn much of the teachings of B. Trust me, it will make you think. It's a very different perspective on our culture than you'll find anywhere else. If you've read Quinn's first book, Ishmael, you'll know this perspec ...more
Tom Quinn
Jun 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
Father Osborne is a bad priest. Not bad as in wicked, but bad as in not so good at his job. Bad in the way some people say, "Oh, I'm just bad at math." The diary of a wicked-bad priest would probably be more interesting than this little milquetoast's...

1 star out of 5. Not only is this pretty dull, it's overwritten in that 90s style, where the author picks a quirky narrative device and then goes overboard with the thesaurus. But you can't have it both ways; you can't claim this is a diary and th
Katherine Ripley
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Interesting ideas but I don't think this author has any talent for fiction writing. The dialogue isn't believable: it's rigid, doesn't feel organic, and the characters don't have different voices. On top of that, the narrator basically just says "I don't know" in different ways. Why am I bothering to read that over and over again?

I also wonder why the author seems to think that citing sources is unimportant. How am I supposed to assess the argument when he doesn't tell me where his research is c
Oct 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
The book is aimed at an audience who wants to gain a different perspective on society than that purveyed by a maintstream fundamentalist-religious perspective (though one that seems outdated). If you've read books like Guns, Germs and Steel, or are a student of science or anthropology, this book will not open too many new doors for you, but for someone who hasn't before given a lot of thought to our species' future through a lens on its past, this will be a very thought-provoking read, and an OK ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful story. Incredible insights. This will be a gift to many.
Jul 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have read and reread and reread this philosophical novel, and it has changed me every time. My worldview was changing when I read this for the first time, and I wish I can remember when that was.

The story of the book is less important than the idea of opening your mind and eyes to see what it almost completely obscured by history. It may not be exactly as he writes, new theories and discoveries may be more accurate now, but the idea is that we are brainwashed and not necessarily by religion o
Sep 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This book really caused me to think and evaluate my life. I found it to be a book I thought about as I read and that connected to other aspects of my life. I found it reaching all parts and making me rethink assumptions. I appreciated the way it was written. I want concrete ideas and answers but I understand that this book profoundly changed my views and rethink many ideas.
Giordano Margaglio
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Do you know that feeling of having someone crack your skull wide open, inject in it a fundamentally new idea and close it back?

Read "Ishmael", then read this book.

You'll know what I'm taking about.
Randall Wallace
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Taker way began 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent and introduced the notion of work and a much harder lifestyle. It created huge food surpluses that required armed force to protect. One of its tenets: “Anything we eat may live, but anything that eats our food (B means pests and insects) must die”. The new viral world view began dominating nature by assuming it was now the God, and great decider. In the end, the world’s Taker religions never surpassed a child’s Golden Rule. Animism is ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having read and enjoyed (and learned from) the author's first novel Ishamel, I suspected I would like this one as well, and I did. The story centers around a Catholic priest who is sent by the head of his order to investigate a man who may or may not be the antichrist. Rather than teaching and preaching Satanism or black magic, the speaker--a man known only as B--is teaching something much more dangerous to the Church: animism!

Yes, animism. Over the course of several long talks, B tells the pri
Marsha Hubbell
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
“The Story of B” by Daniel Quinn is the follow-up to “Ishmael.” Once again, my copy is dog-eared marking passages that were eye-openers, that spoke to me on a cellular level as well as an emotional and intellectual one. This book took me the next step and dared me to go back to the person I was before reading “Ishmael” – to the beliefs I harbored, the history I trusted, the questions I kept buried, the misunderstandings and forgotten memories that are part of being human, truly human.

With “B” w
Jan 03, 2008 rated it liked it
I've always been intrigued by Quinn's interpretations of religious motivations and his ideas on population and modern society's self-deception, but I don't know how much more one-sided dialectic I can handle. Of the three Daniel Quinn books I've read, they've each relied heavily on a discussion between two characters, one filling the role of teacher and the other filling the role of pupil. While one person, the pupil, is usually having a personal philosophical crisis and the other, the teacher, ...more
Jay Burton
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A truly incredible novel explaining the fundamental flaw of today's Culture/Society.

The author will take you through a philosophical yet entertaining journey where you gradually question what it means to be a human of the 21st century, and how so many teachings of today have blinded us from many aspects of the human race.

Written in a very simple English, Quinns' ease with words makes you ask yourself many questions around what it means to be human, when and how did we start becoming human, and h
Dec 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book. This fictional tale is the next step in Daniel Quinn's explanation of his philosophy. The ideas in this book may seem like "duh" comments to some, but I found his conclusions fascinating and surprising.

The take-home message was that thousands of cultures once covered the globe, with no single culture dominating humanity. He suggests that when homo sapiens began using agriculture ~10,000 years ago, we embarked on a fundamental shift in the way humans interact with the world in ter
Kenley Kristofferson
Dec 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed it, but not as much as "Ishmael." The first half reviewed "Ishmael," which is probably good for those who have only read it once (I've read it twice and listened to it three times, so I know the text very intimately) and sets an important backbone for the rest of the book, but it seemed like a bit "too much of the same."

Once the second half started, it got deeper into the ecological ideals that made Ishmael great, but it also got into some New Age ideas that made it a bit more
Lindsay Burgess
May 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Story of B (along with Ishmael) was one of those books I decided to finally check off my list of to-reads, NO MATTER WHAT. I dragged myself kicking and screaming through the first two-thirds of this book; frustrated and annoyed by the characters, the plot, emboldened claims made with no backing arguments, etc. etc. etc.

My attitude started to shift around two-thirds of the way in and I was intrigued by some of Quinn's ideas, remaining only occasionally annoyed at some of his claims.

I would r
Laura Bojarskaite
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have ever read. Can't wait to read more of Daniel Quinn! ...more
Christian Dechery
Jun 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a life changing book. It will destroy everything you believe about the origins of our culture and its destiny. Are you prepared for this?

If you didn't read Ishamel and knows nothing about the idea of this book I suggest you go read that first. I personally think Ishmael is better book than this one, more fun to read, with better characters.
If you did read Ishamel, this book may sound as if its just repeating the ideas with a different background story, but it will be worth your while la
Jim Thompson
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was my second time reading "The Story of B." The first time was more than 10 years ago. It was the book I took to the hospital with me the morning my son was born, so it's all tied up with good (and terrifying) memories.

All in all this is a good book. I'd say an Important book. I like the book, but it's not just that I like it, it's that I think this book "matters."

First, though, my criticisms. The Story of B is a book with a plot. It's written to be a bit of a suspense story, with intrigu
Oct 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Having already read Ishamel and My Ishmael and completely absorbed the messages into my worldview, this book seemed a little redundant. The set up of a teacher trying to lead a student to a conclusion felt a little played. The premise of the ideas being at war with the church, however true they may be, still felt a little trite, self-important, and preachy. And, partly due to the material at the back of the book, it seemed to end rather abruptly. But I am only able to make these criticisms from ...more
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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

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Ishmael (3 books)
  • Ishmael
  • My Ishmael (Ishmael, #3)

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