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My Ishmael Paperback – October 6, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books; Reprint edition (October 6, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553379658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553379655
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this sequel to Quinn's controversial best seller, Ishmael, the telepathic gorilla has another pupil intent on saving the world: 12-year-old Julie Gerchak.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Another irresistible rant from Quinn, a sequel to his Turner Tomorrow Fellowship winner, Ishmael (1992), concerning a great, telepathic ape who dispenses ecological wisdom about the possible doom of humankind. Once more, Quinn focuses on the Leavers and Takers, his terms for the two basic, warring kinds of human sensibility. The planet's original inhabitants, the Leavers, were nomadic people who did no harm to the earth. The Takers, who have generally overwhelmed them, began as aggressive farmers obsessed with growth, were the builders of cities and empires, and have now, in the late 20th century, largely run out of space to monopolize. Quinn's books have not featured many memorable characters, aside from Ishmael. This time out, though, he invents a lively figure, 12-year-old Julie Gerchak, who is tough and wise beyond her years, having had to deal with a self-destructive, alcoholic mother. Julie responds to Ishmael's ad seeking a pupil with an earnest desire to save the world (a conceit carried over from the earlier novel). Once again, the gentle ape shares his wisdom in a series of questions and answers that resemble, in method, a blend of the Socratic dialogues and programmed learning. Moving beyond his theories about Leavers and Takers, Ishmael presents a detailed critique of educational systems around the world, suggesting that their function is not to usefully educate but to regulate the flow of workers into a Taker society. This is all very well, but what does Ishmael/Quinn suggest be done to redeem the Takers, and to save the earth? Quinn seems to want to sketch out how change might come about, but it's never fully explored. Instead, the novel is increasingly taken up with the mysteries surrounding Ishmael's travels and fate. This is the weakest of Quinn's novels, but his ideas are as thought-provoking as ever, even so. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and studied at St. Louis University, the University of Vienna, and Loyola University of Chicago. I worked in Chicago-area publishing for twenty years before beginning work on the book for which I'm best known, Ishmael. This book was chosen from among some 2500 international entrants to win the half-million dollar 1991 Turner Tomorrow competition for a novel offering "creative and positive solutions to global problems." The novel 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, and most recently At Woomeroo, a collection of short stories. I can be found on Facebook, and my Web site, ishmael.org, is enormous, offering news and announcements from readers, suggested readings, speeches and essays available nowhere else, detailed answers to more than 500 questions asked by readers over the years, and a Guestbook with thousands of entries. I and my wife, Rennie, have lived in Chicago, Santa Fe and Madrid, New Mexico, and Austin, Texas. We currently live in Houston.

Customer Reviews

Anyways,just make sure you read this book,you'll be glad you did!
Nick
Quinn brings an awareness and a unique perspective, which may help humanity find a better way to live.
Cynthia Motley
I read this book while on vacation, and only had a few days, but that is all I needed.
Candy P.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on April 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Daniel Quinn has finally found the proper target with his "concurrent sequel" to his rightfully popular "Ishmael." Ishmael, a mountain gorilla, enters into telepathic dialogues with his students. In this book, Ishmael's student is a twelve year old girl. The adult mindsets and idealism Ishmael dealt with in the previous book are replaced by a cynical, street-wise young adult. Julie, who is as close to an orphan as you can get and still have a resident parent, is inspired by the newspaper advert: "Teacher seeking pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world." Although she hasn't a clue how to accomplish that desire, she feels compelled to give it a go.
If you've read "Ishmael," don't assume this book is redundant. Ishmael himself is reluctant to teach one so young. After all, what could a 12-year-old accomplish? Any reader of this volume might entertain the same doubts, but Quinn's adept talent has Ishmael query Julie on what she believes and why. He's patient [unlike most adults with children] and his "teaching" is, in reality a means to make Julie examine her beliefs. Ishmael is able couch his questions in terms Julie can understand. Step by step, Ishmael prods Julie into greater awareness of that world she desires to save. In the beginning, of course, she doesn't even know what's wrong with the world. Her vague disquiet is given focus as Ishmael's questions prod her thinking.
Julie becomes aware that the basic tactic of civilization is to "lock up the food." From this situation everything else that circumscribes our lives follows. Working for wages, a hierarchical society, religion and other trappings of "culture" that bind our existence.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Xavier de la Foret on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the "official" sequel to Ishmael. Basically, it is Ishmael revisited by a twelve-year-old girl. Although the first fifty pages of the book will bore you to tears if you have read the first novel, it deals with different issues and is definitely worth reading. Two main problems are covered in this volume. First, Quinn asks a very pertinent question: Why do we have to work hard eight hours a day, five days a week? Has it always been that way? The answer is a sounding "NO!" Many people are not satisfied with their life because of a job they don't really like. Just ask people you know if they would stop working if they won one million dollars. I'm sure most of them will say "yes, of course, my job is not fulfilling, I'd rather do something else!" But, still,they go to work every day just because they don't have the choice: no job means no money, which means no food. However, Quinn points out that it was not like that before food was put "under lock and key." That is, in ancestral cultures, you just had to go grab the food you needed where you knew you could find it. At one point in our culture, however, we produced so much food with agriculture that we needed to store it, thus leading to a new class of people: those who did not work in the field anymore as they had to manage the way food was stored. These people found that life was easier that way, and they soon realized that as long as they were in control of the food distribution, they could take it easy by letting the others work hard. And to protect this new "gold mine" they hired guards, who thus also had the priviledge not to work hard as long as they kept the food away from those who worked for it.Read more ›
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Christofferson on January 12, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Daniel Quinn's My Ishmael is the third installment in his "Save the Earth" trilogy (Ishmael, The Story of B, and finally, My Ishmael). In this book, Ishmael, the telepathic gorilla, attempts to seal up some of his many loose ends found in Quinn's previous two installments by relaying his knowledge to a 12 year-old girl. I liked the first two books enough to keep on reading, however, Quinn's style takes a grain of salt to take it all in.
The entire concept of the Quinn's books are to convey to the reader that we "civilized" humans have developed, and entrenched ourselves, in a system of living that is doomed to fail. It's not an anti-capitalism, pro-socialist treatise per se, however, most of the tenets of capitalism could be found flawed in Quinn's assessment. Basically, Ishmael (Quinn) has determined that native peoples have survived for hundreds of thousands of years longer than "civilized" peoples because: a) tribal cultures don't lock up their food so that you have to buy it (this locking up of food results in poverty, war, and dissent, according to Quinn); b) hunter/gather societies (with some agriculture) have been able to sustain their likelihood without disrupting family, wealth (in tribal terms), prosperity, and the environment.
Contrary to this, are the tenets of our "civilized" society. They lock up food (a substance that should be free to all humans just like air or water) and place it in the power of the wealthy who then redistribute it to those who can pay for it.
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