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The Story of B [Paperback]

Daniel Quinn
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 3 1997
The Story of B combines Daniel Quinn's provocative and visionary ideas with a masterfully plotted story of adventure and suspense in this stunning, resonant novel that is sure to stay with readers long after they have finished the last page. Father Jared Osborne--bound by a centuries-old mandate held by his order to know before all others that the Antichrist is among us--is sent to Europe on a mission to find a peripatetic preacher whose radical message is attracting a growing circle of followers. The target of Osborne's investigation is an American known only as B. He isn't teaching New Age platitudes or building a fanatical following; instead, he is quietly uncovering the hidden history of our planet, redefining the fall of man, and retracing a path of human spirituality that extends millions of years into the past. From the beginning, Fr. Osborne is stunned, outraged, and awed by the simplicity and profundity of B's teachings. Is B merely a heretic--or is he the Antichrist sent to seduce humanity not with wickedness, but with ideas more alluring than those of traditional religion? With surprising twists and fascinating characters, The Story of B answers this question as it sends readers on an intellectual journey that will forever change the way they view spirituality, human history, and, indeed, the state of our present world.

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The Story of B + Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit + My Ishmael
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Quinn returns to fiction after a five-year hiatus with a sequel of sorts to Ishmael, winner of the Turner Tomorrow Award in 1991. Like its controversial predecessor, this book is not really a novel, but an extended Socratic dialogue that promulgates the same animist solutions to global problems that the author recorded last year in his spiritual autobiography, Providence: The Story of a Fifty-Year Vision Quest. The narrator, Jared Osborne, is a priest of the Laurentians, a fictional Roman Catholic order under an ancient, covert mandate to stand watch against the coming of the Antichrist. Although skeptical, Jared is enjoined by his superior to investigate Charles Atterley, an expatriate American preacher known to his followers as "B." Allowing Jared into his inner circle in Munich, B soon dispels both the concern that he is the Antichrist and the shivery intimations of apocalypse that make the opening chapters darkly intriguing. Through long, often numbingly repetitive parables and speeches, B instructs Jared in the solutions to overpopulation, ecological despoliation, cultural intolerance and other ills that have dogged civilization since the time of "the Great Forgetting" 10,000 years ago. B's smug pontificating and his disciples' unquestioning devotion reduces them to interchangeable mouthpieces for Quinn's philosophies. As a result, Jared's spiritual conversion away from Roman Catholicism and toward Quinn-ism, intended to be the book's dramatic high point, falls painfully flat.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Quinn, author of the best-selling cult classic Ishmael (LJ 12/91), returns with another quasispiritual tale about a priest who awaits the arrival of the Antichrist.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than "Ishmael"? You bet! June 12 2004
By Monika
Thus far I have read three of Quinn's books - first "Ishmael," which I've read twice, then "My Ishmael," and now "The Story of B," which I can definitely say is my favorite of the three. However, I would advise anyone new to Quinn to start with "Ishmael," as it lays the foundation for his ideas. "The Story of B" takes the ideas from "Ishmael" further and looks at them in more depth. "My Ishmael," is one that you can either read or not. While it isn't a bad book, it's pretty much just a new way of packaging everything Quinn had already said in "Ishmael."
Those who are already familiar with Quinn will know that his basic message is that our culture (NOT to be confused with the entire human race) is slowly and blindly destroying itself. He describes our culture as a "monster that is literally devouring the world - and will end by devouring itself if it isn't stopped" (pg. 88). The story he uses to frame his arguments in this book is as follows: Father Jared Osborne is a Catholic priest sent to Europe by his superiors in order to investigate a man known to his followers as B. This mysterious B has been traveling throughout Germany, spreading ideas that have the Church concerned he may be the Antichrist. Osborne is instructed to break into B's group of followers and determine whether he is or isn't as dangerous as he seems.
I found it interesting that this book was written from the perspective of a Catholic priest, secure in his faith (initially, at least), whereas "Ishmael" was narrated by a disillusioned everyday citizen who already felt he had been "lied to" by "Mother Culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that may inspire some lost generations Jan. 21 2006
By Julia
The Story of B is the second book of the Ishmael series, but I read it as the last. I read it during a hard time for myself and did find it had breathed some optimisim in me for the future. Growing up in a world that was predicting the chaos we are now seeing as a result of our selfishness and carelessness towards the planet and other inhabitants living here, I began to feel hopeless about a future. Sometimes I still do, but this book has helped me.
Although I do appreaiate Mr. Quinn's philosophies I would caution readers not to read it like a Bible. Read it with an open mind and search for opposing and supportive information. Mr. Quinn is a writer not just expressing his ideas, but also stories. I would ask the same of critics against his ideas. In the book he is biased with egalitarian cultures, and it's not hard to understand why, but he does make some very good points that we forget or miss or don't want to see.
I agree that it would have been more interesting if the main character, Jared Osbourne, challenged B's ideas more aggressivly, but it still doesn't mean that this book holds nothing worth reading. It's a book that should be read with an open mind.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading March 8 2004
If you're the average uninformed American who is smart enough to question media hype but still takes the evening news at face value, who votes every year but hasn't heard of half the candidates on the ballot, who laughs at comic strips depicting environmentalists as tree-huggers, then reading this book is a good idea: you're who the author was aiming for. Daniel Quinn, with this and his other novels, is attempting to bring to light problems with Western civilization in a way that can be absorbed by those not in the intellectual/cynical community. Although the writing is at times sub par and Daniel Quinn will never be the world's greatest storyteller, the message is an important one to at least glance at; it asks (rather than forces) you to question your assumptions about our world and the way we think. The writing isn't fabulous and doesn't need to be: the ideas contained in this novel will be absorbed whether the writing is phenomenal or simply better than average.
If you're a cynic or someone who prides themselves on being part of the informed, intellectual community and are already very aware of the problems, arguments and ideas surrounding the collapse of Western civilization, you can safely skip this book. If you read it anyway and bashed it, shame on you: you know this wasn't written for you.
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The Story of B is what could be called the middle book of Daniel Quinn's trilogy about the thoughts and influences of the talking gorilla known as Ishmael.
Unlike Ishmael or My Ishmael ("A Sequel" to Ishmael, though the third in the series), the gorilla is not present and the story focuses on one of Ishmael's proteges. A man commonly called "B". Romping through Europe, tracked and confronted by the narrator (who's diary we are purportedly reading) who is investigating him to see if B is potentially the Antichrist (a theory far less fantastical than one would think), it is a very compelling read.
Certain portions of the novel appear as endnotes, transcriptions the narrator has made of B's speeches and should be read not at the end of the book, but as the story progresses. It is these ideas, the speeches of B, which Quinn uses as the foundation for the message he is trying to convey in both this book and his two Ishmael books. The very simplified gist of it is that our -- humanity's -- view of the world and history is dangerously askew. We, all of us, have forgotten a crucial step in our timeline when humans went from content, tribal, happy people to over-worked, "civilized", and confused people. From gathering and hunting for a few hours a day and living with tribes, to farming or working twelve hours a day and living in massive cities. From there, B and his followers take the narrator and the reader on an adventure to explore this rift in our collective history and to see how it affects everything we are. Ultimately the problem remains that this lifestyle, the one adopted with the advent of "The Great Forgetting", will destroy us all. Everything in the world is at risk of the pains of our progress.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The Pedantic Ramblings of B
The Story of B was recommended to me by a good friend - I entered with a willingness and openness, and yet by the end I found myself skimming over repetitive concepts that do not... Read more
Published on March 14 2012 by Air
1.0 out of 5 stars Is there anything lower than a 1 star?
For all his ranting about the environment and how we are wasting it, Quinn sure didn't have any problems using countless trees to excrete his drivel. Read more
Published on April 4 2004 by GoodLiteraturePlease
3.0 out of 5 stars Eh...
Daniel Quinn obviously has an important message to relay, because we ARE destroying and overpopulating the world, but he's not the best at portraying anything in fiction. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2004 by Lauren E. Reese
4.0 out of 5 stars Passable, not vision-changing
I found The Story of B for $1.00 at my local discount store. (I should mention, however, that I did not get into Quinn by reading Ishmael or any of its sequels and am not a member... Read more
Published on Jan. 5 2004 by Craig Clarke
4.0 out of 5 stars Great material, in need of a better author.
I enjoyed the book tremendously, and had difficulty putting it down once I started. That said, I can't help but be a bit disappointed at the end. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2003 by Christopher R. Schaffner
1.0 out of 5 stars This was not Ishmael
I was quite disapointed with this novel. After falling in love with Ishmael and its sequel I thought this novel would too be a gem. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by BiggityBicster
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that works on you, like it or not
An earlier reviewer wrote (in his updated review) "I have thought about the book several times since I read it and disliked it, there must be more to it than I originally noted. Read more
Published on Dec 15 2003 by Barak
1.0 out of 5 stars Are You Desperate?
Anybody who thinks that this book or anything Quinn has written is THE AWNSER is a fool. He says nothing new here (again) and is only bound to attract desperate people looking for... Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2003 by jeremy daniels
4.0 out of 5 stars The purpose of the book is not the story.
I encourage reading this book since it does something most of us are not doing, it asks questions. True, the book is dogmatic and the storyline is [sad], the characters shallow... Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2003 by Loren Saunders
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