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The Story of B Paperback – Nov 3 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (Nov. 3 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553379011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553379013
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Monika on June 12 2004
Format: Paperback
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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By Air on March 14 2012
Format: Paperback
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 seem particularly shattering.

I think that Quinn makes some good points, albeit in a very pedantic and garbled fashion. In terms of the writing, the dialogue is almost pathetically unrealistic, with the main character constantly being confused or astounded by some new tidbit of information. These revelations occur over and over and the power of these epiphanies slowly waned for me. It is clearly more of a manifesto than a work of fiction, and it is poorly disguised.

Some of the concepts are quite interesting. However, I think Quinn simplifies his ideas to black and white comparisons, and worst of all, does not address clear counter arguments. An example of black and white thinking is Quinn discussing our society as "not humanity," but instead one conquering culture of totalitarian agriculture. He supposes that all worldly cultures fall under this description. He then idealizes tribal cultures with one poorly conceived anecdote, thus proving their superiority.

Simplifications abounding, Quinn does not even address the most important question of "quality of life" or even life expectancy which has increased since his Great Forgetting. (I can imagine Quinn's responses relating to a) the 'natural' human life expectancy b) the unimportance of increased life expectancy with the "listlessness" and pointlessness which engulf our lives). Technology is but the weapon of totalitarian agriculture for Quinn, and he neglects to discuss benefits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julia on Jan. 21 2006
Format: Paperback
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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By Andrew Hamada on March 8 2004
Format: Paperback
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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