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4.1 out of 5 stars683
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on October 20, 2006
I read this book because other reviews and overviews indicated that this book was in line with what I already knew. It gets extremely lonely fighting everyone around you, so I just wanted to make sure I wasn't the only one who felt this way. Still the book taught me some things. I couldn't put it down. It's a very short book (took me less than 12 hours), linear plot, though it can be hard to follow who is speaking sometimes. The analogies work. The logic is sound. The protagonist was very easy for me to identify with.

The only thing I can say to people who didn't like this book, is that they did not understand it.
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on July 3, 2014
so gooooodddd
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on February 11, 1999
Jsut Read It
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on June 22, 2004
as i say in my other reviews, i'm not a scholarly bookworm type of person. i read books for the heck of it. i don't read it to impress anybody or to portray an intellectual self or none of that madness. so here are my bullet points:
1. this book is profound in all ways possible. quinn does not come off w/far fetched concepts like other philosophers. what is amazing about ishmael is that it just restates the obvious. it uses tangible examples.
2. tangibility. you do not have to stretch your imagination to grasp his ideas. he simply makes you look at things from an outside perspective. things that already exist!!! it's great.
3. he has the same ideologies and mindsets as me. marx, durkheim, etc.
4. the story if b is a must read if you like ishmael. in all honesty, i like the story of b more.
5. this book does not drag! it took me a week to read it. that's fast considering that my days are filled w/boozing, barhopping, going to the beach, and spending time w/my beautiful girlfriend.
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on April 9, 2003
I think that Ishmael was a story that could have been summed up in maybe 20 pages, but was elongated into a couple hundred. I would have given it zero stars, but that wasn't one of the options. It was about a talking gorilla, a gorilla that is smarter than most humans are. The gorillas name was Ishmael, and he had opinions about the world; that evolution was not supposed to stop with man. I completely disagree with this though, i believe that god created man to live in this world how he wanted to. Ishmael kept talking about how man took living into his own hands and out of the gods, but I disagree with this also. This story was also really boring. It lacked action completely, the whole thing was almost completely dialogue. I could barely pay attention to what the book was about, i found my mind wandering all the time. The idea of a gorilla talking throughout the entire book made me so tired and bored. I know a lot of people disagree with my opinion, but that is what i think of it. I think this book is unnecessary to read, I didn't get anything out of it except a sore [backside].
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on July 18, 2004
I read this book in one day. It is good. See for yourself. So now everyone can stop fussin. I cleared it all up. Next stop, Melville....
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on November 12, 2003
In my opinion this book is a philosophical piece of crap and if being taught the deeper meanings in life by a gorilla is your cup of tea, then by all means enjoy. However I did not enjoy this book. Throughout the book I feel as if Daniel Quinn is just babbling on about what is wrong with the world today, but he offers no solution. Not only did I not agree with many points in the book, but I found it also to be a very boring read with almost no action at all. Most of the book is dialogue between a man and a gorilla. I found the main point of the book to be that humans are on a path to self destruction and that we keep trying to fix it but keep messing up. The importance of the gorilla is so that we can see things through a different perspective. This is the only book that I have read by Quinn but after reading this book I take him to be a nature lover. Some people may call this stereotyping but I believe people who think that anything else on this earth is equal to man is dad wrong. Are we supposed to run amuck on this planet and cause chaos and conquer it? The answer to that is no, I am not saying to go and kill every animal in sight but if one species becomes extinct on a remote island then who cares. Some people do care and see this is a big problem. I however cannot relate to this at all, seeing as how this species would never relate to me and the world is neither a better nor worse place without it. There are some life forms on this earth that are just to exist whether they have a purpose or not. God put man here to be stewards of this planet but we cannot always walk on egg shells. Man is the supreme being and if some animals have to die in order for us to live then that is the cost that must be paid. My review of this book would be that it's point is totally helpless and on top of that is an extermely boring read. I would give this book zero stars based on those two points. If Quinn wanted to do something to help the world he could have just never wrote the book that caused so many trees to die. If you enjoy animals to a very extreme extent and see yourself as an equal to a jellyfish then this is the book for you, but if this is not you, then stay very far away.
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on February 17, 2004
I've been a high school teacher for many, many years, and the one book students metioned more than any other was 'Ishmael.' "It will change your life", they said. I finally gave in, and am relieved to know that my life has indeed changed in one important way: I never have to read 'Ishmael' again.
Daniel Quinn is possibly the most misanthropic and pedantic author I've ever encountered. Make no mistake: the insights, observations and ideas in this book are passe at best. If you are a reasonably thoughtful and educated person over the age of 18, this book holds nothing for you. I suppose this recommeds the book as children's literature to an extent, but it is unfortunately so poorly written that I would withold even that.
To make a very long list of grievances very short, I will say this: Quinn is reminiscent of nothing so much as a college freshman, so drunk with the recent loss of his apparently total ignorance that he is convinced that he is the first person in human history to understand elementary philosophy, theology and anthropology. Reading his book is like being lectured by an idiot, in the sense that no arrogance rankles like that of the truly dumb. I had to restrain myself from tracking down the author's email address out of pure human compassion: Mr. Quinn is somehow living under the terrible delusion that humanity is composed entirely of idiots. Over and over I had the feeling I was reading a hideous rewrite of 'Waiting for the Barbarians', one in which the narrator never figured out who the damn barbarians are.
I am very grateful for the reviews here, which reaffirmed my continuing faith in the basic intelligence of my species. And horrible as this sounds, I have a recommendation - a sincere one - for those of you who are enthralled by "Ishmael": go back to school. This book pales next to the myriad wonders available to you through thoughtful study at any decent university.
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on February 18, 2004
The gist of this work of pseudo-philosophy is that human beings are evil takers who have ransacked the earth, and the animals are those who give back to the earth. This is a an evil/good binary philosophy for environmentalists written in such a simplified generalized way that the entire works comes off as propaganda written for the mouth of a anthropomorphic gorrilla. The soapbox is higher than the Sears Tower. Cute Lovable Animals. Evil Humans. How is this different from hundreds of Disney movie plots?
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on February 5, 2004
This book stinks! Aren't you supposed to actually understand it. When I had finished it (because the school assigned it), I burned it and then ate it! This book is like a dictionary. Step away kids, this book is dangerous.
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