My Ishmael

by Daniel Quinn

Paper Book, 1998


Winner of the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship, Daniel Quinn's Ishmael is a bestseller and a testament for a burgeoning spiritual movement.  Now Quinn presents an extraordinary sequel, a companion novel so startlingly original that even Ishmael's most faithful readers will not predict its outcome.... When Ishmael places an advertisement for pupils with "an earnest desire to save the world," he does not expect a child to answer him.  But twelve-year-old Julie Gerchak is undaunted by Ishmael's reluctance to teach someone so young, and convinces him to take her on as his next student.  Ishmael knows he can't apply the same strategies with Julie that he used with his first pupil, Alan Lomax--nor can he hope for the same outcome.  But young Julie proves that she is ready to forge her own spiritual path--and arrive at her own destination.  And when the time comes to choose a pupil to carry out his greatest mission yet, Ishmael makes a daring decision--a choice that just might change the world.… (more)



Call number



Bantam Books, 1998.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lycomayflower
A follow-up of sorts to Ishmael (which I read yonks ago and don't remember much about except that I found it compelling) which follows the same format: telepathic gorilla seeks student with whom to engage in a Socratic dialogue about how to "save the world." The student this time is a
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twelve-year-old girl and while that set-up allows for discussion of some topics an adult wouldn't see in the same way (such as western schooling systems), it also makes the whole thing a bit hard to swallow. I believe Julie's compassion, her disillusionment, and her brightness; I do not believe that this twelve-year-old girl has any thing like the kind of knowledge of the world and history and economics that she demonstrates throughout her conversations with Ishmael. This flaw is certainly a by-product of novels of ideas told in this way, which I have to admit I find somewhat tedious wherever I encounter them. Ishmael does engage Julie and have her suss out answers herself, but she still spends far too much time saying only variations on "Yes, I see that" or "I still don't get it." As for the ideas themselves (1. our society (people who lock up the food and force everyone to work to get any of it) have developed a system of living which does not work for people; as evolutionarily things that do not work do not survive, our system cannot survive and 2. the way to "fix" the system is to show people the flaws in the system so that they stop wanting this system and let a new system that does work slowly evolve*), I find them interesting but wish that Quinn, instead of using Julie almost entirely as a device for getting the argument on the page, had used her more as a devil's advocate to indicate the opposition to these positions so that the book could present a more fully rounded picture of the conversation about these ideas.

*Over-simplified, of course, and leaving out much of the definitional work that is part of the foundation of the argument, but that's the gist.
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LibraryThing member eduscapes
This is the second of a number of wonderful spiritual adventures.
LibraryThing member Giglio.Danny
I found "My Ishmael" ot be the least valuble and least entertaining of the Ishmael Trilogy. The book focuses mainly on the same ideas and thoughts presented in the first two books, and adds a different narrator in order to represent the newly formulated ideas. Quinn says that he wrote the novel in
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order to answer the influx of questions from eager readers, and I can honestly say that he does accomplish this very well.
The book utilizes the same 'transcibed conversation' style of the original, but this time with an innocent, eager 10 year old girl. Although, there is not much new material brought forth in this sequel, Quinn does an excellent job to present his ideas from a new perspective. He uses the text to focus his arguments on the SOLUTIONS to totalitarian agriculuralism, rather than the CAUSES. I did not enjoy the (healthy) portion of the book which recounts the protagonist's journey to Africa. This takes up a good third of the text, and adds very little to the author's arguments on civilization.
However, the novel does do an excellent job to conclude the series. Without giving too much away, Quinn leaves the reader with no doubt as to how he/she can 'help the cause'. I reccomend this to anybody who is eager to become more informed, and even become active on the topic of 'totalitarian agriculturalism'.
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LibraryThing member Mdshrk1
This book is told from the viewpoint of a young woman, and I like it better than "Ishmael." It explains some of the incongruences of the first book.

My favorite section of the book is the section on modern education. As with Quinn's other book I read, my eyes were opened to some very obvious
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things. Suppose I'd better find "The Book of B."
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LibraryThing member dpevers
Taking place co-currently with the events of "Ishmael", it expands the themes of that story: environment, human history, and animal sentience; while adding some mystery and intrigue in an exciting plot for an escape.
LibraryThing member owen1218
Another solid and thought-provoking book by Daniel Quinn. The author's promotion of evolutionary psychology grated on me, but I otherwise liked the message.
LibraryThing member Sean191
Daniel Quinn gives a lot of food-for-thought in this sequel to Ishmael. In My Ishmael, again, there's a talking philosopher gorilla (the title's namesake) who takes on a student to try to educate (in this case) on what's needed to save humanity from society.

I thought Quinn presented many valid
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points through his gorilla stand-in, but I also think it's all just a dream. I don't have much faith in society ever righting its problems and I have a feeling the proclamation that "the meek will inherit the earth" will actually be spot-on. But the meek will end up taking things full-circle with simple organisms being there in the end.

Interesting, thought-provoking, frustrating, depressing - My Ishmael.
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LibraryThing member shannonkearns
re-read march 19, 2008. even better the second time. i feel like i need to keep re-reading this book like every month or so, so that it all sinks in. still formulating thoughts and actions from reading it. such an amazing book, though.
LibraryThing member grandpahobo
The final book in the terrific Ishmael series. A must read.


Original publication date



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