Reviews of Ishmael (1992)
Review by bella (2006-08-14)
Although not the best written book ever, it is still a book that should be read because it is very good, and because it brings up some very good points in enviromental issues, which is becoming a major topic.
This book is about a gorilla that teaches a man "how things came to be this way" in terms of how man has influenced the world, mostly negatively. He (meaning Ishmael the gorrilla) focuses mostly on how humans think they dominate and rule the world and how they believe they are the smartest of all living creatures and know everything. Ishmael points out how this way of thinking has effected the whole earth and believes that humans must realize they are wrong.
I believe the reason that Ishmael is a gorilla is to emphasize the point that humans are not necessarily 'all mighty and knowledgeable' You would expect the Ishmael to be a human, since he is the teacher but that's the main point of the book!! To show that humans aren't as great as they think they are and they are actually destroying the world.
not exactly a "light read" but very good. read it.
Review by maxw101 (2005-05-25)
Ishmael is a truly unique and singular work from Daniel Quinn. It is interesting in that it is one of the true books which fall into the "love it or hate it" category. Since nearly every page of the book rests in a Socratic dialogue between Ishmael, a telepathic gorilla, and the narrator, the book becomes an extended presentation of Quinn's philosophy. The book both excels like no other book has ever excelled and falls short of its goal. No other writer has as eloquently and perfectly expressed the dangerous and dire situation of modern civilization and the vast challenges of the future. While Quinn presents this logically and simply, he does not fully clarify all of his ideas, and thus leaves himself open to criticism and rejection by some readers. For example, while Quinn presents the problems of our society quite eloquently, he does not follow this up with a proposal for the future. The "What Now?" aspect of it seems to be missed entirely. This I personally excuse in that the other books of similar nature by Quinn, starting with "My Ishmael", address this issue. Either way, this book is definitely worth reading. It will either change the way you think of the world or strengthen and deepen your beliefs, which cannot end badly.
Review by jel (2004-08-22)
I'm not sure this book really counts as fiction. It's about a talking gorilla, but that's plainly something put in to make the text less 'heavy' for most readers.
It might make a good economics or philosophy book, if only it was more solid. The format means no citations; no backup for the author's claims. I really would like to see the evidence for some of the claims made in this book.
Having said all that... well, this is definitely a MUST read for just about everyone in western society. It WILL change how you look at life -- in big ways. Get reading.
Review by Unforgiven (2003-03-10)
I read this book in the 11th grade for an Ecology class, and by the time everyone was done with it, I had already read it and My Ishmael (the sequel). I can honestly say it's changed the way I look at everything at in life, and is a truely unique way of seeing the world.
If you haven't read this book, no matter if you're a theologist or barely literate - read it. No exceptions.
Review by Shanrak (2003-03-09)
What can I say? This is one of the most original books I've ever read that made me think long and hard about humanity and its social implications as well as the reason why human beings are here on the planet. A must read for all people interested in philosophy and the purpose of life.