A Novel

Daniel Quinn

Recommended By

Book Reviews

One of Sahil Lavingia's most recommended books.

Book Synopsis

"Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn is a compelling and thought-provoking novel that explores the intertwined worlds of philosophy, anthropology, and environmentalism. The story follows the narrator, an unnamed protagonist, who responds to an ad reading: "Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world."

Intrigued, the narrator meets Ishmael, a highly intelligent and telepathic gorilla. Ishmael assumes the role of a philosophical teacher, guiding the narrator through a series of captivating dialogues. Through these dialogues, Ishmael challenges the widely accepted notion that humanity is the pinnacle of evolution and that our civilization is sustainable.

Uncovering humanity's historical mistakes, Ishmael introduces the concept of "Takers" versus "Leavers." Takers, represented by modern humans, are a culture driven by the idea that the Earth belongs to them, and they have the right to exploit it. In contrast, Leavers, representing indigenous cultures, are characterized by their understanding that they belong to the Earth and live in harmony with it.

Delving deeper, Ishmael reveals that Taker culture is unsustainable, leading to societal collapse and environmental degradation. The novel explores various topics, including agriculture, religion, and the failures of our educational system, all of which contribute to the demise of Taker civilization.

As the lessons unfold, the narrator realizes the urgency of changing our perspective. Ishmael argues that our salvation lies in shifting from the destructive Taker mindset to embracing a Leaver perspective. Through learning from the wisdom of the past, we can forge a sustainable path forward.

"Ishmael" challenges readers to reevaluate their understanding of the world and to question the assumptions that have led us to our current predicament. Quinn's narrative beautifully balances philosophy and storytelling, compelling readers to consider powerful and transformative ideas.

This highly acclaimed novel resonates with those seeking a deeper understanding of our relationship with the natural world and offers a thought-provoking exploration of how we can change the course of our shared future.

Explore More Books

See All
A Guide To Econometrics
The Passage of Power
A Great Leap Forward?
Forward the Foundation
Healthy Buildings
True Believer
American Prison
Powering the Future
The Long Tail
A Soldier of the Great War
The Network State
True Enough
Inside Trump's White House
Wild And Crazy Guys
Who Moved My Cheese?
Making The Modern World
The War of Art
Days of Rage
The Activist's Media Handbook
The Persian Expedition
On Wings of Eagles
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Art of  Scientific Investigation
A Matter of Degrees
My Stroke of Insight
The Story of Civilization: The Age of Voltaire
All The Light We Cannot See
Ending the War on Drugs
Diffusion of Innovations
Happy Accidents
Twelve Against The Gods
The Deficit Myth
Bobby Kennedy
The Ethics of Money Production
Mapping the Mind
Naked Statistics
Things Never To Tell Children
Liar's Poker
The Black Book of Communism
Managing Oneself
The House of Getty
The Gift of Good Land
Who's In Charge
The Razor's Edge
Benjamin Franklin
I Love Capitalism
Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman
Future Forward
Representing Talent
The Closing of the American Mind
War and Chance
Intellectuals and Race
Security Analysis
The Power of Full Engagement
Confessions of a Pricing Man
Portfolios of the Poor
The Prophet
Pattern Recognition
Cloud Atlas
Sit Like a Buddha
7 Powers
Slow Horses
The British Are Coming
Experimental Man
The Omnivore's Dilemma
The Nature of the Beast
My Forty Years with Ford
Competing in the Age of AI
Shadow Divers
The First Conspiracy
Academically Adrift
As I Lay Dying
Army Of None
The Devil’s Financial Dictionary
Bird by Bird
Letters from a Stoic
The Anatomy of the State
The Laws of Thermodynamics
The Diversity Bonus
The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo
The Case for Nationalism
But What If We're Wrong?
The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy
A Very Expensive Poison
The Lights in the Tunnel
Tiny Habits
Be Here Now
Marc's Mission