The Ishmael Guestbook Archives: 13-30 June 1997

Ismael is a portentous book with a vital insight into the cultural processes that shape us all. I recommend it to my students with this caution: Ishmael does not directly deal with one of the most anthropocentric and pernicious of the whisperings of Mother Culture; the Taker concept of free will. Indirectly, the book approaches free will by implying that Taker culture was a result of free choices made by our ancestors and we, their heirs, must make free choices to undo what's been done. Is it possible that the concept of free will is another manifestation of the usurping of Godlike power that got us into the mess we're in and will continue to intensify our problems so long as we hold onto it? Is it possible that giving up the idea of free will, an idea that Leaver cultures never embraced, might provide us with a new point of view; one we need most in finding fresh new directions? Is it possible that the concept of free will is frequently nothing more than an excuse to blame others for our shared bewilderment, i.e. young blame old; old blame young; blacks blame whites; whites blame blacks; women blame men; men blame women; pro-this blames pro-that; pro-that blames pro-this and the real problems and their solutions become hopelessly bogged down in the politics of culpability? Food for thought.
robert ecker <>
boulder, co USA - Friday, June 27, 1997 at 21:43:54 (PDT)
A friend handed me a copy of Ishmael one day on his return from college, swearing "This book will change your life!" I smiled condescendingly, thinking "oh, of course it will." But by the time I was ten pages into it I was enraptured, unable to put it down. After I was sixty pages into it I was challenging all of my basic ideas and philosophies. By the time I was done I knew I'd never look at the world the same way again, and I haven't since. This unique and magical book is amazing, and will alter the thinking of any open-minded or earth-minded person who reads it.
Jonathan Taylor <>
Lancaster, PA USA - Friday, June 27, 1997 at 15:20:32 (PDT)
If I was asked to name the one book that had the most profound effect on my life, it would have to be "Ishmael". There's just nothing else like it. It's the only book that I've ever read twice in succession because I was so captivated that I was afraid I might have missed something the first time through.
David Cochran <>
Durham, NC USA - Thursday, June 26, 1997 at 11:21:04 (PDT)
I haven't completely finished Ishmael. To tell you the truth I am kind of scared to. It's just that I look around and I don't see a whole lot of people who would like to make a difference. I am not trying to be a pessimist. Believe me I try to tell people every day how we are hurting our planet. For the past year I have been reading books that give me a different outlook on life. I am hoping that Ishmael will give me the strength to change a few minds.
Corrie <>
Hamilton, Ontario Canada - Wednesday, June 25, 1997 at 13:49:29 (PDT)
Pass it on. I have given the book to a number of people, many of whom found it fascinating and passed it on themselves. I hope it will find its way into the mainstream and the schools. I have been talking about it in the college courses I teach. However, the ideas are so new it takes people a while. So we are going to have to keep at it.
Rob Winningham <Robert_Winningham@Baylor.Edu>
Waco, Texas USA - Wednesday, June 25, 1997 at 10:44:54 (PDT)
I was recently handed a copy of the book by a close friend of mine while visiting my home town. He organized a stack of around 12 books for me and placed Ishmael on top stating, "this one changed my life." I immediately read and experienced the book. Upon finishing I felt very alone, as though I held some great secret that no one would ever believe. Finding this site was extremely comforting. My friend, Oran has founded a Non-Profit Organization called "The Crane Foundation" which I'm sure you will all find a positive step. I have been working on a web site for the group which can be found at Have a look and feel free to contact me with any questions or information. Take Care Michael
Michael White <>
Colorado Springs, Colorado USA - Tuesday, June 24, 1997 at 17:28:53 (PDT)

I started the book on Thursday and am about 1/3rd through it. Fascinating so far. I'll check in again when I'm done.
rpcman <>
USA - Monday, June 23, 1997 at 15:57:12 (PDT)

Through all the books I've every read, Ishmael ranks in the top five. Ishmael not only has an interesting story you learn about a lot of different things. I wish everybody would read Ishmael and experiance the same thing I have. Ishmael has opened my eyes to a lot of key issues. My favorite analogy Daniel Quinn uses is about how when the first people were trying to fly an airplane, they flew off a cliff and were gliding and feeling wonderful and only until they were ten feet away from the ground did they realize they were in a free fall. This was compared to how we are selves are going to crash. Ten feet away from death we will finally realize that there's something wrong but it will be too late to change anything. -Brian Gerber
Brian Gerber <>
Amherst, Ma USA - Thursday, June 19, 1997 at 20:21:24 (PDT)
Before I read the book. I was so naive! You have opened a dormant part of my mind. I really want to thank you. Since I don"t have the opportunity to know you personally, I did the next best thing... I"ve recommended your book to a lot of people I know in the past two years, and everytime the impact is similar... Huge! THANK YOU MR. QUINN, Thank you.
Michael Sagol <>
Los Angeles, California USA - Wednesday, June 18, 1997 at 11:35:24 (PDT)
I just finished reading the book today, --a very powerful and insightful book and very iconoclastic, taking on western civilization and all its religions. I believe that a plague of some sort will wipe out mankind mostly and other life forms will evolve to sapiens level eventually. I like to cultivate and propagate trees but I think I am spitting in the wind and that it is too late for man but not hopeless for the planet. The gaia hypothesis is that the planet will take care itself and I think the phenomenon of humankind is self-limited.
Eric Volck <>
Cincinnati, OH USA - Tuesday, June 17, 1997 at 17:42:57 (PDT)
I first read Ishmeal when I was 14 (I'm now almost 16) because my mom's friend thought I would enjoy it. Ever since I read it, my mind and eyes look at the world at a whole new point of view. I see things in a way I might have not seen without Ishmael. I've had several of my teachers read it(all positive and enthusiastic reactions) and most of my friends.
Elizabeth S. Hamm <>
Billerica, Massachusetts USA - Tuesday, June 17, 1997 at 15:51:45 (PDT)
I prefere write in french, it's most easy for me. Thank you. J'ai trouvévotre livre bouleversant, non au sens émotionnel du terme mais parce c'estla première fois que j'ai lu un livre qui donne une vision cohérente du monde dans lequel nous vivons. Merci pour nous etnos enfants. A bientôt ! See you soon !
Michael, Jocelyneand Marianne MULERO <I have note-mail (for the moment !!)>
Joinville-le-Pont, FRANCE - Tuesday, June 17, 1997 at 10:49:04 (PDT)
Nick and I are in our 40's -- Jenny is a college sophomore. There is no "generation gap" in our thoughts about Ishmael -- we all think perhaps it has changed the basic philosophy we have held about our lives. We have never thought the world was here for the benefit of our species, but we have never thought deeply about what that implies before now. I think we now will in everything we do. We are making our way through the recommended other readings and trying to see what we can do to get others introduced to Ishmael, and "B", and the thoughts therein. Daniel Quinn has a wonderful gift for sharing and teaching.
Betsy Zelinger, Nick Zelinger, Jenny Zelinger <>
Lakewood, CO USA - Monday, June 16, 1997 at 22:20:22 (PDT)
Mr. Quinn: I attend Alverno College in Milwaukee Wisconsin. I am a registered nurse going back to college for my BSN. I am taking a summer course (6cr.) and this novel was our first assignment. I found the book to be fascinating and yet difficult to comprehend at the same time. Four of us presented the premises of the Taker and Leaver people and discussed whether or not Ishmael has a dualistic thinking that humans in this era would be unable to achieve. What I mean by this is that I feel that most of us want to be leavers and walk softly on the hearth, but we are also takers. I am not willing to give up my cars or airconditioning, but I do feel that I need to be responsible for the caregiving of our planted
Alta L. Ryan <>
Rockford, Il. USA - Saturday, June 14, 1997 at 19:02:27 (PDT)
Hi all --

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Alan, the Ishmael Webmaster <>
Houston, Texas USA - Saturday, June 14, 1997 at 16:30:14 (PDT)

Hello all of you trying to save the Earth. I must admit that so far I have only read the comments of your readers. I was impressed that most of them have expressed the thrill of discovering the fact that the human race is behaving like a bunch of lunatics - and that all of them hope that by applying the principles expressed in Ishmael the planet Earth's environment might be saved, and with that a continuation of our existence secured! I hope that my contribution to this noble goal might be of some significance. Daniel Quinn has been praised by many and described as a noble genius. I have ordered the book (Ishmael) and after reading it I will contrubute my comments. It is very interesting how these, close to 6000 million human beings, have the capacity to think, wri- te such inteligent and insightfull books (like Ishmael) and at the same time be so gullible to allow themselves to be brainwashed by various "leaders" - from popes, rabbis, kho- mainis and of course financial "gurus" - to the extent that they believe all kinds of nonsensical "quides" to life! In my view, the only hope for the future of human existence on Earth is if we find the way to "deprogram" these misguided members of humanity, and teach them the art of open "critical thinking" through which they will be able to EVALUATE carefully what they are being told, and on the basis of their sound judgement decide whether or not to act in this or other direction. Of course, considering that in many parts of the World the humans have reproduced like ridents in the field (just think of the slums of our major cities, various countries like Rwanda and Bangladesh) then it is hard to imagine that these unfortunate humans can be reached to "enlighten" them to the point where they would realize that it is more important to improve the quality of our existence than to overpopulate the region. So, I wish you all the best in you endeavours to save the Earth, but it is going to be a long and hard battle before the positive results could be felt. Sincerely, Dan Kustudich - the "freethinker".
Dan Kustudich <>
Wilfville,, NS Canada - Friday, June 13, 1997 at 14:12:34 (PDT)