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 Study Guide


  • Daniel Quinn: October 11, 1935-February 17, 2018
    February 17, 2018

  • What in the world is Daniel doing now? An answer from Rennie Quinn.
    February 16, 2018

    A few weeks ago, after a cardiology appointment, Daniel said to me, "I don't want to be kept alive just so I can get to age 90." "Of course not," I said, and he sighed with relief. Little did I know that that choice would have to be made so soon.

    But this week, after days in the hospital with aspiration pneumonia plus scads of consultation with doctors in one specialty after another, the choice was clear. Enough!

    So Daniel is now in residence at Houston Hospice - "the best in the city" - according to everybody who knows anything about such places. It's a wonderful old mansion that has been adapted into a warm, welcoming place where whole families, including pets, are welcome.

    It's here, in a large room with a high ceiling and a wall of windows overlooking trees and a lush green courtyard, that Daniel is entering the "fire of life" that he describes in the epilogue to Providence: the Story of a FIfty-Year Vision Quest.

    Ishmael disappeared from the scene abruptly at the end of his story, leaving many readers in tears. Daniel wants no tears. As he wrote in Providence, "To each is given its moment in the blaze, its spark to be surrendered to another when it is sent, so that the blaze may go on."

  • 25 years of Ishmael--and what comes next. . .
    May 27, 2017

    Twenty-five years ago I introduced readers worldwide to the teachings of a gorilla sage, changing the way millions understand how things came to be this way. In the decade that followed, "this way" came to have a new and unexpected name: The Sixth Extinction. It is now widely assumed by the world’s biologists that our species, Homo sapiens, will be extinct within the next century. Will disappear completely, forever.

    Alongside the announcement of the 25th Anniversary of the book Ishmael, I want to tell you about the book I’m working on now. This one won’t describe the horrors, the desperation, the descent into savagery of a Sixth Extinction. On the contrary, this one will challenge the inevitability of human extinction, will propose a way of using the next century, not for extinction, but for building a human society capable of having life for the lifetime of this planet—not for a hundred years or a thousand, but for millions. Its working title:

    Ishmael on Ending the Sixth Extinction.

    Its not the story of an easy achievement but a terrible one. Not a story of sweetness and gentility but of ruthlessness and ferocity. One so terrible that we will be forced to ask: Is human life WORTH it? So painful that we’ll have to ask: maybe we SHOULD "go gentle into that good night!"

    You don’t see or hear much of me now, but you’ll see and hear even less of me in the future . . . until this book is finished. Just to let you know. By choice I’d be an even more public man than I am right now. More easy to get to. More helpful. But until this book is finished, I’ll be harder to get to, less helpful. For a year or so.

  • An update from Daniel
    September 26, 2016

    Many thanks to all of you who’ve commiserated, offered good wishes, and sent hopes for a speedy recovery from the misstep that resulted in my hip fracture in July. I’m back home now, still getting regular visits from a physical therapist and working toward walking on my own. But the X-rays assure us that all is well, and I’m at least part-time back at my computer and regular routine.

    Seventeen years ago, when I finished writing Beyond Civilization, I would've agreed that my major work was done, that in Ishmael and the books that followed it I’d said what I principally have to say and was free to resume a career as a fiction writer, with novels like After Dachau and The Holy. Happily, I was mistaken.

    Therefore, the major part of the routine to which I must now return is getting back to work on the new book that I've been embroiled in for the better part of a year. This is my most important book by far, and it's almost as difficult to get down on paper as Ishmael was. I'd like to think another year will see it finished. Or maybe two. Oddly enough, or perhaps one could say "providentially," this accident and forced hiatus made me realize that I was moving in the wrong direction with the book. Being forced to stop the writing, I was able to rethink what I'd been doing, and so about two months worth of work that I would have done and then had to scrap has been avoided. All because I unwittingly stepped into that hole in the street in the midst of a rainstorm. I vividly remember, while lying there in the rain and howling for help: "I'll bet you think this is just a coincidence!"

    Anyhow, I know that for the foreseeable future I’m going to be busy with this book virtually every hour that I’m awake. This means that, as much as I enjoy hearing from my readers, I’m going to be less generally available than I have been and that every form of social media is going to find me even less responsive now than I have been in the past. I appreciate the way you've communicated with each other through the Guestbook here and on my Facebook page and trust you'll continue that practice, even though my own participation will be limited. (I will, of course, always be available to teachers and classes for telephone conferences.)

Ishmael-25th Anniversary Edition


  • Pan Earth: a site dedicated to a scientific, holistic approach to world problems (and population in particular).

  • Read Ishmael: a site created by Quinn readers to reach out to other prospective readers.

  • Friends of Ishmael Society: find local groups (and more).

  • Cultural Survival: partnering with indigenous peoples to defend their lands, languages, and cultures.

  • Sacred Land Film Project: dedicated to protecting the Earth's sacred places through education and action.

  • Ishmael's Annex: your source for shirts, bumper stickers, and other Ishmael-related artifacts (featuring DQ designs). It provides much of the funding that keeps this website going.

  • Here are some new Facebook pages established by people who want to share and discuss Daniel's work and related subjects. They're all somewhat different, depending on the focus of the creator, so check them out and interact with them as you see fit.

  Not a single program was ever needed to forward the Industrial Revolution.

Beyond Civilization


Read more from Daniel's work

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