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Publisher's Summary

One of the most beloved and best-selling novels of spiritual adventure ever published, Ishmael has earned a passionate following. This special 25th anniversary edition features a new foreword and afterword by the author.

“A thoughtful, fearlessly low-key novel about the role of our species on the planet...laid out for us with an originality and a clarity that few would deny.” (The New York Times Book Review)

Teacher Seeks Pupil.
Must have an earnest desire to save the world.
Apply in person.

It was just a three-line ad in the personals section, but it launched the adventure of a lifetime.

So begins an utterly unique and captivating novel. It is the story of a man who embarks on a highly provocative intellectual adventure with a gorilla - a journey of the mind and spirit that changes forever the way he sees the world and humankind’s place in it.

In Ishmael, which received the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship for the best work of fiction offering positive solutions to global problems, Daniel Quinn parses humanity’s origins and its relationship with nature, in search of an answer to this challenging question: How can we save the world from ourselves?

Explore Daniel Quinn’s spiritual Ishmael trilogy, available on audio:
Ishmael • My Ishmael • The Story of B

Praise for Ishmael

“As suspenseful, inventive, and socially urgent as any fiction or nonfiction you are likely to read this or any other year.” (The Austin Chronicle)

“Before we’re halfway through this slim book...we’re in [Daniel Quinn’s] grip, we want Ishmael to teach us how to save the planet from ourselves. We want to change our lives.” (The Washington Post)

“Arthur Koestler, in an essay in which he wondered whether mankind would go the way of the dinosaur, formulated what he called the Dinosaur’s Prayer: ‘Lord, a little more time!’ Ishmael does its bit to answer that prayer and may just possibly have bought us all a little more time.” (Los Angeles Times)

©1992 Daniel Quinn (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“A thoughtful, fearlessly low-key novel about the role of our species on the planet...laid out for us with an originality and a clarity that few would deny.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“[Quinn entraps] us in the dialogue itself, in the sweet and terrible lucidity of Ishmael’s analysis of the human condition.... It was surely for this deep, clear persuasiveness of argument that Ishmael was given its huge prize.” (The Washington Post

“It is as suspenseful, inventive, and socially urgent as any fiction or nonfiction book you are likely to read this or any other year.” (The Austin Chronicle

What listeners say about Ishmael

Average Customer Ratings

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  • jonathan rene hernandez
  • 01-08-21

Yo Morgan Freeman yo

Good book. Insightful , fun and Morgan freeman. Need I say more? Loser will need me more

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  • N. Ha'o
  • 07-10-21

Finally unabridged!

I am so glad I waited until the full book was available. I read it about 20+ years ago & have been waiting to be able to listen to it. So highly recommend this for everyone and will now listen to the other two in the series if they are available & unabridged.

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  • B. McCallen
  • 10-09-21

I share this book with everyone I meet

A necessary lesson and knowledge for a world that needs a new path forward. You will finish this book with a better understanding of yourself, your purpose, and the way you think of the word "culture"

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  • Wendy Price
  • 02-09-21

This book is a load of nonsense

This book is lies, twisted to fill insanity. There are massive gaps in logic and rewritten history and racism in this book.

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  • Patrick
  • 29-08-21

Great book.

I'd already read the book, so I knew it was fantastic. If not read the forward or afterward before. The afterward comes across as just a plug for Quinn's other books.

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  • Rochelle D Mays
  • 22-07-21

A TeulyPerception Altering Journey

A friend told me about Ishmael. Her enthusiasm prompted me to download and begin my listening that same day. I had no idea of how this story would alter my perception of myself. My life, and introduce 'The Mythology of Culture' and force me to examine the stronghold of my belief system. I would encourage everyone to spread this book amongst those they know. So that perhaps conversations of enlightenment and change can take place amoung the 'takers'.

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  • Jordan McDuffie
  • 10-07-21

Amazing

This is one of the most thought provoking books I have had the joy of reading. It has quickly become one of my favorites and I will recommend it to anyone who will listen.

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  • JJWanago
  • 08-07-21

Compelling story, excellent narration

Wow! What a great audiobook! I am a first-time reader (listener) of Ishmael, and am so glad that I waited for this unabridged version to be released. The forward and afterword are read by Morgan Freeman, who is, of course, excellent, and the main narrator is fantastic as well. You cannot walk away from this story without having some serious introspection on how we as humans have chosen to live and interact with the rest of the natural world, and where we are heading as a result. I took notes while listening, and have already felt compelled to bring up this book in conversations with friends and family. It is the story of “Takers” and “Leavers,” and the effects “Mother Culture” has had on humans ever since the Agricultural Revolution. The ideas are so well thought out and articulated that it’s no surprise to learn in the forward that Quinn had written several versions of this general story before perfecting it with Ishmael. While the entire story is still very much applicable to life in 2021, it was especially interesting to see parallels between specific examples in the book and events that have occurred in the almost 30 years since the book was written. Overall, I highly recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-07-21

Absolutely amazing

Great book with a life changing message. A must for anyone interested in the world and humanity.

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  • Leo
  • 23-09-21

Hard to describe.

I was recommended this book without the person going into too much detail about what it was about.
The recommendation was based on our shared interest in exploring long told and firmly held beliefs that permeate our society and our lives.
So I began listening and the skilful way the author covers such a topic, while at the same time not being patronising kept me listening. The writing teases out the main message until the reader is fully ready. And then delivers it in an unforgettable few words. Totally decimating a long told and firmly held belief of my own upbringing, and that of most of us.
A life changing book. It you allow it to be.

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  • 1984_is_now
  • 16-10-21

Pretentious

This book is the equivalent to modern art. One dot of paint in the middle of a blank canvas that everyone claims to 'understand' because they don't want to appear stupid. But in reality it means nothing.
This book is one person's opinion, and honestly just has no basis in reality as we know it for the most part.
I have downloaded over 50 books on Audible and despite not enjoying some of them, I have always managed to finish them. But then I made the mistake of purchasing Ishmael...