Ishmael - by H. G. Wells

"People's lifestyles need to change. The whole world is at stake."


The main character of Ishmael is being taught a lesson about how man should live, after mankind has almost destroyed the world. The teacher, a telepathic gorilla named Ishmael, teaches this lesson by asking questions and letting his student fill in the blanks. This novel is quite far fetched but it makes sense. The author chose to use an animal as the teacher because animals have not aided in the destruction of the world. They take some and leave some, unlike humans. An intellectual gorilla can see these actions in humans. So, Ishmael has decided to do something about it.

Ishmael is quite the intellectual. His questioning method of teaching is somewhat hard to follow, but you learn more that way. You think more. Ishmael compares the actions of humans to other stories, and the tales fall into place as he concludes each story. It gives you a new perspective on how humans live.

I really encourage anyone to read this book. It can teach you a lot. People’s lifestyles need to change. The whole world is at stake. This could be your first step in doing something about it.

    - Kyle T.



"Ishmael teaches his theory of what is wrong with society and how to fix it."


Ishmael was written by Daniel Quinn in 1992. It was his first book. Ishmael also won the Turner Tomorrow Fellowship prize. This novel is the story of a gorilla named Ishmael who is rescued from a traveling show, then learns how to communicate with humans and how to think like they do. He says he has “failed” in the first four students he tried to teach because the only subject he teaches is too difficult to understand. His fifth student, who remains unnamed throughout the novel, is the narrator, who finds Ishmael through a newspaper ad reading, “Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person. Ishmael tries to teach his students his theory of what he thinks is wrong with human society and how to fix it. Most of the novel is just dialogue between Ishmael and his student. I think this subject is quite interesting, the way he teaches it. It is very deep and a little difficult to understand. Once you read the novel, you will understand why his first four students fail. I learned a few things myself from the teachings of Ishmael. Quinn sets up a very good argument about human society’s problems when he talks about the “Leavers,” who live peacefully with the rest of life, and the “Takers,” who take up agriculture and technology and seek to conquer the rest of the world. Ishmael teaches about these two groups and how they make their story in human history.

I think this novel is very well crafted and thought out, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in human society. Anyone would enjoy its many “adventures of the mind and spirit.” It may seem boring at first, but once the dialogue draws you in, you will find it to be a very interesting topic that is being discussed. Do not hesitate to buy this novel; you will not waste your money. You will find that this novel is better than you think.

    - Robert S.