Daniel Quinn,
Ishmael
(Bantam, 1992)

When you come across a book that claims to hold the key to saving our troubled environment, does this tired, over-hyped and under-done image come to mind: that we can halt the earth's destruction by recycling every bit of plastic, glass and aluminum we can find, becoming vegetarians, increasing our intake of granola, installing solar panels on our rooftops and shopping only at Fresh Fields, that we can mend the hole in the ozone layer by puttering around in electric cars, curbing bovine flatulence and boycotting aerosol sprays and other nasties that contain CFCs, and that you can halt the extinction of endangered species by buying your Christmas cards from any number of wildlife preservation organizations?

If you're seeking a book like this, then stop reading, jump in your electric car and putter back to the Barnes & Noble for something else. Get a caramel latte in a post-consumer recycled paper cup in the Starbucks Cafe while you're there.

If, instead, you desire to have a spiritual understanding of how our civilization got to this point, where it is inevitably hurtling towards at an alarming rate of speed, and more plausible and urgent reasons to actively pursue a new solution to prevent our eminent self-destruction, then I strongly recommend you read Ishmael. Although it is listed under fiction, you will find its message will resonate in your mind far longer than any non-fiction book ever could.

It begins innocently enough -- the narrator of the story is perusing the local newspaper, and comes across a simple, three-line ad in the personals section:

TEACHER SEEKS PUPIL.
Must have an earnest desire to
save the world. Apply in person.

His initial reaction is fairly normal -- he curses, spits, throws the paper to the floor, then picks it up and throws it in the trash.

After having some breakfast, he fishes the paper out of the trash and rereads the ad to make sure he didn't imagine it. He decides to go to the office listed in the ad and see for himself who this "teacher" really is. When he arrives, he finds it's a very ordinary, almost run-down office building, the room located in the back, near the loading docks. The office itself is nearly empty, save for a bookshelf in one corner, and a lone overstuffed chair in the middle of the room, facing a wall with a glass panel that looks into an adjacent room. What he encounters behind that plate glass window begins a spiritual adventure that will keep you enthralled to the very last page.

This is truly a book to be experienced. You will find yourself drawn into the imagery almost immediately, discovering new perspectives on old questions, shedding light on unexplained mysteries that have become so ingrained in our culture that we have just accepted them as truth -- all of this hitting home on personal levels that will be both enlightening and disturbing. For anyone who is sick and tired of the current state of the world and the ineffectiveness of the "politically correct" solutions, Ishmael should be high-ranking on your must-read list.

[ by Jennifer Judice ]



Buy it from Amazon.com.