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"My Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn: Why did gunman James Jae Lee embrace this book?

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(Read caption) "My Ishmael" author Daniel Quinn says gunman James Jae Lee warped his beliefs and words.

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"My Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn was an award-winning – albeit quirky – 1997 novel that had long inspired a cult following. But the book made a tragic splash into headlines yesterday when it appeared at the heart of gunman and hostage-taker James Jae Lee's angry online manifesto.

"The Discovery Channel and it's [sic] affiliate channels MUST have daily television programs at prime time slots based on Daniel Quinn's 'My Ishmael' pages 207-212 where solutions to save the planet would be done in the same way as the Industrial Revolution was done, by people building on each other's inventive ideas," Lee wrote on his SaveThePlanetProtest website.

Quinn, who is the author of 13 books and has a reputation as a renowned lecturer on environmental topics, seemed "stunned" yesterday – according to The Washington Post – to hear of Lee's use of his book.

Although he acknowledged that his books do focus on topics like the "race between food production and population growth" – a concern that appeared to have become an obsession with Lee – Quinn fully repudiated Lee's use of violence.


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