Atlas Shrugged

ISBN: 0452011876
ISBN 13: 9780452011878
By: Ayn Rand Leonard Peikoff

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About this book

This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world and did. Was he a destroyer or the greatest of liberators?Why did he have to fight his battle, not against his enemies, but against those who needed him most, and his hardest battle against the woman he loved? What is the world’s motor — and the motive power of every man? You will know the answer to these questions when you discover the reason behind the baffling events that play havoc with the lives of the characters in this story. Tremendous in its scope, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life — from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy — to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction — to the philosopher who becomes a pirate — to the composer who gives up his career on the night of his triumph — to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad — to the lowest track worker in her Terminal tunnels. You must be prepared, when you read this novel, to check every premise at the root of your convictions.This is a mystery story, not about the murder — and rebirth — of man’s spirit. It is a philosophical revolution, told in the form of an action thriller of violent events, a ruthlessly brilliant plot structure and an irresistible suspense. Do you say this is impossible? Well, that is the first of your premises to check.

Reader's Thoughts

Rob

If you're into sprawling, barely coherent I-are-mighty anti-Communist rants then this is for you. I suppose in our moments of weakness, we can look to Ayn Rand's philosophy to bring out our inner-super-humans. Except that really it's just a polarized response to Marx and Lenin (whom I have found equally unpalatable).What's that? You want me to separate the aesthetic elements from the philosophy? Sure thing. This book reads like an instruction manual for drawing right angles.----See also:• http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.c...• http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/a...

Greg

Excellent comparison using extreme socialism and extreme individualism/capitalism. The socialist side didn't want competition, preferred an even playing field which results in total breakdown of the economic and educational systems. Illustrates the error of a feel-good educational system that yields incompetence. The extreme capitalist is not only profit driven but pushes self and business to excel at all cost. Doesn't appear to be concerned with responsibilities toward providing for poor. Doesn't allow for compasion towards poor, widows/orphans.Of course the capitalists here did provide jobs to competent workers and loyalty existed between the owner and employees. From Rand's atheist perspecitve there is no higher authority than the individual. As a Christian we should encourage the unemployed/uneducated to be responsible citizens and make the changes in their lives to be productive. Care for widows/orphans and those truly unable to work is our responsibility as Christians. We should insist on an educational system to push students to expand their minds and develop the ability to think clearly, make decisions based on research and reading. eliminate the feel-good mentality and create a self confident student who "feels good" because of success in studies, understanding of history and how societies have been successful and how corruption caused their destruction. Also, develop the ability to sort through the political smoke so often heard or seen in print.

Samara

I read this book while a teaching assistant in Japan (a semester-long program). I read another of Rand's books, The Fountainhead, as a wee lass (just after graduating from high school, I believe), and I remember being entranced and enraged simultaneously by that book. (I'm sure I'll review it at some point.)For those of you who do not have the ... pleasure ... of knowing Rand, she believed that all novels should have a sort of philosophical or belief-centered backing, and hers certainly do, based as they are on her philosophy of Objectivism. (Some will say her belief system isn't fit for the term philosophy, but I digress.) I really don't feel like giving an in-depth look at Objectivism here, but I'll say at this point that two of the centrat tenets of Rand's objectivism are that humans should pursue their own happiness and that selfishness is a virtue. (If the idea of that second one angers you, let me tell you that this book will be fun in that sort of burning-with-righteous-indignation way.)I actually enjoyed this book. I honestly did. I enjoyed the characters, even though the villians were more cariactures than characters and the good guys were akin to Nietzsche's Super Man (tm). I enjoyed the plot, even when Rand's belief system pushed it into the realm of the unbelievable. I even gained a smattering of respect for the idea that selfishness can be a virtue--I know, I know, who'd believe that of me?However, the novel is far from perfect. Because of Rand's strict adherence to "realism" we are treated to a speech in the book that takes two hours to speak out loud. (Galt's infamous speech is said to be that long in the book, so OF COURSE she actually had to have enough words to fill those two real-time hours.) This wouldn't have been bad except that it was overly pedantic. I guess that brings me to my next complaint--the imagery that Rand used really annoyed me. Sure, Ayn, we get it--you have a thing for trains and industry. Fine. But does every single piece of imagery have to be cast of that mold? This verges on the pedantic again. (I'm afraid that comment probably only makes sense after reading the book.) I know why she used imagery the way she did, but it made the book too simple for me--which was probably the point, but I don't care. I have my preferences.Also, there is the flagrant Orientalism. If you are offended by it, you will have a few sections to roll your eyes at. (But be mindful that Rand was writing before Said's Orientalism came out--a long while before.) I will say that it was a hoot to read this book while in Japan. Ah, the intellectual interplay that happened!Overall, I did enjoy the book. Many people are going to be disgusted because of the message, but that's why I found it intriguing. I honestly enjoy digging into minds that differ greatly from my own. I found her views to be better expressed here than in The Fountainhead, to be honest, and the book to be better written. That shouldn't be much of a surprise since this apparently the more well-known of the two novels.I guess my final statement is that all Rand-bashers should actually read this book--at least--before the throttling starts. Enjoy it for what it is.

Dustin

In early 1945, Ayn Rand embarked on the work which would eventually be considered her literary masterpiece. With a working title of The Strike, she diligently filled numerous notebooks, detailing her characters, plot, and theme, amongst others. Not for an audience, "but strictly for herself--that is, for the clarity of her own understanding," writes her literary executor, Leonard Peikoff. "These journals are also a fascinating record of the step-by-step birth of an immortal work of art." The opening sentence is one of sheer brilliance. The question, "Who is John Galt?," reels the reader in instantaneously, and is very reluctant to let up. The question really resonates. Partly due to its simplicity, Rand's detail orientated, incredibly vivid prose kept me reading, completely in awe of her skillful way with with words. More importantly, the classic inquiry is voiced time and again, which serves to further elevate the overall mystery and suspense, without becoming tedious. The novel is populated with several diverse, well-developed characters. One such individual, Dagny Taggart, is a personal favorite. Superficiality aside, I love her for her unwavering convictions and determination, despite the fact that her somewhat shady actions oftentimes prove detrimental to her reputation (not that she cares.) I truly admire her, not solely for her bravery, but also for her flaws. According to Rand's notes, "..the prime movers going on strike" is "the actual heart and center of the novel." (Per her husband's suggestion in 1956, she changed the title to Atlas Shrugged.) With that in mind, I wholeheartedly agree with her estimation. Its basic premise revolves around the industrialists, or 'prime movers,' and their stand against the nation's greedy politicians. Throughout my reading of Atlas Shrugged, I was consistently amazed by its relevance, even today, 56 years after publication. For instance, there's an almost overwhelming darkness to Rand's world. Much of that bleakness stems from a declining economic state. There are no middle-class; employment is scarce; only the elite can afford new automobiles (I don't even think that new vehicles are in production.) All in all, a general sense of hopelessness. Despair. Fear. With the discovery of a motor, dubbed "the motor of the world," the story takes a drastic change in Part II, an essential change for the better, IMO. Additional characters are introduced, older ones are further developed, and more intrigue abounds. Virtually every aspect seems to be in a perpetual downward spiral. Then, in Part III, things grow increasingly worse, while coming full-circle all at once. As captivating as that all sounds, Rand blatantly ignores the most basic rule of good writing: "Show, Don't Tell." She breaks the cardinal rule, on countless occasions. For the most part, this is done to inform the reader of the deteriorating state of her world. If she had "shown" every significant event happening throughout the U.S., the novel would have become bogged down, and as a result, drag on an additional 200 pages. I am, however, a firm believer in summarization. She could have, perhaps should have, refrained from "telling" through dialogue. As interesting as said dialogue is, much of it should have been omitted. A significantly less verbose prose would have resulted in an easier, smoother-flowing story, thus strengthened the novel drastically. I really wish she would have been less wordy, and by doing, incorporate additional, more telling scenes. Particularly in Parts II and III, Rand is very didactic. This is also a big literary no-no. She uses multiple characters to express the author's personal beliefs, commonly known as Objectivism. Essentially, she believed in selfishness as virtue. Incredibly, her characters don't read as caricatures to me. They are clearly voicing the author's beliefs (as mentioned above,) but at the same time, they felt completely real. I cared about them, grieved alongside them, rooted for them. In essence, I joined their epic journey. I don't know if I've ever gotten to know such characters, in quite the same way. Here's a helpful link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectiv... For further insight into Rand's mind-set and philosophy, check out the complete Mike Wallace interview, conducted in 1959, two years after the publication of Atlas Shrugged. Thank you, again, to my good friend, Jessa Caliver.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ooKsv... Now, prior to arriving at the denouement, I admittedly had my reservations in regards to a satisfying ending. This epic tome is wholly unpredictable, and so it really could have ended in a variety of ways. Fortunately, the final three chapters (90 pages) literally catapults everything into full disarray. There were even a few jaw-dropping moments. I wasn't a bit disappointed. I found the final section to be utterly breathtaking. Beautiful. It's a very suiting ending, one I wouldn't change for the life of me. Just take a look at the first paragraph, and judge for yourself. "The music of Richard Halley's Fifth Concerto streamed from his keyboard, past the glass of the window, and spread through the air, over the lights of the valley. It was a symphony of triumph. The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that has ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean and left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance." Beautiful, isn't it?I'm kind of going through withdrawals, in a way that hasn't saddened me in quite the same way before.... I miss the characters so very much.. It's like severing a lifelong friendship...

April

** spoiler alert ** I wanted to quote Dorothy Parker and say, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” But if I tried to throw this heavy tome of over 1100 pages of 10pt type, I’d pull a muscle or damage my wall. So, no defenestration of literature for now.The book in a nutshell is arrogant, naive, outdated, and so inherently flawed that I don’t know how to begin. That Ayn Rand is for big business and small government becomes fairly obvious from the start, and if it were only about that, I’d be writing a kinder review ... because some of her ideas make sense.For instance, that competent people could get fed up with incompetent people making unreasonable demands on them that they’d just drop everything and leave? I get that. I’ve been one of those fed-up people, and in companies bought out by incompetents, smart people either leave in disgust or get fired for stupid reasons, resulting in a brain drain, which could be bad for a company. This happens on a small scale, however, and to a limited degree, contained within the company and affecting only a fraction of the staff.Yet Ayn Rand takes this small universal phenomenon and applies it to the entire world, and not just to a limited degree but taken further so that the U.S. is practically demolished--all travel, communication, order, and power grids destroyed, supposedly by incompetence--before the competent folk come back to rebuild, which is ridiculous because it ignores so much involved in the lifeblood of a country, its culture, its economy, and its legal processes. And it ignores human psychology. Even if we all subscribed to the Randian philosophy, I somehow doubt that we’d all let the world go to hell--people starving, rioting, disappearing, dying, and structures collapsing into rubble--just to make a point with those who oppose us. It seems unreasonably cruel.So why is it that Rand’s characters would run to save a blast furnace but not millions of starving people?I understand how the author feels about charity--in some respects, I feel the same way; I much prefer giving to those who are as deserving as they are needy, would rather avoid enabling those who by indulging in bad behavior might abuse other people’s generosity, and find it a touch distasteful when people outright solicit me in the name of charity--but I fail to understand how her characters can wholly ignore the needs of society and not only completely withdraw their contribution to the economy but also actively and deliberately set out to kill the economy through piracy and destruction. It stinks of vigilantism, where people outraged with the lawbreakers set out to break the laws themselves, all in the name of justice, like stooping to the level of murderers and looters by killing and stealing from those who kill and steal. Only comic book heroes get to do that, so like Rand’s heroes seem. I know that was her intention, but I don't have to like it. The book vies to be heavier than the yellow pages, and yet she has heroes I would have preferred to meet within the very slim and colorful volume of a comic book. It doesn’t seem right.What bothers me most is that her heroes are flawless by her standards, her villains wholly lacking in any virtues. She makes a lousy devil’s advocate because she fails in presenting the other side of any argument in a convincing way. When one of her heroes gets into a debate with anyone, the hero is always articulate, deliberate, reasonable, rational, and completely unflappable, however much like religious fervor his needlessly long speeches might sound--whereas the opposition always stutters, blusters, whines, complains, and gets utterly confused or bemused by the hero’s arguments. None of the opposition’s arguments make any sense or are any good, and not only do the motivations behind their actions seem forced, but the stupidity of their motivations also seem forced, as if in order to make her protagonists the epitome of rational thought, Rand must remove all traces of rational thought from her antagonists.In war, a good general thinks like the enemy, anticipates his moves, and wins by besting the enemy’s thoughtful strategy with his own. In Atlas Shrugged, however, Rand does away with the whole Know Thine Enemy concept and instead says, “Let’s just assume the enemy is abysmally stupid,” and then goes from there ... the implication being that anyone who disagrees with her philosophy must be lacking in common sense, so it takes her no effort to defend her views. Her dissenters might actually have valid points to make, but who is she to entertain that fact? She has so much conviction in her own beliefs, why bother with anyone else’s? It’s like being a medieval general in the Children’s Crusade. We have the might because we have the right. Never mind the reality.Which is? The kind of laissez-faire capitalism that the author so obviously espouses is not the best way. Russian-born Rand barely escaped communism, so I presume that because she saw one political extreme work badly, she went for the other extreme. Her hero John Galt preaches that it’s evil to compromise, so I can only assume that Rand would see any moderate view between the two as a BAD thing. Never mind the proof that history has provided that the middle ground works better than the extremes.Another bothersome bit about this book was that the heroes had all the incentive and energy to destroy everything that they had worked so hard to build and then to rebuild elsewhere as much of what they had just destroyed. They also had the patience and certainty to wait out the long years of all this activity, until the culmination of all their hopes and goals. All that, and YET, they couldn’t be bothered to work towards having the kind of government they wanted WITHOUT all that destructive behavior. They are, after all, prime movers--wealthy, intelligent, capable, and powerful--but they can’t team up to lobby against income taxes and for deregulation? They can’t form a political party, win offices, propose and pass laws that would be beneficial to them? Come on. Really?They spout this work-to-make-life-easier philosophy, but their actions contradict their creed. Galt differentiates between the looters who want to destroy and die and the producers who want to produce and live, and yet here are these heroic producers, actively destroying every productive endeavor in the country, most especially their own. What twisted logic. What hypocrisy. Like the child who cries, “If you won’t play my way, I’ll take my ball and leave.”Then there’s the unrealistic way that the heroes respond. Three men are in love with Dagny Taggart, and she sleeps with each of them in turn--yet not one of the three are jealous of the others; in fact, they all become close friends, each admiring the others. And not one of the prime movers is angry with the others who left everyone in the outside world high and dry. Only briefly is Rearden angry with d’Anconia over the copper ore, but then he comes around and forgives him for it, then goes further and thanks him for it. Not one of the businessmen blames or resents the others for leaving the country to crumble and for making their own struggle difficult. If they had all stayed put and campaigned for power, they all might have won without destroying the country first. But not one of them asks, “Is all this necessary?” Instead, they blame the “looters” for the country’s dystopian state, never for a moment considering what their own actions might have contributed to it.Another puzzle? The suicide of Mrs. James Taggart. Mrs. Taggart is of the same mind as Dagny ... and yet she fears her own shadow. If people who subscribe to Rand’s views have so much self-esteem and a will to live, why does Mrs. Taggart bow to her husband, doubt her own opinions and judgment, and then go off and kill herself? It makes as much sense as the prime movers having so much self-esteem that instead of fighting for what they want in the outside world, they go and hide in the mountains.Yet another puzzle? The villains’ reaction to Galt. Taggart hates him instantly, though he’d never met him before. Rand justifies it, but such a hatred can only be personal, and Galt is a stranger to Taggart. Up until they capture him, he’s been nothing but a name in a rhetorical question. So where do they get the idea that Galt is anyone great? By his radio speech alone? Galt had left the world before he made his bones, so he hadn’t actually proven himself to them. He might have invented a wonderful motor, but it was never patented, sold, and used in the outside world. So all they had was Galt’s word, and from that alone they want him to save the economy. Does that make sense?For villains with no self-esteem, they sure had the gall to think they could run the country well. For people who preached self-sacrifice, they sure held on to the reins of power with an obstinacy that screamed, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” In my experience, people with no self-esteem, who speak against selfishness, tend to defer such power to others, but perhaps I misunderstand. 30 long chapters full of circuitous and repetitive explanations tend to muddle things. Oh, the inanity of “Existence exists.”Particularly cringe-worthy was the rescue operation, where the heroes’ social engineering stunts to save Galt consisted of lame arguments that actually stymied the guards. That had as much authenticity as a James Bond villain taking the time to tie Bond up in some elaborate death trap while revealing all his evil, deadly plans.I did enjoy Rand’s literary style and narrative descriptions. It’s wordy and over the top, but the book was visually rich. I could easily see the world that she built. I just couldn’t understand it. A challenging book, if somewhat tedious.Finished reading July 25, 2008.

Christopher

As Ayn Rand's immortal opus, Atlas Shrugged, stands as a tome to a philosophy that is relevant today as it was in her time. Basically, the major moral theme is that there are two types of people in the world: the Creators and the Leeches.The Creators are the innovators who use the power of their will and intelligence to better humanity. The first person to create fire is often referenced as the paradigm for these people. In the book, each of the major protagonists also represent Creators improving the human condition with their force of will.The Leeches (my word) are the people who create nothing, but thrive off feeding on the Creators. In Rand's view, they are the bureaucrats, politicos, regulators, etc. Throughout human history she tells us, these people have benefited through no ingenuity of their own, but merely from piggybacking on - and often fettering - the success of the Creators.Where the conflict in this book arises is when the Creators decide they have had enough and revolt. I won't spoil the book by describing specifics, but let's just say it causes quite the societal drama. For Leeches can't feed where there's no blood.All that is fairly significant and involved and worth the read to begin with, but where this book really stimulates me is in the fact that it is still relevant. Today we have Creators and we have Leeches. Some titans of industry and technology move our culture forward and others hold it back to their own benefit. I work in Silicon Valley and I see this all the time. That's why in many ways I consider this voluminous novel to be as important to a business education as Art of War.To cite other readers' posts, you don't have to agree with what Rand is extolling, but I think you'd be foolish to try and deny the existence of this struggle since it is ingrained in humanity. Yes, Ayn does get long winded and arrogant in parts as she draws the battle lines, but I don't think an author could have crafted such a powerful conflict without copious quantities of ego to accentuate the differences.

Nandakishore Varma

I read this book as a teenager while recovering from a long bout of viral fever which had left me bedridden for almost a month: I had exhausted all my other books and forced to rummage through old shelves in my house. (Ironically, I read The Grapes of Wrath also at the same time.) My teenage mind was captivated by the "dangerous" ideas proposed by Ayn Rand. At that time, India was having an inefficient "mixed" economy comprising all the negative aspects of capitalism and socialism, and Ms. Rand seemed to point a way out of the quagmire.Almost thirty years hence, I find the novel (if it can be called that - Ayn Rand's idea of fiction is a bunch of pasteboard characters put there as her mouthpieces) to be silly beyond imagination. The premise is laughable; the characters entirely forgettable; and the writing, abyssmal. The idea that governments governing the least and allowing a "winner-take-all" economy to flourish will solve all the world's woes ("Social Darwinism", a word I've heard used to describe her philosophy) will not wash anywhere today, I would wager - even with the hard-core adherents of the GOP in the USA. Especially when we look at Europe, where capitalism has gone into a downward spiral.Ms. Rand, sorry to say, Atlas didn't shrug: Atlas collapsed!

Jason Pettus

Would you like to hear the only joke I've ever written? Q: "How many Objectivists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?" A: (Pause, then disdainfully) "Uh...one!" And thus it is that so many of us have such a complicated relationship with the work of Ayn Rand; unabashed admirers at the age of 19, unabashedly horrified by 25, after hanging out with some actual Objectivists and witnessing what a--holes they actually are, and also realizing that Rand and her cronies were one of the guiltiest parties when it came to the 1950s "Red Scare" here in America. Here in Rand's second massive manifesto-slash-novel, we follow the stories of a number of Titans of the Industrial Age -- the big, powerful white males who built the railroad industry, the big, powerful white males who built the electrical utility companies -- as well as a thinly-veiled Roosevelt New Deal administration whose every attempt to regulate these Titans, according to Rand, is tantamount evil-wise to killing and eating babies, even when it's child labor laws they are ironically passing. Ultimately it's easy to see in novels like this one why Rand is so perfect for late teenagers, but why she elicits eye rolls by one's mid-twenties; because Objectivism is all about BEING RIGHT, and DROPPING OUT IF OTHERS CAN'T UNDERSTAND THAT, and LET 'EM ALL GO TO HELL AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED, without ever taking into account the unending amount of compromise and cooperation and sometimes sheer altruism that actually makes the world work. Recommended, but with a caveat; that you read it before you're old enough to know better.

Brett

Atlas Shrugged is a ferocious defense of the concept of capitalism. Although Rand depicts capitalism from her objectivist perspective and makes monumental over-exaggerations, she succeeds in demonstrating the importance of such basic social necessities as self sufficiency, personal responsibility, accountability, punctuality, and hard work. She equally condemns such economic poisons as socialized industry, redistribution of wealth, laziness, entitlement, and incompetence. Rand shows how these economic poisons also have the power to poison the human soul, embodied in the character of James Taggart. The ideas discussed in Atlas Shrugged are of monumental importance and Rand successfully unveils the consequences of a large-scale destruction of capitalism and how and why such destruction could become reality.Aside from the political implications inherent in Atlas Shrugged, the book is also an excellent work from the fictional literature perspective. Critics condemn Rand’s bipolar use of almost godly heroes and devilish villains, claiming this as a failure to create human characters. This misconception is obviously false, based on the fact that Rand includes a Greek god’s name in the title. Creating god-like characters to emulate is not failure, it is an effective tool Rand used to establish a moral framework in a mythological industrial era. The only real criticism I can offer of this masterpiece is the use of repetitive, far too lengthy orations on objectivism, which culminates in John Galt’s two-hour speech over radio waves near the end of the book. This book could have, and probably should have, been shorter than it is. That said, I couldn’t put the book down for the first two-thirds of the story. The last couple of hundred pages were arduous, but the ending was worth the effort.I recommend this book to adult readers of all ages, creeds, and political interests. The story is gripping, and the concepts it teaches are of great value. The enjoyment and enlightenment found in the over one thousand pages of this book are well worth the time and effort it takes to get through it.

Tara

Favorite QuotesHe walked, groping for a sentence that hung in his mind as an empty shape. He could neither fill it or dismiss it.She sat listening to the music. It was a symphony of triumph. The notes flowed up, they spoke of rising and they were the rising itself, they were the essence and the form of upward motion, they seemed to embody every human act and thought that had ascent as its motive. It was a sunburst of sound, breaking out of hiding and spreading open. It had the freedom of release and the tension of purpose. It swept space clean, and left nothing but the joy of an unobstructed effort. Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke in laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had to be. It was the song of an immense deliverance.He, too, stood looking at her for a moment--and it seemed to her that it was not a look of greeting after an absence, but the look of someone who had thought of her every day of that year. She could not be certain, it was only an instant, so brief that just as she caught it, he was turning...But this was that view of human destiny which she had most passionately hated and rejected: the view that man was ever to be drawn by some vision of the unattainable shining ahead, doomed ever to aspire, but not to achieve. Her life and her values could not bring her to that, she thought; she had never found beauty in longing for the impossible and had never found the possible to be beyond her reach.

Eleanor

It took me damn near forever to get through it (just to arrive at an unsatisfying ending) but I enjoyed the bulk of Rand's writing in Atlas Shrugged. This was Ayn Rand's magnum opus designed to demonstrate her philosophy "objectivism." Long story short this book is about mid-20th-century American industrialists in a world dying of moral decay. Her heros are the honest and ambitious businessfolk, industralists, artists, creators; her villains are those that leech from them, stealing ideas, time, property, money, usually via the notion that able men should be forced to sacrifice themselves for the unable, unwilling, and/or undeserving. The book is a good piece of romantic fiction by itself except for its unnecessary length, and sometimes two dimensional characters. In essence a reaction against communism, her philosophy holds that [the following quoted from Rand:] Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; reason is man's only means of perceiving reality which exists as an objective absolute.I gather a lot of wisdom and strength from this in terms of indivduality, freedom and endurance in the face of peer/societal pressure, however I have my differences with it (in addition to the cynicism, elitism, and general contempt it tends to elicit from its ardent followers):-I don't believe in abolishing all taxes-I do believe in abstract art -I don't believe the world is overrun by moral cannibals and even if it were the solution isn't to 'run away to a secret village in the mountains'-I think she could have had a few characters with more realistic life situations, i.e. heros with children or a close group of friends who could demonstrate that one's self-interest extends to those which s/he loves.But I am all about rational, non-victimizing self-interest, and capitalism, baby. A lot of people like to bash her work as the bible of selfish assholes and I'm sure many people do misinterpret it as such, but when taken with a grain of salt, her works are inspiring to anyone who creates, values intellectual property, and aspires to greatness of utmost integrity. If you're interested in Rand's philosophy I recommend starting with The Fountainhead. That book changed my life. Atlas was my 30,000 mile checkup.

Mike

** spoiler alert ** Mike Reads Rand, Ep. 1I've always felt that you shouldn't take positions on things you don't know anything about. So while I'd heard plenty of people talk about Ayn Rand's phonebook-sized novel, they were always conversations I'd had to stay out of. Finally my curiosity got the best of me, and I picked up Atlas Shrugged on a trip to Barnes & Noble. When dealing with a book I know nothing about, I open it up to a random page, read it and, if it's enjoyable, I'll give the book a shot.I opened up on a page of John Galt's speech.I did not leave the store with a copy Atlas Shrugged that day.Several years later, my nagging curiosity finally overwhelmed my better judgement and I started off. It's a relatively easy read despite the size, mainly because of the straight-forward nature of the story, but don't let that fool you - this book can be one of the most torturous slogs you'll ever endure for the simple reason that Rand doesn't have any characters in Atlas. Instead, she populates her book with a series of shambling automata that spout three-page long lectures supporting whatever ideology they're meant to represent at the drop of that hat. Ignoring all the other problems with her characters, people simply do not act this way. Every conversation tangents off into lectures thinly veiled as dialog, and it gets progressively more ridiculous every time it happens. Galt's 50-page speech (no, really) is the most egregious example, but Francisco is another common violator - get ready to settle in for a symposium any time he shows up. I realize that this is a philosophical novel, but first and foremost a philosophical novel should be a novel. Plot and writing should never be sacrificed for you to make your point. If you can't manage that and your book devolves in to simple pedagoguery, then maybe non-fiction is the format for you? Rand may as well use the naming scheme from The Pilgrim's Progress for all the subtlety she displays here. Everyone in Atlas is either pure as the driven snow, righteous and good-natured beyond reproach, or ridiculously evil cartoons, twirling their moustaches while they tie Capitalism and Liberty to the railroad tracks. It also goes without saying that all the good guys are to a person handsome, athletic supermen, while the bad guys are all balding and overweight or cringing weaklings. And of course, when Dagny finally makes it to the striker's hide-out in Galt's Gulch, both the town and its inhabitants are flawlessly perfect and happy.Which ties directly to the next problem - Rand never shows, she tells. By which I mean to say that even beyond the characterization, she always leads you by the nose. You're never allowed to infer anything; instead, she spells it all out in big crayons so you're sure to get it. If it's tiresome in her characters, it gets even more so when it's drawn out in to her writing in general. For someone who's based her entire philosophy on the intelligence and ability of the individual, she seems amazingly unwilling to trust us to figure things out on our own. She also undermines her own case by beating you over the head with her ideas so constantly. After awhile you start to dread hearing someone talk about personal responsibility or the sanction of the victim.Which is all a shame, because there are the bones of what could have been a really great book here. The concept of all the creative, productive members of society going on "strike" and abandoning civilization is an interesting one. Rand doesn't do too bad of a job setting the scene either. She manages to create a surprisingly pervasive sense of despair in the book - this is a world that's grinding to a halt and it shows. Also, she does an impressive job of not tying the book to any definable time period. Sure, the prevalence of passenger rail travel and the fact that TVs appear only briefly towards the end is something of a give-away to people reading it today, but otherwise it's a story with remarkably little to demarcate when it should take place. I also have to give her credit for the first half of the book, where Dagny and Rearden start to piece together what's going on and try and to find the inventor of the discarded, revolutionary motor they find. This section actually reminded me somewhat of The Crying of Lot 49 - there's the same sense of a grand conspiracy just beyond view and the nagging suspicion that the conspirators are all around them. And the entire book does move briskly when people aren't speechifying - there's always some new scheme or plot twist going on. But then the last half ruins what little goodwill the book may have eked out in the beginning, as the book slams to a halt for Galt's speech and the "moochers" (groan) ratchet up their vaudevillian evil to even greater heights. It's genuinely funny to watch as they progressively screw things up worse and worse every time they try to solve a problem, but it's the loud abrasive humor of a pulp novel, not the bitting satire Rand so clearly intended it to be. Which is a good metaphor for the story in general - it reads like a pulp. And while I love pulps, they're not the vehicle for getting across arguments about the nature of truth and beauty. Like I said earlier, I feel that these sorts of works should be novels first, and I'm rating her novel, not her philosophical arguments. Rand's ideas are certainly interesting and she does make her case here, but her book pays a huge price to do so.Also, Rand has some weird ideas about sex and that's all the farther I'm going to touch that one.

Deb Seksay

** spoiler alert ** I personally have a deep attachment to this book, and am less confused about why people call me Dagny...I am oft accused of having little emotion or being 'stand offish' because I am direct when making a point. I must admit, in modern society, it is quite a disadvantage to know philosophy, math, physics, and literature, but not purses and shoes, while being a woman.It isn't for everybody. Some people get more reward from a community atmosphere, and as the girl kicked out of the smart people classes for refusing to work in groups, it is little wonder I enjoyed this piece.Is it philosophically over loaded? Yes, I will grant you that. I worry that people see this behemoth, and dive into it before reading her more direct works like The Virtue of Selfishness, which is short and to the point. Don't let a behemoth of a book that changes the lives of others bring you away from the heart of appreciating another philosophical opinion. You cannot argue for or against a thing you don't understand. To be honest, I think I'm rather appalled at people that admit they think they were lobotomized by the book. As an advocate of self-censorship, I must ask: Why did you do it? When you figured out it wasn't right for you, why did you keep going? Are you one of those people that calls the radio stations about topics you find offensive because you simply refused to change the channel? For me, though philosophical, this book makes sense when taken that way. Women have always hated me, and in recent years, I discovered that a large portion of their frustration comes from the fact that I don't get hints or passive-aggressive biting remarks, I cannot be moved by misleading speech because I see through it, and I'm smart enough to hold conversations with their men about things they just smile and nod about without ever understanding at all. I can relate to Dagny, and her confusion about interacting with 'Washington' people, and her distaste for the poor because of my life experiences. And her debut...I understand that disappointment all too well. Having been to enough parties to understand that no one there was celebrating, but hiding from lives that they hated but continued to plod through day in and day out with no effort made to change.Wordy? Yes. Preachy? Yes. Still enjoyable for me because of my unique set of experiences? Absolutely. Not enjoyable for everyone because some people aren't over keen of capitalism because of how it has been distorted and bastardized in this country? Damn skippy.Good food for Deb's brain? Yes. Would I recommend it around? Sure would. Would I tell people it is a must read? No, silly. I'm a libertarian. I don't believe that a country full of individuals should like the same things. Arguing is so important! We should always have a reason to...its how minds get sharper.

Seth

This book, as much as I detest it, is actually rather useful. Those who have read it tend to be those whom I most especially desire to avoid. Because those who have read it are invariably proud of the fact--ostentatiously so--it is even easier for me to keep my life free and clear of delusional egomaniacs. Thank you Ayn Rand.

Ian Paganus

"Shagged at Last (The Sequel)"Written while she was still alive, but published posthumously after her death in 1982, "Shagged At Last" is the posthumous sequel to Ayn Rand's greatest achievement and last work of fiction, "Atlas Shrugged" (not counting "Shagged At Last"). In this novel, she dramatizes the shortcomings of her unique Objectivist philosophy through an intellectual mystery story and magical mystery tour that intertwines sex, ethics, sex, metaphysics, sex, epistemology, sex, politics, sex, economics, sex, whatever and sex.Reconsidering her worldview, she concludes that, in order to be truly beneficial to society individuals, sex must not be just the fun bit between the serious parts, it requires serious love action between the private parts.In this sequel (which is the equal of the prequel to the sequel), Ayn Rand abandons Objectivism and embraces Sex Activism, without endorsing either Active Sexism or Subjectivism.Likewise, she urges us to abandon the Protestant Work Ethic and embrace the Catholic Sex Ethic.Her motto: No Safety Net, No Protection. Where Have All the Objectivists Gone? Set in the near-future [30 years after the time of writing in 1982] in a U.S.A. whose economy has collapsed as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators, industrialists, bankers, auditors, entrepreneurs, Republicans, bond-holders, futurists, financial advisers, chartered accountants and middle management after the re-election of a Democratic President, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life:...from the playboy genius who becomes a worthless and unproductive executive in charge of a global television network......to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction as well as that of all those around him in rural China......to the intellectual property pirate and paedophile who becomes a neo-conservative philosopher and born-again, forgive-again tele-evangelist......to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad into the ground and under the river via the world's longest, most expensive architecturally-designed and least utilised tunnel......to the lowest paid track worker in her train tunnels who can't afford to come to work by private or public transport, and must walk 20 miles and swim across the river for the privilege of a fair day's work and an unfair day's pay so that his wife can be treated for inoperable cancer and herpes, and each of their children can afford an iPad and unlimited cable access so they can watch the film of the book online on the website of a global television network managed by a worthless and unproductive executive... ...all because they have fallen victim to the political philosophy of Objectivism and have not discovered the pleasures of unprotected tantric sex.SpoilerIf you want to know who the female protagonist has deep and meaningless sex with, read the book or open the following spoiler at your own peril (to avoid disappointment, don't view the spoiler. Now.):(view spoiler)[Shouldn't it be "If you want to know with whom the female protagonist has deep and meaningless sex"? Anyway, read the book. (hide spoiler)]Get Your Copy Free or Pay for It and Get a 200% Tax DeductionPeopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with larger than life accoutrements, struggling with towering questions of good and evil, and an adolescent's curiosity and enthusiasm for sex, "Shagged At Last" is a philosophical revolution told in the form of a soft-focus, hard-core action thriller with conveniently positioned tax-deductible PowerPoint slides explaining Objectivism from an historical point of view and revealing the correct use of all body parts from an hysterical point of view.Disclaimer:The televisualisation of the hysterical perspective is currently subject to the formalisation of contractual relations with Manny and Jessica Rabbit.Ayn Rand Plays Lady MacbethYou won't find in meThe milk of human kindness,Just dire cruelty.Only Her Self to BlameRand's philosophyFucked a whole generationWith its selfishness. Turn Me On and Turn Me OffYour fans are turned onBy Sex ObjectivismBut it turns me off. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

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