Atlas Shrugged

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

Check Price Now

Genres

Classic Classics Dystopia Favorites Fiction Literature Philosophy Politics Science Fiction To Read

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

Robb

I guess I can't hate this book. After reading The Fountainhead, I found myself crushing on Objectivism and Rand's brand of rugged self-reliance. Intrigued, I picked up Atlas. 1000 pages later I closed the book, opened my window and threw it into the street. This book cured me forever of this flat, willingly shortsighted b*llshit religion.I've had my run-ins with the devout and the dogmatic fans of Rand and the big O and their reluctance to even nod towards the notion that saying A is A and that Objective Reality is Real is so much wasted air surprises me. How can a person interrogate the real to such a degree, be engaged in the real so deeply so as to love it and come to rely on it the way an Objectivist *must* and not see how any deep dive into the Universe always, *must* produce nothing but doubt? Mystifying, really. It's turtles the whole way down, that's what I always say.The characters are awful, beyond cartoonish and they do nothing but mouth Rand's words. All the people that care about their fellow humans are evil. Any motive but self-interest is evil. All situations point to the inevitable and quick demise of any collectivist pursuit or charity. John Galt finally delivers a 50 page long radio speech to the entire country at the end and changes everyone's mind with his words about selfishness and we are led to believe that things begin to really look up after this.But seriously. What a crock. This book was written when Roosevelt's actions during the Depression were recent memories and the ultra-wealthy (well, at least by the standards of the time) were all hot to further centralize wealth. Well, guess what? They got what they wanted and everything sucks. Yay.

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.

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...

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!

Manny

In some ways, this is a very bad book. The style is stiff and clunky, and the world-view she is trying to sell you has holes you could drive a train through. There is a nice putdown in One Fat Englishman. The main character has just been given a precis of Objectivism. He says "I bet I'm at least as selfish as you. But I don't why I need to turn that into a philosophy". Thank you, Kingsley Amis. But on the plus side, the book is a page-turner; it does a great job of helping people brought up in a left-wing tradition to understand the right as not just deluded or evil (my friend Gen said she had the same experience after reading it); and it is good at voicing the frustration that competent and honest people feel when they are surrounded by incompetent and dishonest ones. And the romance between Dagny and Hank is emotionally very satisfying. I was so disappointed when she... hm, no spoilers. But I fear the author's desire to push her philosophical agenda got in the way of the story._________________________________________OK, let's try again. I haven't exactly changed my mind on any of the above, but, as Jordan persuasively argues, it's kind of missing the point. And, with all due respect to the other reviews here, most of them are also missing the point.Why? Well, because we're answering the wrong question. Some people uncritically adore this book. Guys, dare I suggest that you might want to broaden your reading tastes just the tiniest amount, and see if you still feel that way? A rather larger group of reviewers can't stand Ayn Rand, and point out various obvious flaws: lack of feeling for English prose style, lack of character development, lack of realistic dialogue, interminable sermons on Objectivism, and sundry other charges. Of course. All of that's clearly true. But here's the question I find more interesting: if the book is so terrible, how come it's been such a gigantic success? It's been said that only the Bible has had a greater influence on 20th century American thought. It must have something going for it. What?So here's my second attempt. I think the book is dishonest, but it's dazzlingly dishonest, on a grand scale, and that's what readers find fascinating. As everyone knows, the basic thesis is that people should be more selfish, and that this will in some mystical way be good for society as a whole; a boldly paradoxical idea, and, at first sight, it's complete nonsense. I can well believe that my selfishness might be good for me personally, but why on Earth should it be good for anyone else? It flies in the face of at least two thousand years of Western ethical thought, which has been largely focused on making people less selfish, not more. As has been widely pointed out, Objectivism is pretty much the antithesis of Christianity. Which does suggest the question of why many people on the American Right claim both to be Christians and at the same time supporters of Rand's ideas, but let's not get into that right now. I don't really understand how the American Right thinks, so it'll be more productive to consider my own reactions to the book, which were by no means all negative. Okay: at risk of appalling many of my GR friends, I have to admit that I liked a good deal of Atlas Shrugged. In particular, I find Dagny a sympathetic main character. Yes, she's the Mary Sue to end all Mary Sues, but that's exactly it. Rand believes in her so completely that I can't help being swept along. I am aware that few real women are hypercompetent technical and managerial geniuses, who think nothing of working 48 hours straight and then looking drop-dead gorgeous in a designer gown. (If the movie ever does get made, though, you must admit that Angelina Jolie was a shrewd piece of casting). Even if Dagny doesn't exist, I want her to, and I've seen many worse role-models for young women. That mixture of beauty, intelligence and passion is appealing. And sure, most of the other characters are one-dimensional stereotypes, but, when you're as self-centered as Ayn Rand was, that's how you see things. It's a subjective view, and I find it interesting to look at the world through her eyes.Now that I've admitted that I love Dagny - I must admit that I can't decide whether I want to be her or sleep with her; probably a bit of both - let's get on to analyzing Rand's big con. A large part of the book is a lavish, over-the-top, melodramatic romance. Will Dagny get her guy? She's hopelessly in love with Hank, who feels just the same way about her. But Hank's ghastly wife, Lillian, seems to be an insuperable obstacle to their happiness. Hank's got all these mistaken principles, see, which mean he has to stay with Lillian, who doesn't appreciate him one bit, rather than go off with his true love. The best scene in the book is the confrontation at the party. Hank has created his new miracle alloy, which is a thousand times stronger than steel and a cool blue-green color to boot. The very first thing he makes from is it a bracelet for Lillian. And is she grateful? Of course not! She's actually going around complaining to the other women about this ugly thing her dumb husband has given her to wear on her wrist. Why couldn't he give her a diamond bracelet like a normal guy? But Dagny, in a blazing fury, goes up to her, and in front of everyone says that she'll be so happy to swap her own diamond bracelet for Hank's unappreciated present. Honestly, if you're not on Dagny's side at this point, I fear you have no heart at all. I was certainly cheering her on, and given the general success of the novel I assume I was one of millions.Rand has stacked the deck, but she's not exactly the first author to do so. The reasonable point she's making here is that, in romantic matters, people should often do what they want to do, rather than than what they feel they ought to do. Straightforwardly selfish behavior is better for everyone; people need love, which makes them happy, rather than pity, which ultimately makes them miserable. At least, it's true in this particular case. You're sitting there willing Hank to understand what's so blatantly obvious. And, once she's got you to buy into her idea, she switches the cards right under your nose. In just the same way, she argues, people should always act selfishly! See, if you're given something you haven't truly earned (whatever that means), it won't make you happy. Moreover, the people who are actually entitled to it will feel hurt and frustrated, just like Dagny, and in the end they'll lose their motivation. And thus, um, if you tax multi-billionaires at more than whatever the fashionable rate is, civilization will collapse. QED. I may have condensed the argument a little, but I think that's roughly it.As already mentioned, this is nonsense, and shows that romance authors, even quite good ones, shouldn't try their hand at political philosophy. But that needn't stop you from appreciating their romances, and I certainly did. Next week, I will be reviewing Barbara Cartland's commentaries on Kant. To be continued.

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.

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"]>

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.

David

** spoiler alert ** “Check your premises” the major characters are told. Well let’s check the premises of Ms. Rand’s story.The first (false) premise is that there are only a dozen or so people in the country who are worth a damn. They have well above-average intelligence, have worked hard and have been lucky enough that their work has paid off in oodles of money (which they don’t enjoy or even care about because they are too busy working). But they can’t bear the thought of paying taxes to support the services they receive and depend upon.The second (false) premise is that every government employee is a lazy no-good who has nothing on his mind but pillaging the bank accounts of the lucky dozen. But beyond that, the government is inherently evil, to the point of passing laws that inflict major economic damage and suffering on virtually everyone in the country with the exception of the privileged government leaders. This evil government is all-powerful and has total control over every newspaper, television and radio station. Fat chance. Obviously the author’s image of government derives from her formative years in the USSR. She has no concept that other governments have not tolerated the oppression that she found there.The third (false) premise is that the rest of the people of the U.S. are mostly a bunch of lazy morons who blindly accept the statements of the evil government and their patsy press. Further, they have no ability or process to provoke change. They wander around like a bunch of sheep being led to the slaughter. If only they were weren’t so stupid and lazy they would all be as rich as the “lucky dozen elite”. Since they didn’t have the ability (or intensity or luck) to become one of the elite, they all think that the elite should support them so they don’t have to work. The country has a middle class composed of about 24 people who are the trusted, loyal assistants of the elite. They are good enough to do everything their masters ask, but not good enough to join their masters in “Atlantis”. When the elite disappear (on strike), their trusted assistants are left behind to bear the misfortune of the rest of the poor slobs.This is all set on a stage of poor science fiction, which includes such things as a magic “motor” generating vast amounts of energy out of nothing. The author doesn’t seem to know the difference between a motor and a generator and uses the terms interchangeably. Then there is a magic “ray” that makes large areas of land invisible, powered, of course, by the magic “motor”. These magic things were, of course, invented by the intelligent elite who use them to help wreak havoc and despair on the rest of the 200 million people of the country in order to punish the evil government.Then there’s the (obligatory) sex. Dagny Taggart, the heroine and only intelligent woman in the universe, has sex with three of the elite. She dumps the only real relationship (with Rearden) in favor of the demi-god John Galt (who she barely knows) along the lines of a teenage girl throwing herself at one of the Beatles. Her favorite encounters are sado-masochistic.In the end, after they have succeeded in destroying the economy of the world and most everyone’s life, the elite magnanimously plan to sashay back into the real world and rebuild the hundred years of technology that they just destroyed. Isn’t that a brilliant idea? They think the only path to change is to take their football and go home. You have to wonder how brilliant these people really are.The author spends great quantities of print describing and re-describing thoughts and feelings of the characters ad nauseum. The redundancy is overwhelming.This poor attempt at science fiction with a supposed moral message demonstrates how a 350 page book can be padded to become a 1200 page behemoth. Elitists, libertarians and others paranoid about the government will undoubtedly enjoy this book. Paramilitary groups will love it. Most of the rest of us will ask ourselves “What the hell was she was thinking?”

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.

Jason

Ayn Rand makes my eyes hurt. She does this, not by the length of her six hundred thousand word diatribe, but rather by the frequency with which she causes me to roll them. Do you want to know what I’ve learned after spending nearly two months reading Ayn Rand’s crap? Here’s a brief rundown, Breakfast of Champions style.Socialists are scary. Socialists are frightening creatures who lurk in corners, waiting to pounce on you. They are unpredictable, they have curvature of the spine, and they often foam at the mouth.This is a socialist: Capitalists, on the other hand, are calm and rational beings who never lose their tempers. You can always trust a capitalist. And they are super easy to spot, too—just look for the hummingbirds who sew their clothes for them.This is a capitalist: Ayn Rand’s characters come in only two flavors, and which kind you get depends solely on the extent to which they embody her philosophical ideals. The capitalists (the “good guys”) are the moral heroes of the story, the ones who fight back against economic regulation. This regulation is seen as unwanted intervention, the government essentially trespassing on one’s property rights by means of unfair (unfair to the capitalists, I might point out) legislation. The “bad guys” are, of course, represented by the socialists—the ones passing the legislation, although Rand does a good job of throwing anyone else into this category who, while not active participants in passing these laws, may not be totally opposed to them, either.The problem with all of this is the fact that her characters are not at all believable. They are robots who mechanically spew forth her inane drivel or, if they are of the other flavor, behave in a manner so utterly ridiculous as to demonstrate the rationality of the capitalist over the vicious, gun-toting socialist who’s come to rob your house, rape your Ma, and shoot your Pa. Rand is so egregious in the maltreatment of her antithetic characters that it’s almost laughable. Beyond that, the narrative itself is monotonous and repetitive. This is not exactly a beach read.But even if I were to put all of that aside, I still wouldn’t be able to get over the fact that Rand’s argument here is to put an end to social collectivism of every form. That means: no social security, no unemployment insurance, no federally funded health care, no public roads, no public housing, no public education, no income taxes, no property taxes—does this not sound insane?! I get the whole “ooh” and “aah” aspect of libertarian freedoms, but I’m betting there wouldn’t be a lot of volunteers willing to relinquish their adequately funded public services on the basis of a free market economy. And ultimately, this is the fundamental principle on which Rand and I disagree. Although I do believe, and strongly, that the government should have no authority to interfere in the private lives of its citizens, do I think the government should also abstain from interfering in the regulation of the economy? Hellz, no! I want those corporate mother fuckers taxed and if that means Ima start foaming at the mouth, then so be it.Ultimately, this novel is more absurdist fiction than dystopian fiction. Rand takes an all-in-or-all-out approach to problem solving; there can be no moral ambiguity—either you’re with her or you’re not, and I’m not. But what does she care? Rand is an unabashed admirer of the wealthy industrialist and it is for him that she bats her eyes and licks her lips, not for me.

Jennifer

This book really makes you take a good hard look at yourself and your behavior, which is why I think a lot of people don't like this book. It's a lecture and most people don't like to get lectured. I loved it. It gave me a good swift kick in the ass. While I've never been a "looter," I have made several irrational decisions in my life, which this 1000+ page lecture has helped me to stop doing. It teaches you to think with your mind, rather than your heart. It doesn't make you an uncaring person. You still feel with your heart, but you think with your mind. Use your mind instead of expecting to get the rewards of others who do all the thinking. If everyone did this, the world would be perfect - that is the idea behind Ayn's story. Of course, this will never happen. Ayn knew that. She just wrote a story about her ideal world. A lot of authors do that. No need to get pissed off at her because of it.Yes, the book is wordy, but her words are genius in my opinion. I loved the long radio speech. Skip it if you are hating the book or better yet, stop reading it. Go out and smell the flowers instead. Is the story black and white? Definitely. Authors have different styles - people complain. If every author wrote in the same style, people would complain. I can't tell you how many co-workers I've met who complain about how the CEO is making so much money and they should get some of that money. Well, go to college, get a business degree and work you're way up the corporate ladder if you want the CEO's salary. Don't sit around and expect those kinds of rewards because you work in accounts payable. You know what it takes, so do it and shut up. If it wasn't for the person who created this company, you wouldn't even have a job. I'm an administrative assistant making less money than the people complaing about wanting more money. It just makes me sick. But the people in Ayn's story didn't work for money. They loved their jobs. And she wasn't saying you had to be a rich, corporate big shot to hold the world up. There were teachers and stay at home moms in her little world in the mountains.Ayn has extremely valuable points and if you are someone who is constantly looking for something to criticize in every book, then don't read it. If you can't handle looking at your imperfections, don't read it. If you have an open mind and are willing to learn something from every book and experience you have and grow as a person, then you will benefit from reading this book.

Ken

This book was the most overrated piece of crap of the twentieth century. It spars only with Dianetics and in its absolute absurdity.The characters are absolutely idealized 'heroes of capitalism' action figures. I wonder if Rand imagined some of these great barons of industry coming to her rescue when she immigrated away from the vile pit of communism that she left behind. You know, during the time where she forged her citizenship papers and depended on the generocity and kindness of a liberal, open society.If only she had us all her irritating, long winded, repetative tales of woe for the monied class of brilliantly handsome, powerful super geniuses.She bases all of this on her objectivist claptrap, claiming rationality as her own private high ground. But this is a general critique of her works. Specifically this book is completely overwritten and serves as flak cover for all the wrong people. The Jack Welch's and Phil Knights that imagine themselves to be the heroes of this book.This book has done more to create a generation of self interested greedy mindless zombies than any other book I can think of.

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.

Richard

(Updates appended to the bottom, including a pointer to the best review ever of this book.)OK, I’ve got to explain this four-star rating, because I don’t want anyone to think I’d actually recommend this book...It has been many years since I’ve read either of Ayn Rand’s two doorstop books, and I can’t really recall the details of either. I’m pretty sure this is the one with John Galt had the absurdly long speech near the end, and all the cool kids smoked special cigarettes, and was mostly about railroads. This is that one, right? The other one has the architect?Anyway, I think folks should need permission to read this. Frankly, I think teenage experimentation with pot is trivial in terms of risk to a kid’s soul compared to experimentation with Ayn Rand. Her books can much more easily destroy a life.Let me explain. Rand’s philosophy, as near as I can tell, is that great people shouldn’t be encumbered by the not-so-great. Taxes, regulations, all that stuff: just the shackles the large number of mediocre folks force onto their betters: pure parasitism. Morality comes down to letting the best do what they want, and letting the rest starve. These books are her ideas about how that should work out, and as such are suffused with incredibly juvenile wish-fulfillment. The powerful are tormented by the weak, but through force of will rise above it all.I might not be remembering all this quite right — after all, it has been a long time. The above description is what my initial impression has distilled down to; your mileage may vary.So where’s the danger, and why the relatively high rating? Well, many teenagers look out at their world and feel victimized by the completely lame and restrictive world that adults impose upon them. It is clear to them that they are as smart and able as these authorities, yet those adults are so... clueless. Obviously, adult life somehow has turned them into a lesser breed of humanity, with all the vitality sucked out. Add Ayn Rand to this and you suddenly have the ingredients for a self-perpetuating sense of victimhood and entitlement.I think it is possible that too much Ayn Rand is to blame for the Tea Party movement. The circular logic that these poor folks are victims of the evil American system, while simultaneously the vanguard and representative of the noble American system.Most people have overcome their teenage angst and fantasies by, say, twenty-eight or so. At that point, Rand will have lost her magic and her books should be freely available. But between twelve and twenty-seven, a committee of wise elders should decide whether that kid is mature enough not to get sucked into it.Sounds unlikely? Yeah, well so does Rand’s puerile philosophy, but somehow we have self-righteous imbeciles getting elected left and right. Well, not so much “left” — mostly “right”.But then, why the good rating? Because Rand provided a window into the strange logic of the extremist libertarian. We might have seen Hitler’s deeds and learned of Nietzsche’s diktats, but we never saw the fantasies that drove them. I think most folks that believe along Rand’s lines are either too dumb to put pen to paper, or too smart to let the world see what sociopaths they really are.So: four stars for the opportunity to watch the slow-motion train wreck of Rand’s political philosophy in action, warning us of where we’re heading.       •       •       •       •       •       •Update, August 2012— Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate has got folks chatting about Ryan's on-and-off obsession with Ayn Rand. Not having made a study of Rand's life, I was pleased to learn that while her extremely anti-collectivist views are still antithetical to civilization (which is definitionally a collectivist enterprise) she was actually quite the social liberal. Not sure that makes her any more pleasant — ideologues of any stripe are quite annoying, even those that suddenly appear more complex and harder to pigeon-hole — but nice to know. A few more details? Check out the NY Times op-ed piece, Atlas Spurned .Another Update, still August 2012— Everyone's talking about Ayn Rand, still. But one pointed to something especially juicy: the original 1957 review in the then-newish National Review by one of the world's most notorious flip-floppers, Whittaker Chambers himself! Scathing:Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal.Of course, although it wasn't what he ended up being famous for, he was a tremendously talented writer and editor. Click over and read it: Big Sister Is Watching You .­

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *