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Atlas Shrugged (Highbridge Classics)

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"Who is John Galt?" is the immortal question posed at the beginning of Ayn Rand's masterpiece. The answer is the astonishing story of a man who said he would stop the motor of the world—and did. As passionate as it is profound, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential novels of our time. In it, Rand dramatizes the main tenets of Objectivism, her philosophy of rational "Who is John Galt?" is the immortal question posed at the beginning of Ayn Rand's masterpiece. The answer is the astonishing story of a man who said he would stop the motor of the world—and did. As passionate as it is profound, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential novels of our time. In it, Rand dramatizes the main tenets of Objectivism, her philosophy of rational selfishness. She explores the ramifications of her radical thinking in a world that penalizes human intelligence and integrity. Part mystery, part thriller, part philosophical inquiry, part volatile love affair, Atlas Shrugged is the book that confirmed Ayn Rand as one of the most popular novelist and most respected thinkers of the 20th century.


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"Who is John Galt?" is the immortal question posed at the beginning of Ayn Rand's masterpiece. The answer is the astonishing story of a man who said he would stop the motor of the world—and did. As passionate as it is profound, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential novels of our time. In it, Rand dramatizes the main tenets of Objectivism, her philosophy of rational "Who is John Galt?" is the immortal question posed at the beginning of Ayn Rand's masterpiece. The answer is the astonishing story of a man who said he would stop the motor of the world—and did. As passionate as it is profound, Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential novels of our time. In it, Rand dramatizes the main tenets of Objectivism, her philosophy of rational selfishness. She explores the ramifications of her radical thinking in a world that penalizes human intelligence and integrity. Part mystery, part thriller, part philosophical inquiry, part volatile love affair, Atlas Shrugged is the book that confirmed Ayn Rand as one of the most popular novelist and most respected thinkers of the 20th century.

30 review for Atlas Shrugged (Highbridge Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    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 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.

  2. 5 out of 5

    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. 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Ayn Rand's characters are almost completely defined by the extent to which they embrace her beliefs. A good guy by definition is someone who agrees with her; a bad guy someone who dares to have a different point of view. For all the lip-service Rand pays to individualism, she brooks no dissent from her heroes; none of her so-called individualists ever expresses a point of view significantly different from hers. To illustrate the gulf between Rand's characters and human reality, consider this Ayn Rand's characters are almost completely defined by the extent to which they embrace her beliefs. A good guy by definition is someone who agrees with her; a bad guy someone who dares to have a different point of view. For all the lip-service Rand pays to individualism, she brooks no dissent from her heroes; none of her so-called individualists ever expresses a point of view significantly different from hers. To illustrate the gulf between Rand's characters and human reality, consider this behavior. When Dagny Taggart meets Hank Rearden, she dutifully becomes his property, for no other reason than that he's the most Randian male around. When John Galt arrives, ownership of the prize female transfers from Rearden to Galt, because Galt is the more Randian of the two. Does it ever occur to Hank to be resentful or jealous? Does Taggart experience loyalty or regret? Might Taggart love Rearden despite his lesser Randness? No, those are all things that human beings might feel. (In a related departure from reality, sex in Randland is more or less indistinguishable from rape. Foreplay? Romance? Capitalists don't have time for that commie nonsense.) The real focus of Atlas Shrugged is to extoll Rand's philosophy. (Not to debate it, since no one in Randland with any any intelligence or competence could have a different point of view.) About Rand's philosophy I'll just make two points (which I'm not going to bother providing evidence for at the moment). The first is that, like most social Darwinists, Rand fell short in her understanding of natural selection. Her philosophy was largely based on the false belief that nature invariably favors individual selfishness. In reality, evolution has made homo sapiens a social animal; cooperation and compassion are very human traits. More importantly, even if cold selfishness were man's nature in the wild, it would not necessarily follow that that would be the best way for us to behave in our semi-civilized modern condition. The second point is that, contrary to Rand's belief, pure laissez-faire capitalism never works; it invariably leads to exploitation of the poor and middle class and to environmental catastrophe. The best economic system that has ever been devised -- so far -- is a mixture of capitalism and socialism.

  4. 5 out of 5

    deanna

    The best way to understand Rand's message in this book is to simply close it, and beat yourself over the head with it as hard as possible. This is essentially what Rand does throughout it's ridiculous length. I see no reason that a book with a strong lesson can't also have decent character development, natural dialog, and a believable plot. Of course, I also think that you can establish a theme with subtlety, and trust that your reader will figure it out. Ayn Rand writes as if the elements of The best way to understand Rand's message in this book is to simply close it, and beat yourself over the head with it as hard as possible. This is essentially what Rand does throughout it's ridiculous length. I see no reason that a book with a strong lesson can't also have decent character development, natural dialog, and a believable plot. Of course, I also think that you can establish a theme with subtlety, and trust that your reader will figure it out. Ayn Rand writes as if the elements of fiction get in the way of her message, and that reader's skull's are extraordinarily thick and require a firm beating over the head to absorb the theme. Countless philosophers have said the same thing better (and quicker). I realize that I offend many atheists, agnostics and free thinkers by writing this, but as one myself, I have to say that a passionate love of Ayn Rand is not required for membership in that particular club. Save yourself a headache, and pick up the much shorter Anthem. It's just as overdone, but weighing it at ounces rather than pounds, it'll leave a smaller dent in your head. Oh, and if you're only reading it to answer the question on geeky bumper sticker "Who is John Galt?" He's the hero and a symbol of the capitalism in it's conflict over what Rand saw as the oppressive and ultimately destructive forces of large government type societies (you, know. . .socialism, fascism, etc.). It's usually stuck on the butt end of a car to express general disenchantment with big government, and a lack of heroes. Now you know, so go read something worthwhile, and if you insist on reading Ayn Rand, hit her non-fiction. Stripped of an attempt at storytelling, she doesn't do half bad.

  5. 5 out of 5

    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 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.

  6. 5 out of 5

    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 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Absolutely terrible. Imagine an analogous situation: A white supremacist writes a book in which all the white characters are great and all the black characters are awful. If you were to read that book and as a result buy into white supremacy; that would make you an utter utter fool. And yet, Rand writes a book where anyone who is a raging capitalist is a veritable super-hero and anyone who pauses for half a second to consider that maybe such a system is sub-optimal is a sniveling lunatic - and lo, Absolutely terrible. Imagine an analogous situation: A white supremacist writes a book in which all the white characters are great and all the black characters are awful. If you were to read that book and as a result buy into white supremacy; that would make you an utter utter fool. And yet, Rand writes a book where anyone who is a raging capitalist is a veritable super-hero and anyone who pauses for half a second to consider that maybe such a system is sub-optimal is a sniveling lunatic - and lo, the mindless prols think it's a masterpiece and a template for how the world should be run. The most annoying book I have ever read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Meredith Holley

    I was visiting an old friend for the past few days, and she showed me this cover of Atlas Shrugged I made for her when we lived in Ukraine: [image error] It was a necessary repair, but it pretty much proves I should be a cover designer. _____________________________________________ Original review: I think Francisco D’Aconia is absolutely a dream boat. This book’s like blah blah blah engineering, blah blah blah John Galt, blah blah blah no altruistic act, blah bla- HE-llo, Francisco D’Aconia, you I was visiting an old friend for the past few days, and she showed me this cover of Atlas Shrugged I made for her when we lived in Ukraine: [image error] It was a necessary repair, but it pretty much proves I should be a cover designer. _____________________________________________ Original review: I think Francisco D’Aconia is absolutely a dream boat. This book’s like blah blah blah engineering, blah blah blah John Galt, blah blah blah no altruistic act, blah bla- HE-llo, Francisco D’Aconia, you growl and a half. Also, there’s a pirate. So, what’s everyone complaining about? Okay, it’s not that I don’t get what everyone’s complaining about. I get that Rand is kind of loony tunes of the Glenn Beck variety, and some people (maybe?) use her to justify being assholes, but I just don’t like to throw the bathwater out with that baby. Warning: I think, to make my point, I have to refer to Dostoyevsky a lot, which I seem to always do because he really is some kind of touchstone to me. The point I’m trying to make with all this blabbering is that the debate over Atlas Shrugged brings out something that I might hate more than anything else (more than weddings and kitty litter even). It makes people say that ideas are dangerous. People on all sides of the spectrum do this about different stuff, and whatever the argument, I don’t like it. If an idea is wrong, say it’s wrong. But genocide doesn’t happen because people put forward too many ideas. It happens because people put forward too few ideas. Anyway, back to the book: First, story. The third part of this book is super weird. It’s definitely not the actual ending of the book, I’ve decided, but more of a choose-your-own-adventure suggestion. It’s kind of fun that way because any end that you, the reader, come up with will be better than the one Rand suggested. My favorite part of her ending is how John Galt gives the most boring speech possible, and it lasts for about a bazillion pages, and you have to skip it or die. Then, at the end, Rand’s like, “The entire world was listening, ears glued to the radios, because Galt’s speech was the most brilliant thing they had ever heard.” No. Nope. Nice try, liar. So, that’s super lame, I agree, and you should just skip the third part. But people don’t get as mad about the epilogue in Crime and Punishment. Why? That’s the same situation, where it kills all fun, and you have to ignore that it happened. Is it just because it’s shorter, and it’s called “Epilogue”? Maybe that’s enough. But, on the other hand, maybe people didn’t read all the way to the end of Crime and Punishment. Maybe, because it was written by a crazy Russian man, not a crazy Russian woman, people think they’ll sound deep if they say they like it. Second, writing. People complain about Rand’s writing, and I always think, “When was the last time you wrote a 1000 page book in a second language and pulled off a reasonably page-turning storyline?” The woman spoke Russian for crying out loud! It most certainly would have been a better choice for her to have written the books in Russian and had them translated, but, I mean, most native English speakers couldn’t be that entertaining. It’s at least A for effort. I’m not going to make excuses for the unpronounceable names she chooses for her characters, but I’ll just say Dostoyevsky again and leave it at that. I know it made a huge difference in my reading of this book that I was living in a Soviet bloc apartment in Lozovaya, Ukraine at the time and had forgotten a little bit how to speak English. I’m sure a lot of weird phrasing didn’t sound weird to me because it makes sense in Russian. But, also, I feel like I’ve read a lot of translations of Dostoyevsky and other Russians that feel really weird in English. You know, everyone’s always having some kind of epileptic fit or whatever with Mr. D. But, we allow for the weirdness because we picture the stuff happening in Russia, where the weird stuff typically goes down anyway. I’ll tell you right now, Atlas Shrugged takes place in Russia. No joke. She might tell you they’re flying over the Rocky Mountains, or whatever, but this book is a Russian if there ever was one. Just so it’s clear, I LOVE that about it. That’s no insult, only compliment. Third, philosophy. Maybe I told you this story already, so skip it if you already know it. When I lived in Ukraine, I had the same conversation with three or four people of the older generation who grew up in the Soviet Union. They would tell me, “Things were really wonderful in the Soviet Union, much better than they are now. We had free health care, free housing, and now we have nothing. I mean, every once in a while your neighbor would disappear, but it was completely worth it.” This was really disturbing to me, because it gave me this picture of the people around me – that they were the ones who ratted out the neighbors who wanted a different life. Sure, Rand’s vision is narrow and sometimes inhuman, but I think it is because she was really terrified of this equally narrow and, as far as I’m concerned, inhuman vision. I want a public health care option real bad, and my neighbor has some really annoying Chihuahuas, but if forced to choose between them, I’d probably still pick my neighbor. Admittedly, the problem with this argument is that it sets up a dichotomy where our only choices are the prosperity gospel and Soilent Green. From what I know of Rand, though, she had seen her neighbors and family thrown out of Russia or killed for being rich. She was fighting something extreme by being extreme. Unfortunately, in America, this rhetoric turns into the idea that having public services = killing your neighbor. To me, this comes from people taking her arguments too seriously on both sides. Dostoyevsky has ghosts and devils coming out of every corner, and people take his stories for what they’re worth. We don’t think that liking his books makes us mystics and hating them makes us inquisitors. Why is it different with Rand? Fourth, women. I’m not going to lie and tell you that there weren’t other badass female characters when Dagney Taggert came around. All I want to say about this is that the most valuable thing I got from this book was the idea that one person being unhappy doesn’t, and shouldn’t, make other people happy. I think, in this way, it was particularly important to me that the protagonist was a woman. I see a lot of women complain about their lives and families, but say it’s all worth it because they’ve been able to devote their lives to making their husbands or children happy. I’m paraphrasing, I guess. Anyway, that kind of hegemony really creeps me out. When I read this book, I was just realizing that I had joined Peace Corps with a similarly misguided motivation. I wanted to go to the needy and unfortunate countries of the world and sacrifice myself to save them. It might sound more nasty than it really was when I say it like that, but I think it is a really arrogant attitude to have. We might have hot running water in America (for which I am forever grateful), but if somewhere doesn’t have that, it’s probably not because of a problem a silly, 23-year-old English major is going to solve. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Peace Corps, and it was maybe the best experience of my life so far. But I love it for the things that I got out of it, and if someone else benefited from my being in Ukraine, it was dumb luck. I don’t know about other women, but I was raised to believe that the more selfless (read: unhappy) I was, the better off everyone else would be. I think it’s a pretty typical way that women talk themselves into staying in abusive situations – that their lives are worth less than the lives around them. This would be the Hank Rearden character in the novel. I love that Rand sets up characters who destroy this cycle of abuse. I love that her female protagonist lives completely outside of it. So, not to undercut my noble feminist apologetics, but really Francisco’s just hawt, and I think that’s the reason I like this book. There are lots of other reasons to read Rand, but most of those get into the argument about her ideas being dangerous. I just don’t think they are, or should be. I think ignorance is dangerous, but I think it should be pretty easy to fill in the gaping holes in Rand’s logic. Yes, she conveniently ignores the very old, very young, and disabled to make a specific and extreme point. I don’t think her point is entirely without merit, though (in the sense that our lives are valuable, not in the sense of “kill the weak!”). I also think that if we give a “danger” label to every book that conveniently ignores significant portions of the population to make a point, we wouldn’t be left with much. Anyway, read, discuss, agree, disagree. I’ll be making up some “Team John,” “Team Hank,” “Team Francisco” t-shirts later. I hear in the sequel there are werewolves.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    UPDATE 8/25! This blog debunks some of the Aynholes' major misunderstandings about the book. Pretentious poseur writes pseudophilosophical apologia for being a sociopath. Distasteful in the extreme.

  11. 4 out of 5

    s.penkevich

    There is this really great moment about halfway through where the Ents collectively decide to burn the military industrial complex to the ground and restore it back to nature. It's this great moment of socialism defeating the pathetic capital-- oh, wait, that's Lord of the Ring, a book about people getting things done because its the right thing to do to help everyone, this is Atlas Shrugged, a book about people throwing tantrums if they aren't making enough money off the labor of others. I There is this really great moment about halfway through where the Ents collectively decide to burn the military industrial complex to the ground and restore it back to nature. It's this great moment of socialism defeating the pathetic capital-- oh, wait, that's Lord of the Ring, a book about people getting things done because its the right thing to do to help everyone, this is Atlas Shrugged, a book about people throwing tantrums if they aren't making enough money off the labor of others. I really like trains, but goddammit does this novel give them a bad name. Also, everyone, pardon my french. And sorry Grandma. Recently someone told me this was their favorite novel. I believe they referred to it as 'the greatest book ever written.' I find a lot wrong with that statement. Because who cares about Ulysses, right? No, that won't do, I'm going to have to drink and rant for a moment. I refrained from commenting to the customer, because I'm sure it is typically for political reasons that people like this book and, whatever, some people swing left, some people swing right, some people suckle the golden calf of capitalism and some love thy socialist ways and who am I to judge. I'm not a politician and you should all thank me for that. I'd like to push politics aside but, frankly, I think it is solely for political reasons that this book managed to stay relevant and in print. However, I suppose you are all here to hear about the politics of this book and I would be boring you with talks of wooden character and language and overall juvenile writing abilities, so I'll save those for after. I don't want to argue politics, especially not while drinking, so lets take a moment to look at the plot (and oh what a plot it is) and see how the politics hold up within. Besides, there isn't much to analyze in this one as the writing barely goes beneath the surface. Once upon a time there were some factory owners. These factory owners loved to preach about the pride in working for their company, and hey, maybe conditions are piss-poor and maybe you are barely scraping by to feed your growing family, but at least you can take pride in working for a great company and that should satisfy you and give you meaning (some cool existentialist thought could have been added into the book for that, but Rand misunderstood Kant so I doubt she'd be able to add anything beyond surface detail and pop-philosophy). Then one day the great evil government (the government is such a caricature and it's almost a surprise she didn't have them all wearing black hooded cloaks. And really, who voted for those guys?) passed some outlandish laws that people couldn't have a monopoly and maybe we should pay our workers. Suddenly, having pride in what they did seemed terrible. Instead of taking pride in their company and working hard to sustain the nation they so loved, like they preached to their employees, they bitched about it a bunch and then stopped working. Nice guys, right? They set up a utopia (Ayn Rand of all people should know utopia is a word for 'fake') society where competing is so cool and they say stuff like 'man, I hope someone competes with me and nearly puts me out of business', which isn't all that different from what was going on in the society they bitched out on in the most comically shameful manner possible. Meanwhile it is made to seem like cheating on your wife is way cool and general chaos ensues. So it goes for awhile, but then, THEN, after a overlong speech that takes all the points any reader with half a mind already put together for themselves and regurgitates it out without the metaphors and into a boring speech that repeats itself many times about the points already mentioned in the novel and then makes sure you know the stuff already mentioned in the novel through a long speech, all hell breaks loose and the main characters bust into town like the goddamn A-Team. Guns blaze, Dagny murders a few dudes and the one character who was actually worth reading about blows up the super-weapon (because that guy was awesome. Screw the rest of the characters, I want to read more about that guy. He was 'about it', like people who are apparently 'about it' say while slugging their Mountain Dews and playing video games.) All integrity of the novel was lost with the hysterically overblown rescue scene. I mean, they even got out on 'choppers' at the end. It was the worst action movie I've ever seen, and I'm not even going to go into the scene where apparently it is okay to shoot your employees in the head for going on strike. And that, my friends, is Atlas Shrugged. People seem to really like the politics, which are 'if things aren't going your way say 'fuck my beliefs, I quit, and fuck america too.' And also, apparently, fuck anyone in the military because Dagny shoots a kid in the fucking face for following orders. Because if there is one thing Ayn Rand can't stand, it's taking pride in your work. Finally. What I really want to talk about is the book as a piece of literature, so don't get all steamed up about politics on me here, pal! Granted, there are a few pretty lines here, particularly the line about cigarettes and how all great thinkers should have that glowing ember at their fingertips while the lightbulb of thought is burning, but other than that Rand is a forgettable sci-fi novelist that has poorly aged with time. Not a line of dialogue rings true to actual speech, not a cough or a scoff can go without her graciously informing the reader that the scoff or cough shows their disapproval or discomfort and whatnot. Furthermore, she certainly can't let a metaphor slip out without explaining it; reading Ayn Rand feels like being a grown adult and sitting in a elementary reading class and having the teacher explain how books work. It's as if she has no faith in her reader as a literate, thinking human being. Worse, the characters are the sort that can only exist on the page and have such narrow-minded two-dimensional aspects that one can't possibly imagine them walking around in the real world. Of course the government is terrible in this novel, its such a caricature that nobody in their right mind would bother being submissive to it. Granted, this book is satire, but come on Rand, put some effort into your creativity. ' James, you ought to discover some day that words have an exact meaning.' This idea pops up constantly in Atlas Shrugged, that words have a specific and definite meaning, and the character always wields this like a weapon straight to the heart (James does suck as a person and character so I don't feel bad for him for his inability to easily retort. However, Rand seems fully unable to build three-dimensional characters so is it that James is garbage or Rand herself?). This idea is possibly my least favorite aspect of the book because it is comically incorrect. Though maybe my English degree is as useless as it is as finding me a job (totally useless), but from what I've gathered reading books (and Derrida) is that language is anything but exact. Language is pliable, words are an attempt at harnessing the abstract into sound, caging thought into something more tangible. If words have an exact meaning then all the poets have been doing is creating gibberish. And how can Rand go on writing her weak metaphors if she actually believes that statement. Briefly, Ayn Rand separates people into two catagories: those that make, and the 'looters'. I've slept on a lot of couches, but also made a lot of breakfast sandwiches. What then am I? Somehow, people still rave about this book. I will say, however, that the chapter where they kill everyone by putting a steam engine through a tunnel was incredibly well done. She could have cut the rest of the novel and simply published that chapter because all the major points are present and for a brief moment the book felt worth reading. I also loved the bits about the pirate and the scene where the government takes over the mines to find them desolated. There are some great 'fight the man' moments but they are buried under a god-awful plot that puts the plot and politics before the writing and told through characters that are so two-dimensional that I can't even believe the scenes that have them walking down a street. There's some politics here I guess some people could get down with, and I do understand that this is a response to the horrors of Communist Russia, but she did this so much better in Anthem (though even in that she contradicts herself often. Right after a large discussion on freedom and not letting others think for you, the man names the woman character. He just tells her, this is now your name. Which seems suspiciously not like the freedom the man was fighting for) and others have tackled the issue in a much more agreeable and artistic manner. All sarcasm and jokes aside, I simply do not think this book is well written. I could honestly not care less about the political aspects, its the literary aspects that cause the low rating. I came, I read, I shrugged. 1/5 Disclaimer: I read this while working in a factory that had no heat or AC and paid minimum wage as the salary cap. However, the office had AC, heat and tons of paid vacation. Perhaps I'm just bitter about the time I was sent home for listening to a DFW interview on Bookworm because it was 'spreading liberal propaganda in the workplace.' Disclaimer #2: 1 star is probably too harsh, but I really wanted to try writing an angry rant review for once. Sorry, I'm most likely the asshole in this situation. There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs. - John Rogers

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    COMING….NEXT…. SUMMER….EXCLUSIVELY TO GOODREADS…… A review so ambitious, so controversial, so staggeringly over-hyped unique that it has to be seen in order to be read. A review many minutes in the writing (and several hours in the photo finding). A review so important that one Dr. Hyperbole had this to say upon seeing it.... This is the review most people didn’t even know they wanted to read. A review of one of the most talked about and polarizing classics of the 20th century…ATLAS SHRUGGED   COMING….NEXT…. SUMMER….EXCLUSIVELY TO GOODREADS……   A review so ambitious, so controversial, so staggeringly over-hyped unique that it has to be seen in order to be read. A review many minutes in the writing (and several hours in the photo finding). A review so important that one Dr. Hyperbole had this to say upon seeing it.... This is the review most people didn’t even know they wanted to read. A review of one of the most talked about and polarizing classics of the 20th century…ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand. This review will pull no punches as it discusses all aspects of the novel and includes opinions that run the gamut from 5 stars of love to seething cauldron's of 1 star rage...and everything in between. Here is just a sampling of some of the views you can expect to find in the review experts are already calling “longer and more repetitive than the novel itself”:   5 STARS: “This is a book that proudly celebrates both the individual and the potential for greatness inside all of us. It is a book of new and radical ideas being passionately expressed by someone who believes deeply in them. Whether you agree or disagree whole-heartedly or belong somewhere in the middle, it's right and proper to respect the passion and conviction that Ms. Rand feels for her subject.” ---Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, FMR Governor, Imperial Outlands Region in a Galaxy Far, Far Away “Regardless of how you feel personally about the ideas expressed in this book, it seems clear and not subject to serious debate that the philosophy of objectivism created by Rand added an entirely new voice to the landscape of philosophical, economic and political debate. Call it controversial, call it inflammatory, even call it wrong, but it is impossible to call it irrelevant. There is little question that as a book of ideas, Atlas Shrugged is a monumental book and deserves its place as one of the most important books of the 20th Century...Ain't I right there Normie.” ---Cliff Calvin, Postman, Boston, MA 1 STAR: At the far other end of the spectrum are those that thought Atlas Shrugged was 1200 pages of mind-numbing, bowel churning, elitist tripe. Among these detractors was one P. Griffin from Quohog, RI, who had this to say: Unfortunately, when pressed for specifics or examples to support his opinion, Mr Griffin screamed and ran away to hide Also not a fan was one Jules Winnfield, an independent contractor from, according to him, “The Valley of Death” who had real problems with Rand’s prose which he found clunky and very unpolished. He summed up his opinion about Rand's writing ability as follows:   4 STARS: Back on the positive side, you will hear from more people who found Rand’s magnus opus to be powerful and something definitely worth reading...... “Ayn Rand was born in Russia and grew up witnessing first hand the failings of collectivism as well as many of its more brutal aspects enforced in the former U.S.S.R. Therefore, her passionate embrace of the “free market” and capitalism and the idea of rewarding the individual for excellence is certainly understandable in light of her origins. It is also true that Rand’s depiction of a dystopian future in which individual achievement and have been replaced by collectivism and distribution according to need has more than just passing relevance today. Whether or not you believe her vision is skewed or biased, there is still much that her book can add to the debate on the proper role of government in the life of the individual.” ---Gabe Kotter, School teacher, James Buchanan High School, Brooklyn, NY “In my opinion, the MOST IMPORTANT lesson that can be taken from Atlas Shrugged is the concept that Rich, successful people are not evil simply because they are wealthy and are certainly not the enemy of the poor or the disadvantaged. There are GOOD and BAD in every economic layer in society and this bias just seems extremely destructive.***I know that wealthy people are an easy target for humor but when people actually believe that being wealthy makes someone “less moral” or “less good” it starts to sound eerily similar to when people used to say about other groups “There just not like us, there different.” Sorry, I can’t buy into that. People are people and everyone is entitled to being judged for who they are.” ---Mr. Hankey (aka The Christmas Poo) “Every person that ever gave me a job, an opportunity or the means to feed myself and provide for my family was WEALTHY by most peoples standards. Walk around your house and pick up the products that you use every day and that make your life easier and ask yourself how many of them were made by people who made a lot of money off them (my guess is most of them). The world we be a lot worse off without the inventors, the builders and the risk takers and they deserve our thanks and not our animosity....Nanu Nanu” ---Mork, Ambassador from the Planet of Ork    2 STARS:   Of course, the negative reviews don't stop with the 1 star commentators. There were additional negative reactions raised about Atlas Shrugged and this review promises to tackle them in depth. One very controversial subject deals with attacks on Ayn Rands views on sexuality which are certainly on display in the novel. Comments about the sexual relationships described in the story being “odd” or “freaky” are not uncommon and some go so far as to accuse Rand of having a “rape fantasy fetish.” A. Powers from Great Britain, who was unable to divulge his exact occupation actually attacked Rand personally with this very blunt reaction to Atlas Shrugged’s sexual content. A second, less controversial view but one that is probably far more relevant to a true analysis of this work is Rand’s consistent use of blatant and obvious “straw men” to support her argument. Many people have argued that for someone so passionate about her beliefs who is absolutely convinced of the rightness of her convictions, she sure felt the need to stock the book with a lot of easily dispatched "straw man” characters. As I Amin from Uganda put it: “This was probably my biggest problem with the book. If [Rand] is so sure that her arguments are valid and correct, then why doesn’t she have the Rand characters (i.e., those espousing her opinions) debate against the best arguments that the ‘other side’ has to offer. Instead she has peopled her expository novel with ‘over the top’ caricatures of the socialist system so that they can easily tear them down. This does nothing but preach to the converted and has all the persuasive power of a political attack ad.” Or, put another way, “I think there is a compelling debate in there somewhere. Unfortunately, Rand, Dum Dum that she is, decided to load the other side’s quiver with nothing but wet noodles and so comes off looking scared of a true debate.” --Gazoo, Intergalactic Talking Head   Another cause of very negative reactions stems from the incredible amount of repetition and redundancy used by Rand in the stating of her opinions. State your opinion once and that is laudable. If it is overly complex, maybe you repeat it a second, even a third time. However, in a 1200 page novel when you have to listen to the EXACT SAME POINT made 10, 20 or even 30 times, you can cause your audience to become very irate and disenchanted. One disgruntled reader stopped reading the novel halfway through and said simply........ 3 STARS Finally, you will here from those who found both positive and negative qualities in Rand’s novel. Many found the prose less than noteworthy but were very taken by the plot. Others liked the characters but had issues with the world-building (or lack thereof) in Rand’s tale. Still others liked the passion of Rand's convictions but found her message lost in a myriad of meandering speeches. . . . All of these issues and much more will be tackled in this comprehensive, detailed review of Rand’s controversial classic. While not to be released until mid-summer 2012, early buzz is already calling this review “A review of Atlas Shrugged.” We only hope we can live up to those expectations. Until then.........

  13. 4 out of 5

    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 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.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Stephen

    When my mother gave me this book and said, "I think you will like this; I read it over a vacation in a week when I was your age," I took one look at the massive text and couldn't believe it. She also said that I reminded her of the characters....a statement to this day I take pride in.... And that is exactly what I learned from this book: that pride is most beautiful thing, and to live on this earth means that one must understand its reality, and learn to use one's mind to make it what one wants When my mother gave me this book and said, "I think you will like this; I read it over a vacation in a week when I was your age," I took one look at the massive text and couldn't believe it. She also said that I reminded her of the characters....a statement to this day I take pride in.... And that is exactly what I learned from this book: that pride is most beautiful thing, and to live on this earth means that one must understand its reality, and learn to use one's mind to make it what one wants it to be. It is about truly loving life and all that it means to 'live' it. It is the reason why I understand myself as a man who belongs on earth.... It is very long (almost 1200 pages), so get ready for an epic. I won't try to say it is great literature, though if the style fits the person who is reading it, it will certainly be an amazing read. It can be long-winded and wordy at times, but what philospher isn't? My advice: stick with it through the first half of the first section: it takes it bit to get going in the book, but once it starts, it is worth it.... To the proposition that we all have inside of us the inherent values to be heros: we just need to learn the virtues that will bring those values out of us... C.S. Leary

  15. 4 out of 5

    David

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “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 “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?”

  16. 4 out of 5

    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 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!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ian "Marvin" Graye

    "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, "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. Spoiler If 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 Deduction Peopled 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 Macbeth You won't find in me The milk of human kindness, Just dire cruelty. Only Her Self to Blame Rand's philosophy Fucked a whole generation With its selfishness. Turn Me On and Turn Me Off Your fans are turned on By Sex Objectivism But it turns me off.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Monica MizMiz

    The Concept: Rand follows the lives of society's movers and shakers (first-handers, in her words, and business men, scientists, inventors, and artists in her novel) as they resist the societal pull to become second-handers and to remain true to themselves and their live's work. Meanwhile, something is happening that is shaking the very foundation of society. After reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand in 2005-2006, my life has been changed for the better. Applying Rand's ideas The Concept: Rand follows the lives of society's movers and shakers (first-handers, in her words, and business men, scientists, inventors, and artists in her novel) as they resist the societal pull to become second-handers and to remain true to themselves and their live's work. Meanwhile, something is happening that is shaking the very foundation of society. After reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand in 2005-2006, my life has been changed for the better. Applying Rand's ideas to my own life has made my mind clearer and has helped me to acchieve goals I thought were unreachable. Rand's ideas have been a big part of "growing up" and getting through the "quarter life crisis" for me. While I read Rand's books for her ideas and to better understand the application of her philosophy, they can also be read on many different levels. Through reading them, not only did I read an amazing story, carefully crafted and well rendered, but I also learned so much. However, one does not have to delve deep into Rand's philosophical background to enjoy The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged -- they are also great stories about human endurance, individualism, freedom, relationships, and integrity. If you are reading this book to gain an understanding of Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, then I would recommend reading this book AFTER reading Ayn Rand's other famous fiction, The Fountainhead. The Fountainhead is a more straight forward place to start that study. I highly recommend this book, and I have a copy to loan if you're interested. When you're reading, we can go out for coffee to talk about the book -- there is much to think about in this one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    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, 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.

  20. 4 out of 5

    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: • 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...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Whitaker

    A Modest Proposal I'd give this book 10 stars, but it only gets five, because really, Ayn didn't have the courage of her convictions. She wussed out at the end and gave in to EVIL Liberal Blackmail. The problem with Atlas Shrugged is that it doesn't go far enough. And so, to correct that, here's an addendum, a modest proposal to supplement Ayn's book. We're taxing the wrong people. Why are we taxing rich people more than poor people? Rich people don't need government services. If they want a A Modest Proposal I'd give this book 10 stars, but it only gets five, because really, Ayn didn't have the courage of her convictions. She wussed out at the end and gave in to EVIL Liberal Blackmail. The problem with Atlas Shrugged is that it doesn't go far enough. And so, to correct that, here's an addendum, a modest proposal to supplement Ayn's book. We're taxing the wrong people. Why are we taxing rich people more than poor people? Rich people don't need government services. If they want a highway, they'll build it themselves. If they need electricity, they'll build a god damn dam. It's poor people that need the government to build these things for them. So, the tax structure should work this way: -- Everyone in the bottom half of income earners pays 50% tax. -- Those in the top sixth decile pay 40%. -- Those in the top seventh decile pay 30%. -- Those in the top eighth decile pay 20%. -- Those in the top ninth decile pay 10%. -- And those in the top tenth decile pay nothing. This will encourage those lazy bums at the bottom to slave for rich people. After all, it's by slaving away and working hard for them that they can eventually become rich too. It's coddling them otherwise. Why this tax structure? It's logical isn't it? It's RICH PEOPLE that create jobs. Ergo, the more money they have, the more jobs they will create. They are the Job Creators! We DEPEND on them for the jobs. Instead of taxing them we should be eternally thankful to them for even Existing. But even this, EVEN THIS, fails to FULLY recognise how brilliant and innovative and hard working Rich People are. Without them, we'd all be living in mud huts and eating each other to stay alive. Clearly, it's NOT enough to NOT tax them. No, if they are in the top 5% of income earners, we should PAY THEM to stay in our country. Why, just their very presence in a country will mean that its inhabitants will get rich. It's that Well-Documented, Scientifically Proven Trickle-Down Effect. How much should we pay? Obviously, the answer is to let the Market decide: governments should bid against each other in an open auction. Highest bidder wins. And clearly this has to be done as often as the Rich People want to change their country of residence. After all, you can't expect them to just stay in one country all their life. That would be a Fetter on Market Forces! (--booooooo!--) Countries should COMPETE to attract rich people to their shores. Cypress giving them grief? Why the UK will PAY them GBP1 million to come over. Hell, don't go to the UK! We'll pay GBP1 trillion AND sweeten it with a line of grateful poor people lying down at the landing strip for them to walk over so that they don't soil their gold Gucci shoes on our unworthy soil. And for those at the top 1%? Well, nothing's too good for them. No point offering them money since they make more than what any country can offer anyway. No, for them, we'll offer money AND a line of poor people AND control of the government. See a law they don't like? Governments will change it for them. See laws that need to be put in place? Governments had damn well vote them in if they know what's good for them. Oh, and that nonsense about power corrupting doesn't apply to Rich Job Creators. THEY are subject to the Discipline of the Market. That Invisible Hand will come down and smack them upside down if they try anything funny. We don't need governments. Governments are for those rotten horrible poor people. The Invisible Hand keeps Rich Job Creators honest, hardworking, and competitive. They wouldn't dream of selling fraudulent financial instruments, or food that poisons you, or buildings that collapse, or lie about the value of their companies. Nobody would buy their products if they did that you see. It's only when Big Brother Governments intervene that such things happen. It's only when Big Brother Governments that think they know better and force them to obey laws (--booooooo!--) that faulty, dangerous bridges or aircraft get built, or carcinogens get dumped into rivers. All hail Rich People! Without Them, life would be just shit. Civilisation Would Not Exist! Amen! Update (20 Jan 2014) You think this review is just kidding around? Fact is, we already live in an Atlas Shrugged world: In a world of 7 billion and more, 85 people (0.000001% of the world's population) own more than 50% of the rest. Think about it, if YOU became that rich and that powerful, once you got there, why WOULDN'T you do everything you could to make sure the rest would stay there and not pose a threat to your wealth? Why WOULD you let the system that allowed you to get to the top allow someone else to dethrone you? Ayn Rand would be SO proud.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    After working on this book for several months, I finally finished it and loved it. I've learned that I rate a book highly when it forces me to think and broadens my perspective. Rand definitely accomplishes this in Atlas Shrugged and earns five stars. I am amazed at the depth of her philosophy, her intelligence, and her ability to write and communicate her ideas through strong, entertaining fictional characters. In Atlas Shrugged, she shares her philosophy which she calls Objectivism, which in a After working on this book for several months, I finally finished it and loved it. I've learned that I rate a book highly when it forces me to think and broadens my perspective. Rand definitely accomplishes this in Atlas Shrugged and earns five stars. I am amazed at the depth of her philosophy, her intelligence, and her ability to write and communicate her ideas through strong, entertaining fictional characters. In Atlas Shrugged, she shares her philosophy which she calls Objectivism, which in a word is a system of justice. Before reading this book, I always viewed justice as cold, distant, and inferior to mercy, but Rand helps me view the essentiality and virtues of justice. In a few other words, Rand is an advocate of reason, logic, accountability, production, capitalism, agency, human ability, and she believes that working for one's happiness is essential and each person's personal responsilibity. She is against pity, mediocrity, taxation, seizing wealth and production from those who produce to redistribute to those who are unwilling to work hard. In the story, she illustrates what would happen to the world if incentive to produce is removed from the intelligent and able - the motor of the world would stop. I love how Rand's character Dagny Taggart is such an example of intelligence and ability. She will move heaven and earth to accomplish her purposes and she approaches life with such passion. She runs the leading transcontinental railroad in the country, and Rand created this character in the 1950's! Despite my love of the book, there were a few drawbacks for me. Rand believes that one's professional work, what he is able to produce, is THE purpose of life, definitely a "live to work" approach. Also, I didn't find any thread of mercy in her philosophy, which makes me wonder her view on caring for those who cannot care for themselves. Rand also has a sexual theme that emerges several times in the book which I didn't know I was in for when I began the book. Be forewarned that it's there, and she has a strong theory on sexuality that you'll be exposed to in reading the book. Reading Atlas Shrugged reminded and empowered me to work hard for what I want in life, to stop making excuses, and to hold myself accountable and responsible for what I do or don't acoomplish.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Utter Trex: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand Well, I couldn't resist (re-reading this after I read so many enlightened reviews on GRs and elsewhere). The idea that people will work if they receive some benefit is true. The expectation that others should do the same is perfectly normal. I don't expect to be enslaved and neither do I expect others to be enslaved to me. Also, government from the beginning of time, had to ensure that If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Utter Trex: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand Well, I couldn't resist (re-reading this after I read so many enlightened reviews on GRs and elsewhere). The idea that people will work if they receive some benefit is true. The expectation that others should do the same is perfectly normal. I don't expect to be enslaved and neither do I expect others to be enslaved to me. Also, government from the beginning of time, had to ensure that collectively certain work was done for the good of the collective. That 'service' was often a respected duty in a small community - whether it be defending the territory or being responsible in the use of shared resources.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    Who is John Galt? Actually, I think he may be alive and well, and residing in the US Senate this very minute. I hate to accuse anyone directly, but I think he may even be from my own state. Metaphorically speaking of course, because he has many imitators around the world. When I read a book I usually try to seperate the writers personal views and opinions from the novel and read it for what it is, a work of fiction. That's hard to do with Ayn Rand, especially this book, because she hammers you Who is John Galt? Actually, I think he may be alive and well, and residing in the US Senate this very minute. I hate to accuse anyone directly, but I think he may even be from my own state. Metaphorically speaking of course, because he has many imitators around the world. When I read a book I usually try to seperate the writers personal views and opinions from the novel and read it for what it is, a work of fiction. That's hard to do with Ayn Rand, especially this book, because she hammers you with them in every paragraph. ("Socialists are weak and evil, capitalists are strong and good. The 99 percenters are trying to feed off the genius and success of the 1 percenters"). I didn't like the agenda put forth in this book, but I gave it 4 stars because when it comes to putting pen to paper, Ayn Rand could write. She just didn't write what I want to hear. I also gave it 4 stars because it's important for us to pay attention. This book has had, and still does have, a huge influence on millions of people. When Modern Library selected their 100 best novels of the 20th century Atlas Shrugged wasn't on the list, but they also allowed readers to vote and select their favorite novel. Atlas Shrugged was number one. That might have given us a little hint why someone like Trump could be elected president. As I did in my review of The Fountainhead, I will quote Pogo; "I have seen the enemy, and he is us".

  25. 4 out of 5

    Megha

    Rant from ages past uff..so tiring!! After having plodded through more than 700 pages I couldn't go on reading it any more. Ayn Rand sees everything in black and white. The message of the book seems to be that any character who doesn't completely agree with her point of view doesn't deserve to be alive. Except a handful of Ayn Rand-ish characters, no one is worth a damn. And all she does is preach her extremist philosophy throughout the book. Once a character starts talking he would ramble on for Rant from ages past uff..so tiring!! After having plodded through more than 700 pages I couldn't go on reading it any more. Ayn Rand sees everything in black and white. The message of the book seems to be that any character who doesn't completely agree with her point of view doesn't deserve to be alive. Except a handful of Ayn Rand-ish characters, no one is worth a damn. And all she does is preach her extremist philosophy throughout the book. Once a character starts talking he would ramble on for pages and pages making the same point. Can't she spew out her fundae in a subtle manner or does she believe that we readers being normal people(i.e; different from her idea of a perfect individual) are too dumb to understand her message in any other way. Guest column by The Sexual Intellectual, Quink Magazine Ayn Rand, that "objectivist" proponent of selfishness... In the idiotic Ayn Rand's pugnacious and polemical novel Atlas Shrugged, a book "nearly perfect in its immorality", according to Gore Vidal, the verb to give is forbidden. Her work is about self-centeredness, plain and simple, a song to the snatch, the shove, and the grab. In her earlier novel The Fountainhead, her character Dominique Francon would much prefer passively to sit by and watch every last one of architect Howard Roark's buildings explode rather than see their balconies hung with diapers. The "heroic WASP ideal" in Rand's skewed view excluded virtually everything female, in fact... He says some more pleasant things about Ayn Rand in context of his essay, but let's just stick to her books here.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    Atlas Shrugged is a flawed epic, strident with a swaggering ambition, yet almost fable-like in its overly simplistic social and economic criticisms. This is more of a philosophical, social commentary than a literary monument. The characterization is where it fails; Rand draws stick figures for antagonists: caricatures, strawmen to act as foil to her politico-economic-social vehicle. This is the book that made everyone mad in the late fifties: progressive liberals were spurned due to its Atlas Shrugged is a flawed epic, strident with a swaggering ambition, yet almost fable-like in its overly simplistic social and economic criticisms. This is more of a philosophical, social commentary than a literary monument. The characterization is where it fails; Rand draws stick figures for antagonists: caricatures, strawmen to act as foil to her politico-economic-social vehicle. This is the book that made everyone mad in the late fifties: progressive liberals were spurned due to its vitriolic anti-government stance and conservatives stayed away in droves due to Rand’s over the top atheism. As provocative and controversial as it is, I wondered at the society that had produced Rand and marveled at the influence she had on our culture since its publication. I have read many controversial books, and have wondered how many critics have actually read the work; Atlas Shrugged makes me wonder how many fans have actually read it. Rand would no doubt be critical of big business today with its corporate dollar laden cushions and aristocratically removed “leadership”. Rand’s libertarianism shares with Sinclair’s socialism in that it looks good in print. The length? Yep, it’s a 1300 plus page monster. Rand forces her readers to be submerged, to live in the dystopian wasteland for two or three months to fully comprehend her vision. Finally I am left with a feeling, an assurance, that I do not like Ms. Rand and don't care for her arrogance and her casual dismissal of much of what is good in society.

  27. 4 out of 5

    aPriL does feral sometimes

    I heard about Ayn Rand for years. Now I've finally read The Famous Book. 'Atlas Shrugged' is SO ridiculous on EVERY level. It's a poorly written shrill operatic infomercial written by an evangelical fool suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome with an idea she hopes will bring on the cleansing apocalypse. Why does America elevate these well-dressed haters of humanity? Can't people see the nihilism, the suicidal self-hatred underlying her ideas? I can't believe she has any fans. Those who adore this I heard about Ayn Rand for years. Now I've finally read The Famous Book. 'Atlas Shrugged' is SO ridiculous on EVERY level. It's a poorly written shrill operatic infomercial written by an evangelical fool suffering from Jerusalem Syndrome with an idea she hopes will bring on the cleansing apocalypse. Why does America elevate these well-dressed haters of humanity? Can't people see the nihilism, the suicidal self-hatred underlying her ideas? I can't believe she has any fans. Those who adore this book seem mesmerized by her simplistic and ignorant ideas of economics, politics and history. But the tone-deaf psychology, scapegoating and witch-burning, and the engineer(ed) sex by blueprint-chart efficiency are particularly repellent and disgusting. The fact people believe anything really effective or constructive can be derived from the utterly falsified representations for class rage in this book is a fantasy. That the book is felt by many to be articulating: 1. a righteous path to what is essentially a philosophical justification for eugenics-like cures for the ills of Humanity; or 2. that the causes of the ills of Humanity is only from an underlying laziness/gullibility of certain social classes of people combined with a jealous greed for wealth without earning it; and 3. a complete silence on the actual causes of social class dissatisfaction/distress - a lack of access to resources which would level the playing field, a lopsided distribution of wealth and labor, and social/religious prejudices, is appalling. Rand demonizes the less gifted and the underclasses simply because they want the benefits of extreme wealth the same as the wealthy enjoy, too. She does not acknowledge any of the actual resource inequalities between classes which dampen/make impossible ambition for people other than the fictional scenarios she dramatizes. Rand would clearly despise babies on philosophical grounds because they are weak and do not take care of themselves, and keeping pets would be indefensible. I'm so depressed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Based on everything I've heard about Rand, in conversation and online, from her supporters and her detractors, or in interviews with the author or articles by her, I feel there is no reason to believe that this book or any of her others contain anything that is worth reading, not even as 'cautionary example'. Nothing about it sounds the least bit appealing or reasoned. Watching interviews of Rand, herself, I wonder if she wasn't somewhere on the autism spectrum--her entire Objectivist philosophy Based on everything I've heard about Rand, in conversation and online, from her supporters and her detractors, or in interviews with the author or articles by her, I feel there is no reason to believe that this book or any of her others contain anything that is worth reading, not even as 'cautionary example'. Nothing about it sounds the least bit appealing or reasoned. Watching interviews of Rand, herself, I wonder if she wasn't somewhere on the autism spectrum--her entire Objectivist philosophy seems like the sort of approach autistic people have to develop to deal with a world full of emotions, sympathies, and signals they cannot recognize or comprehend. The fact that this philosophy has since been picked up by Silicon Valley culture, itself notorious for high levels of autism, seems logically to follow. Likewise, it would have an appeal for certain types of sociopaths, who also do not feel strong sympathy or emotional connection. Objectivism can thus be seen as a kind of justification for the lives they choose to leave: isolating themselves, putting work and financial achievement above social life, using others to get ahead, then blaming them for being emotionally open, and hence susceptible to manipulation. It's unfortunate that Rand's method focuses on brutalizing, blaming, and denying people who are unlike her, instead of working with them and trying to understand them--recognizing and cherishing those differences, the fact that a society requires many different types of people to run effectively. But then, looking at her life, and her inner circle--the isolation, disappointment, depression, and awkward love affairs as depicted in something like Adam Curtis' Documentary All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace , one sees a Rand who is wounded, alienated, and fragile--a far cry from the philosophy of power and dominance she wrapped around herself like armor--so of course she would lash out at the world and blame it. There is also a curious parallel between her representation of the world and the moral certitude and will to power of modern fantasy novels. She seems to engage in the same sort of 'worldbuilding', where characters and events are structured to uplift a certain philosophy of life, where the story is abandoned for long passages to explain in minute detail the finer points of the constructed world. As such, it's not surprising that she attracts a similar fanbase with her doorstop novels: a group of privileged middle class white folks who feel disaffected and are looking for a mythology structured around them and their struggles, which justifies their biases, privilege, and preferred way of life. So, as nothing about any of her works has ever sounded appealing or interesting to me, and since my goal here is to read as many good books as possible and to do my best to avoid bad ones, it seems best to give Rand a wide berth.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jodi Lu

    no, REALLY?!?! people LOVE this...but i just... i realize that, in disliking cucumbers, i am siding with a very scant and unpopular team, but i have my reasons: i chewed on them while i was teething, so it's an association thing. i realize they have merit and i love all other veggies, it's just they're not for me. but it seems more people like this book than even cucumbers, which we know is saying a lot. and this book's got NOTHING going for it. except it's heavy. i mean, is that it? b/c there no, REALLY?!?! people LOVE this...but i just... i realize that, in disliking cucumbers, i am siding with a very scant and unpopular team, but i have my reasons: i chewed on them while i was teething, so it's an association thing. i realize they have merit and i love all other veggies, it's just they're not for me. but it seems more people like this book than even cucumbers, which we know is saying a lot. and this book's got NOTHING going for it. except it's heavy. i mean, is that it? b/c there are other long great books; you have a long trip and need entertainment and a paperweight, take maybe moby dick!! this is a zillion pages of awfully constructed sentences and achingly stupid storyline with cardboard characters and uninspired philosophy. really, ayn rand has so little to say in general that it is just shocking that so many people will listen to her attempt to flesh out a one-line theory ad nauseum in painful and impotent redundancy. it's really really awful. which would be fine except people really claim to glean something from it. i think i missed the page with the free money or something. i'd rather eat a cucumber for every worthless page than have to suffer through it again.

  30. 4 out of 5

    April

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 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 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.

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