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Atlas Shrugged

A book written by the philosopher Ayn Rand

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Required Reading for the Sane

  • Jan 7, 2008
I reread Atlas shrugged, and as befits a classic, my review is even stronger this time. This time around, I read and listened to the audio book version together, highlighting key passages for their philosophical insight. There are 500 pages of a great novel, 500 pages of a comprehensive objective philosophy survey textbook, and 200 pages that could have been edited out to make this 1200 page concrete block more portable.

Still, my first review holds true: this must rate as one of the literary classics of the 20th century for Rand's philosophical insights and facility for cinematicly descriptive writing, an amazing feat for a Russian-born author writing in her second language. The application of Randian philsophy to current events, politics, and cultural climate leads one to the conclusion that Rand was more right than we'd like to admit.

Original review:

This must rate as one of the literary classics of the 20th century for Rand's philosophical insights and facility for cinematicly descriptive writing, an amazing feat for a Russian-born author writing in her second language. The application of Randian philosophy to current events, politics, and cultural climate leads one to the conclusion that Rand was more right than we'd like to admit.

The rating is for the ideas; the novel that is wrapped around them would rate just a little lower, knocked down by too many long monologues to express those ideas, especially a 50-page one at the crucial climax of the book that should have involved dialogue, action, and crises.

Still, this book packs such a vast array of (I think its safe to say) dangerous ideas that it can't be ignored. In fact, 50 years later, the ideas that have been ignored are glaringly obvious in current economic, political, and cultural loose thinking and the rotten fruits that have arisen from it. I felt as though I was watching Rand script some of the wrong-headed events I've witnessed in working around government projects the last several years.

Obviously, as a Christian, I can't agree with Rand's core idea that morality is only a result of rational or internal values (objectivism, as this philosophy has become known). God is the creator and source of all morality.

I do think that Rand is close to the truth in saying that the fall, the eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, made man his own moral compass. Rand believes that that event made man an Objectivist. I believe that event made us fallen sinners, because seeing good and evil, we are unable to always choose the good, thus we are inherently sinful and in need of God's miraculous salvation. Rand does not believe in the possibility of miracles or the need for salvation.

This should be required reading for politicians who want to enhance the "public welfare" or raise taxes so that government can "invest" in charity and other good deeds, and for those of any stripe who believe that they can act in the "public interest" by forcibly expropriating private property.

Rand's ideas have attained "cult" status; for example, check my review of Jeff Walker's book The Ayn Rand Cult, as as an example of this type, whose back-cover blurbs promise to expose Objectivism as "a classic cult."

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More Atlas Shrugged reviews
review by . July 09, 2010
Who the hell is John Galt???  This is a question of desperation, and certainly hope.   Not the sort of hope in others, Not a sort of passive hope, but a hope that my own determination, resolve, understanding and implementation of that understanding will keep the world going round on a path towards exquisite rightness.  I felt disgusted by the wrongness and seemingly hopelessness of certain character groups.  I fell in love several times during this book.  I laughed, …
review by . July 23, 2010
I have read this book perhaps six or seven times over the years.  Having just read another review of it, I think it may be time to read it again.  It's the kind of book that with each reading, speaks to you differently depending on where you are in your own passage through life.      Besides setting forth an interesting philosophy of life, it develops the plot and the characters in such a way that I was immediately sucked into the story and was lost until I finished …
review by . May 06, 2009
It took me six weeks but last night I read the final sentence of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" with a huge sigh of satisfaction and a total sense of accomplishment.  If anyone is interested in reading a book of this size, I suggest buying the Cliff Notes and reading the theme and character analysis from each chapter.  It is a wonderful way to dive into the deeper meanings as well as  keep the characters straight (thank you sister Sara for that gem!).    I will be …
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
You don't have to be a capitalist fanatic to love this thrilling, entertaining, and provocative page-turner by the late genius, Ayn Rand.
review by . August 04, 2009
    I read "Atlas Shrugged" years ago, and have been tempted to read it again, especially now as our government is trying to totally control all economic activity based on their greed for power. All ethics should be based on freedom for each individual. I believe this is the premise that Ayn Rand is basing her philosophy, if my recollection is correct. Government pays for its greed for power by forcefully taking from hard working, successful individuals to promote their …
Quick Tip by . July 09, 2010
Read it twice, both times in less than a sleepless week. I think I'll read it again!
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
Best book ever - hands down.
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2010
Honestly, when I even think about this book I get excited all over again. It's so moving. Every single line feels so important. So, so amazing.
Quick Tip by . June 22, 2010
I picked up this book expecting a long slog, after a few chapters I became hooked. I read, and I began to love some of the characters and the pace and breadth of the plot. Unfortunately, somewhere past the halfway point, the book seemed to morph into an extremely lengthy brief of Ms. Rand's personal ideology. Worse, the characters began to seem transparent shills for her philosophy. Read the Fountainhead, its like a thousand pages shorter and you'll get the same ideas out of it.
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2010
Although, this is book is founded on objectivism I believe there's really a lot more than meets the eye. The affairs, complexity of emotions, and beautiful, beautiful images drawn from this book definitely have left more of an influence on me. To capture the character of people so wonderfully is truly a gift.
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Todd Stockslager ()
Ranked #36
I love reading and writing about what I have read, making the connections and marking the comparisons and contrasts. God has given man the amazing power to invent language and the means to record it which … more
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Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States. It was Rand's fourth, longest, and last novel, and she considered it her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing. As indicated by its working title The Strike, the book explores a dystopian United States where leading industrialists and businessmen refuse to allow the government to exploit their labor for the "general good." The protagonist, Dagny Taggart, sees society collapse around her as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry, while society's most productive citizens, led by the mysterious John Galt, progressively disappear. Galt describes the strike as "stopping the motor of the world" by withdrawing the "minds" that drive society's growth and productivity; with their strike these creative minds hope to demonstrate that the economy and society would collapse without the profit motive and the efforts of the rational and productive.
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ISBN-10: 0525948929 (Centennial hbk. ed)
ISBN-13: 9780525948926 (Centennial hbk. ed)
Author: Rand, Ayn
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Date Published: April 21, 2005
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