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Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
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Atlas Shrugged (original 1957; edition 1999)

by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,876269111 (3.85)452
Member:atrautz
Title:Atlas Shrugged
Authors:Ayn Rand
Other authors:Leonard Peikoff (Introduction)
Info:Plume (1999), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 1200 pages
Collections:Your library, Fiction/Literature/Plays/Essays, Read
Rating:*****
Tags:Literature

Work details

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)

  1. 134
    The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (PghDragonMan, bigtent21, thebookpile)
    PghDragonMan: This earlier work is more lyrical and is a milder, and more condensed, version of the philosophy expressed by this work.
    bigtent21: "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" are becoming more relevant as we head into 2009. Large Government Buyouts and Regulation are the scourge of Atlas Shrugged and the outright sponsoring of mediocrity predominates The Fountainhead. Rand can be long-winded, but these two books are must reads regardless of your own personal beliefs.… (more)
  2. 72
    An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (thebookpile)
  3. 63
    The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (lauranav)
  4. 74
    The Ayn Rand Cult by Jeff Walker (bertilak)
  5. 63
    Essays on Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged by Robert Mayhew (mcaution)
    mcaution: Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Rand's magnum opus through this unique collection of scholarly criticism. See why after 50+ years in print it's selling better than when it was first published.
  6. 31
    The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek (ljessen)
  7. 00
    Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi (kswolff)
    kswolff: Henry Hill, like Dagny Taggart, uses ingenuity and skill to avoid his income getting taxed by repressive moocher FBI agents and Narcs.
  8. 22
    Metaphysics (Metaphysica) by Aristotle (thebookpile)
  9. 11
    The God of the Machine by Isabel Paterson (bertilak)
  10. 01
    Ten Rallies by Pasquin (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Do the needs of the many outweigh the value of the individual?
  11. 23
    Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns (szarka)
  12. 12
    Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Fans of both Ayn Rand and the fantasy genre will find affirmation in Goodkind's series, notably beginning with this entry.
  13. 23
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (rratzlaff)
  14. 02
    Juliette by Marquis de Sade (kswolff)
    kswolff: Like "Atlas Shrugged," it is an aspirational epic about a strong-minded, pleasure-seeking woman triumphing over adversity and the herd mentality of her fellow humans. Sade, like Rand, was also a strident atheist given to writing characters give long speeches.
  15. 14
    BioShock: Rapture by John Shirley (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Intriguing premise: the fictional rise and fall of an Ayn Rand utopia (sf/horror)
  16. 29
    The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition by Stephen King (missmaddie)
    missmaddie: Epic struggles of good vs. evil
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» See also 452 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 264 (next | show all)
Super important message. But rather naive. Pure blacks and whites. ( )
  skippa | Jun 25, 2015 |
Nothing infects a child of the West like a story with a train chugging through its heart. The tracks spider out across great expanses, carrying life blood to infuse in the extremities where those who don’t know any better flee thinking life is better; carrying dreams, and hope. Great beasts, they shake the ground and stop only when it suits them. With such wild power, the barons of another day effected what they thought was a taming effect on a feral landscape. And though they climbed to new heights of wealth clinging to the steel monsters, they tamed neither the wild lands nor its people. Indeed, the thundering beasts were merely adopted into the Western story, symbols less of wealth and industrialization and more of ingenuity and freedom.

It was with these eyes that Ayn Rand’s [Atlas Shrugged] began for me, centering on the Dagny Taggart, uncommonly strong and frank, trying to keep her grandfather’s train dreams alive while her corrupt and feeble brother, James, destroys the company. She is joined in her quest by Hank Reardon, a genius mechanical and chemical engineer who created a new kind of steel, lighter and stronger than anything that has been seen before. James has partnered with a cabal of greedy businessmen and politicians, in a world-wide scheme to force a new economic system into place that would keep assure their own wealth and power at the expense of the masses and anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Against all odds, and against a powerful enemy, Dagny and Hank set out to build a new railroad line in Colorado, built with Hank’s new steel, and intended to benefit other business and technology mavericks who are imbuing a pallid economy with innovation.

What’s wrong with that? It’s a compelling story with interesting characters on both sides. Heroes and villains set against steel and timber stretching into the great unknown where dreams could come true or be crushed.

What’s wrong is Ayn Rand couldn’t get out of her own way; she couldn’t let her writing, which is sometimes great, and her storytelling, which is solid, stand on their own. Rand tossed a slatted, wooden box out in front of her, in the middle of the masses who might read, who might give her a hearing, and she stepped up above them all. Once she had their full attention, she begun to preach with the stamina of the apostle Paul, who was stopped only by a man who, exhausted, fell out of a window.

Rand preaches through her characters voices, either the evil pseudo-socialists, intent on enslaving the stupid, inept masses and lining their pockets or the idealistic and fiercely free market heroes. They speak in whole paragraphs, in whole pages and people don’t talk that way. They repeat the philosophies, either good or bad, ad nauseam, until a reader can be confused about whether the page or chapter is one that’s already behind them. The resulting bloated text is at least three quarters longer than it would have to be to tell the story, or to carry Rand’s message, and still she preaches on. As the book crawls toward its crescendo, John Galt, a leader of the ‘free market or die’ set, hacks the radio and television frequencies and launches into the mother of all speeches. He holds the world hostage until they hear him out, just as Rand is holding the reader hostage until the speech, clocking in at 70 pages, is over. Galt insists on the last word, and so does Rand, even though she has beat everyone over the head for 1000 pages before Galt finally makes his complete case in person. I suspect I’m not the only reader who just turned past the pages until it was over.

So, why persevere so long with such a tiresome book. I suppose there was some part of me that didn’t want Rand to win, that didn’t want her to have the last word. But what drove me on was wanting to know what happened to Dagny and Hank, what happened to the Taggart Transcontinental Line. Of course, I suspected their fate, as Rand is not shy about structuring the plot to punish her characters and make an example of them, just as she continues to punish her readers. But the seed of a good story was still there, compelling me to hang onto the train as it streaked through the desert toward oblivion.

And Rand makes the occasional point about society and the conflicted human heart that is keenly observed and quickening. Here’s one, about how people can often reduce themselves to their minimum thought capacity in the face of adversity and how it exposes them to the corruptor’s control:
“You see, people don’t want to think. And the deeper they get into trouble, the less they want to think. But by some sort of instinct, they feel they ought to and it makes them feel guilty. So they’ll bless and follow anyone who gives them a justification for not thinking. Anyone who makes a virtue – a highly intellectual virtue – out of what they know to be their sin, their weakness and their guilt.”
Anyone who would doubt the keenness of that observation need only look at any period of history in the United States that coincides with a Presidential election.

Here’s another, where she sees victory in a full and frank discussion of corruption, where the wink and the nod rule:
“There was a time when men were afraid that somebody would reveal some secret of theirs that was unknown to their fellows. Nowadays, they’re afraid that somebody will name what everybody knows. Have you practical people ever thought that that’s all it would take to blast your whole, big complex structure, with all your laws and guns – just somebody naming the exact nature of what you’re doing.”

Another thing that kept me reading is that Rand, when she briefly discontinues writing like she was composing a pamphlet, is a good writer. She really is – listen:
“A gray cotton, which was neither quite fog nor clouds, hung in the sloppy wads between sky and mountain, making the sky look like an old mattress spilling its stuffing down the sides of the peaks. A crusted snow covered the ground, belonging neither to winter nor to spring. A net of moisture hung in the air, and she felt an icy pin-prick on her face once in a while, which was neither a raindrop nor a snowflake. The weather seemed afraid to take a stand and clung non-committally to some sort of road’s middle; Board of Director’s weather, she thought.
Obviously, this passage is used at a time of ambiguity in the character’s life. Dagny is feeling the same tug and push toward opposite poles of her mind, and Rand stands surrounds her in the vague.

And another passage, Dagny sees a tramp aboard one of her trains and Rand describes the man through her eyes:
“An aging tramp had taken refuge in the corner of her vestibule. He sat on the floor, his posture suggesting that he had no strength left to stand up or to care about being caught. He was looking at the conductor, his eyes observant, fully conscious, but devoid of any reaction. … He moved obediently to rise, his hand groping upward along the rivets of the car’s wall. She saw him glance at her and glance away, as if she were merely another inanimate fixture of the train. … The tramp’s suit was a mass of careful patches on a cloth so stiff and shiny with wear that one expected it to crack like glass if bent; but she noticed the collar of his shirt: it was bone-white from repeated laundering and it still preserved a semblance of shape. He had pulled himself up to his feet, he was looking indifferently at the black hole upon miles of uninhabited wilderness where no one would see the body or hear the voice of a mangled man, but the only gesture of concern he made was to tighten his grip on a small, dirty bundle, as if to make sure he would not lose it in leaping from the train.”
You can feel the weary and conflicted nobility of the tramp vividly in the description of his clothes, in his gaze, and in his dedication to survival. Though near the end of his rope, he battles to maintain an appearance and holds dearly to what he has left of himself.

The subtlety and acute observation of which Rand is capable is sadly brief, overcome for great lengths by her fist pounding sermon. But there was enough of it that I wanted to finish. I can’t recommend the book to anyone, given that I finished it out of a sense of principle more than enjoyment. Her earlier book, [The Fountainhead], offered more of what made [Atlas Shrugged] barely bearable: a solid story, interesting and diverse characters, and a dedication to writing over delivering a message. Though, Rand was much more proud of [Atlas Shrugged], calling it her opus, and [The Fountainhead] just a slight prelude on the concepts that she felt she should develop for the masses. This book has broken me the need to read her other novels, even if they were written earlier and might offer the more subtle, the better Rand. If anyone asks, I’ll direct them to [The Fountainhead], if they simply must read Rand.

It’s unfortunate that her writing, which has transcendent moments, is so colored by her philosophy and sermonizing. She was much more prolific in the world of the essay and political or economic thought. And so many snake-oil salesmen have latched onto her system of beliefs that she is either unflinchingly revered as a Greek goddess or openly ridiculed – and there’s more to her than either of those thin characterizations. But it is her own fault. She felt the need to preach rather than tell a story, an inclination that has soured me on many other writers, including the canonized like Dorris Lessing and James Joyce. I don’t want to feel like I’m getting a lesson with every word that I read.

So, this train keeps chugging, but Ayn Rand was put off at the last station before the desert begins in earnest.

Bottom Line: A tiresome book, told from atop a soap box, but one that has the seeds of a good story and transcendent moments of writing.

2 ½ bones!!!!! ( )
6 vote blackdogbooks | Jun 6, 2015 |
Like the movie, the third part of the book was by far the worst. It gets really long winded and preachy at the end. This is particularly evident by the approximately three disks it takes just to record John Gault's speech. A speech completely antithetical to religion in general and to Catholicism and the doctrine of original sin in particular.

The beginning of Part III was somewhat entertaining, even challenging based on the "love" that James Tagert and Sheryl "express."

Throughout all three parts, including this one, it is more and more clear that Any Rand is an ugly old hag who is upset that men don't love her for her mind, and she makes up a protagonist who is the envy of all the powerful men, Gault, Reardon, and DiConnia, because of her beautiful mind. Sorry that real life sucks for you.

Between the hatred of religion, and the lustful portions of the characters, I am really amazed at the number of "conservative" Republicans I have heard recommend that this book be required reading for public school. It makes me wonder if they've ever actually read it, or they just heard that its about the power of the free market and small government, and they know its so long they'd never actually read it, so they better force someone else to.

The first two parts were good, so I guess you have to read the last part to get the whole story. I had hoped the ending would be better than the movie, but it may be even worse because Gault's speech is even longer, and the tail end, the epilogue, ends with a new central plan, just now run by the "right" people. ( )
  fulner | May 26, 2015 |
Having been stimulated by the perceptive visions of Ayn Rand in my reading of 'The Fountainhead' I moved to 'Atlas Shrugged'; no mean feat considering the obvious challenge to my reading habits posed by its 1168 pages. However, the decision was thoroughly justified, as 'Atlas Shrugged' has provided even more food for thought than the other. Ayn Rand is surely one of the finest writers of the twentieth century, with her meticulous style and brilliant ideas. She has a grasp of philosophy, science and engineering and how these disciplines stimulate the minds of scientists. She puts to shame both non-specialist writers and supposedly educated people in general, and in this book she is able to develop many complex ideas into a superb vision of how failures to respect the human mind can lead to disaster in society. This is certainly a book that could change your life – if you can open your mind enough. ( )
1 vote CliffordDorset | May 11, 2015 |
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand Ayn Rand is one of my favorite authors and I have only read Atlas Shrugged. I saw the first two movies after a friend had mentioned them and loved the subject matter. After being sadly disappointed with the third movie (Atlas Shrugged Part III), I felt compelled to read the book. The first two movies were fairly decent representations of the story, but unfortunately in my opinion, the third was not.To start, I'm not here to preach political beliefs to anyone. I strongly agree with Ayn's perspective on life. If you want to have a long conversation about it or a debate, I'm not interested in doing so. I know that we all have different perspectives and opinions about life and how things should be. That's what makes life so fun and exciting. Different points of views that offer us insight into determining if we do or don't like something, and if we choose to incorporate more of those things in our own lifes.The message is poignant and the characters are strong. I think that everyone, from every country, can gain immense value by reading Atlas Shrugged.Ayn is not American born and I appreciate her work ethic and mentality greatly. I'm excited to read more of her works. ( )
  MarthaSweeney | Apr 17, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 264 (next | show all)
"Despite laborious monologues, the reader will stay with this strange world, borne along by its story and eloquent flow of ideas."
added by GYKM | editNewsweek
 
"to warn contemporary America against abandoning its factories, neglecting technological progress and abolishing the profit motive seems a little like admonishing water against running uphill."
 
"inspired" and "monumental" but "(t)o the Christian, everyone is redeemable. But Ayn Rand’s ethical hardness may repel those who most need her message: that charity should be voluntary…. She should not have tried to rewrite the Sermon on the Mount."
 
Atlas Shrugged represents a watershed in the history of world literature.
 
"remarkably silly" and "can be called a novel only by devaluing the term" ... "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To the gas chambers — go!'"
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

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Ayn Randprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To Frank O'Connor and Nathaniel Branden
To Frank O'Connor
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"Who is John Galt?"
Quotations
I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.
Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned.
Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it.
Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other.
It wasn’t real, was it?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0452011876, Paperback)

At last, Ayn Rand's masterpiece is available to her millions of loyal readers in trade paperback.

With this acclaimed work and its immortal query, "Who is John Galt?", Ayn Rand found the perfect artistic form to express her vision of existence. Atlas Shrugged made Rand not only one of the most popular novelists of the century, but one of its most influential thinkers.

Atlas Shrugged is the astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world--and did. Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged stretches the boundaries further than any book you have ever read. It is a mystery, not about the murder of a man's body, but about the murder--and rebirth--of man's spirit.

Atlas Shrugged is the "second most influential book for Americans today" after the Bible, according to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:10 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The decisions of a few industrial leaders shake the roots of capitalism and reawaken man's awareness of himself as an heroic being.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 16 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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