- Hardcover: 1168 pages
- Publisher: Random House (October 12, 1957)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0394415760
- ISBN-13: 978-0394415765
- Package Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6,032 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,584,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
''Countless individuals working to secure liberty have found inspiration in the works of Ayn Rand. With her unique ability to depict heroism, idealism, and romance behind the creativity of the individual, Rand inspires readers to come to the defense of free minds and free markets.'' --Chip Mellor, Institute for Justice
''Narrator Scott Brick takes listeners on a journey so extraordinary they'll hardly notice the book's length. While his performance offers little in the way of theatrics, Brick is capable of garnering sympathy and, perhaps most importantly, devout attention for Rand's plot and characters. On the surface, Brick's voice is a cool, unrelenting force determined to capture every facet of Rand's complex story. But amid his calm and collected delivery, he taps into a more colorful emotional palette that will keep listeners involved. Brick's subtle delivery holds far more than meets the ear.'' --AudioFile
''[A] vibrant and powerful novel of ideas.'' --New York Herald Tribune
''Ayn Rand is destined to rank in history as the outstanding novelist and most profound philosopher of the twentieth century.'' --New York Daily Mirror
''Atlas Shrugged is not merely a novel. It is also--or may I say--first of all--a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society.'' --Ludwig von Mises, philosopher and economist
Praise for Ayn Rand:
''A writer of great power. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly.'' --The New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Ayn Rand (1905-1982) is best known for her philosophy of Objectivism and her novels We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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Her characters talk things to death, but she dramatizes ideas many readers, then or now, have never heard. She shows our protagonists’ pursuit of work and excellence to the exclusion of most other elements in life.
She defends how they live and shows how critical they are to a society which meanwhile disparages them for selfishness and fails to acknowledge the significance of what they contribute - and at the end of the day regulates them to death, seizes their wealth or both.
Characters like Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden make no excuse for being “selfish” in pursuit of work and productivity. They do it to make money for themselves and stockholders, and make no bones about that: it’s reason enough. But they also do it because it’s beautiful, in their minds, the highest personal endeavor. They’re the ones that keep society running and provide its necessities, although society can’t admit it.
There are many, many long, long, LONG conversations as Rand seeks to turn prevailing modern assumptions on their head: That we’re here primarily to help others. That allowing people to control their own property is selfish. That the government does a better job of running society and the economy.
At a more personal level, Rand does her best to inject different ideas into the mix. Her protagonists despise dependence upon others as well as any sense that you live for others. Dagny, in her burgeoning affair with the married Hank, regards him as owing her nothing. Her independence is refreshing. She’s not independent in a postmodern, feminist sense of rebelling resentfully against the men closest to her. She’s independent in that she can fend for herself, expects others to do the same, and doesn’t want a man to cling to her, either.
Our protagonists decry society’s looters and moochers – those who punitively tax the productive and those who whine to be helped.
Rand uses the great length to portray inside business and political dealings, less melodramatic but more complex than what’s usually portrayed elsewhere. It takes her a while to get around to it, but you finally see where she’s going: the government injects itself more and more into the process. Every owner here must answer to officials who look more and more like commissars. Every owner tries to get by using Washington fixers to keep the government off his back, but in the long run fails. The government starts dictating who gets what raw materials, how much they can produce and who to ship it to. Producers produce less and less, their industries start to fall apart, and thus so does society.
Rand’s prolixity is put to good use in descriptive passages finding the beauty of industry - of blast furnaces, of gleaming rail stretching across plains and hills, of fabulous new bridges and skyscrapers. These are the things people build, beautiful in themselves and in what they represent: ideas proved right, energy, will, intelligence, investment, hard work, science, technology. These industrial artifacts are usually portrayed as ugly from a postmodern or environmental perspective by the ‘we’re raping Mother Earth’ school.
What was gained by such industry – steel, transportation, habitats and offices – and what was gained by all those – more places to live one’s life and seek one’s dreams, and a larger world to do it in – is often ignored and forgotten. And you can’t forget that. Those who want you to give it up, and will institute regulation or revolution to force you to, never seem to say how they’d substitute for it. And when given the chance to – Communist countries with complete and dictatorial control – they invariably fail. Your typical revolutionary couldn’t run a candy store, let alone a railroad.
There was a film called “Koyaanisqatsi” back in the 1980s, an American Indian word that meant “world out of balance”. It consisted entirely of video, much of it time-lapse, of human construction upon the planet. We were supposed to perceive it all as ugly. But the bands of light, say, streaming from thousands of cars moving in mesmerizing lines at night along urban highways was actually beautiful, which is why anyone watched the movie until the end. It disproved its own point.
The book has numerous flaws, more than a classic normally should, but it is so unique, it’s worthwhile despite it. There are too many endless conversations and interior monologues. Rand disparages feelings, as opposed to thought, but much of the book consists of her characters emoting. Well, OK, they’re thinking, the protagonists anyway (the bad guys, particularly near the end, are shown panicking, in ways they can’t verbalize, thought having succumbed to emotion) but it’s a very fine line. This book would be better at half or a third of the length. I have read that Rand used benzedrine, a stimulant, for three decades; if so, this book bears evidence of it. It would explain why so many of her passages go on for so long, far longer than it takes to actually explicate the thoughts in question, and counterproductive to the causes of holding readers or communicating, which I imagine she’d in normal circumstances have held dear.
John Galt’s legendary speech – said in the book to take three hours, but I imagine this would take even longer to actually read aloud; it’s 60 pages in one hardcover version – is in its own category. Rand lays out her philosophy the way philosophers do. It will cross the eyes of anyone else, those not greatly concerned with whether, say, existence can prove its own existence. But I’m willing to stipulate that political philosophies at some point and for some fraction of people must be proven in this way.
Rand at times writes like a girl; I say this affectionately. Dagny Taggart generally beats the guys (save for a few who are her equals, like Francisco D’Anconia and Hank Reardon) at their own game. She’s tough, competent, decisive and hard-working. But there is a tremendous amount of melodrama attached, not only to her, but to all of them. She’s always appearing at some important scene straight from some party in her formal evening wear, her strapless gown blowing in the wind, a striking, mesmerizing figure. (‘I Dreamed I Smashed The Collectivist Looter State in My Maidenform Bra.’)
And all the key men in the book are in love with her! And she has to choose! Oh, what to do, what to do?! It’s so awful! It’s so wonderful! Oh, TAKE ME!
It’s a lot of fun, actually, because it’s part of a book that actually says something.
Ann Rand's masterpiece, "Atlas Shrugged", in its unabridged form is a 1000+ page tome that might easily overwhelm you in keeping all the characters and plot points together. Just because it took Rand many years to write the book, it doesn't mean you want to have to spend years to understand it (or at least most of it).
Rather than treat reading the book in the same way one would approach dissection of a book in a graduate school course, comparing and contrasting characters, outlining the plot in excruciating detail, looking for incidents foreshadowed, tracking the comings and goings of numerous characters, and in general taking the joy out of reading the book, I decided to sub-contract that work to CliffsNotes.
Yes, I know it is a CliffsNotes guide, but I bought and read it only after reading the book, and I found things in the guide that I had missed in my original reading of "Atlas Shrugged". I was then able to re-read parts of the book and connect the dots on some of the more esoteric ideas presented. My friend Cliff (AKA, Andrew Bernstein) via his Cliff's notes did an excellent job for me.
This is by no means a substitute for reading the book. (I always read unabridged versions of books that I acquire and suggest that you do the same.) Yes Rand is wordy, but she has a lot to say. Her forecast of a frightening future world dystopic society, ruled by bureaucrats was written many decades ago. Rand seems to be a prophet in describing the progression of the post-WWII western world. If while reading this book, you don't have a slightly uncomfortable feeling about the direction of how things are moving in the United States, you best read it again.
Oh, and for Audible fans, the book is available albeit in a number of parts to facilitate downloading. I did not see a way to do the downloads to one file -- which if not available, should be, for those of us blessed by a fast Internet connection.
But I would use the Audible version only to do immersion reading lest when you are fatigued events move faster than you absorb the book, and "Atlas Shrugged" becomes a lullaby. Rand's work is not good bedtime reading, and I suggest reading it only when you are alert and have a block of time available to give it your all. In my case, I got absolutely hooked on the book, so I made a lot of time open to read the book.
Like several books written in the early-mid twentieth century it predicts the dangers of progressive government policies that seek to reward the weak and lazy in society at the expense of the strong and productive. After you read the book, whether you agree with its political philosophy or not, you will see shades of the plot line in many of the institutions and government policies that we are accustomed to today.
John Galt's radio address towards the end of the book sums up Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy if you want to skip to that portion of the book to save yourself the time of reading the entire story.
I enjoyed the book, but it's not one that I will be taking the time to read again.
Most recent customer reviews
I worked in a “Man’s” business but as a female, I did well.Read more
Hay que leer the fountainhead