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Atlas Shrugged Paperback – August 1, 1999
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"The Banty House" by Carolyn Brown
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About the Author
- Lexile measure : 990L
- Item Weight : 2.35 pounds
- Paperback : 1192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0452011876
- ISBN-13 : 978-0452011878
- Dimensions : 6 x 2 x 9 inches
- Publisher : NAL; 35th ed. edition (August 1, 1999)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #29,782 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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As literature, this book is just OK, hence the four stars. Rand was not a native English speaker. That she managed to write this well in a second language is amazing. I would have written this book differently, but I didn't write it. Everything after The Big Long Speech is necessary, I suppose, but kind of sophomoric, definitely a B movie. As science fiction, the book is laughable, but I suggest you cut the author some slack and go with it. As an exposition of important ideas, this book has no equal. If you want to know what's wrong with the world, you can start here. It is important that you not *end* here. Think of this book as a laxative. Once you have ingested this, you can work on restocking your mental gut with better food than our culture has given you.
Speaking of speeches, this book has lots of them. I have a friend who says this is her favorite book, but she also says she has never read the speeches. Here's news for you: if you haven't read the speeches, you haven't read the book. Knowing her, I suspect that if she read the speeches, it would no longer be her favorite book. Atlas Shrugged is an assault upon your morals. Some people are surprised to learn that their morals deserved to be assaulted. Some never get over the fact of the assault, assuming the problem lies with the author and her infernal book. No. The problem lies with some very old and pervasive ideas that turn out to be senseless, destructive, murderous, and just plain wrong. Some of us sort of knew that all along, but thought we were the only ones who thought so. It's a relief to see this out in the light of day.
I believe the author's strategy is to make you tired. The main character tries way too hard before capitulating, allowing the author to write yet more episodes illustrating the corrupt and coercive muck we wallow in, the stuff you've encountered all your life, perhaps wondering if life really had to be this way. No, it doesn't. The aforementioned Big Long Speech is one of the greatest things ever written. But the author has to soften you up first.
Some people read this and get strange. This is probably to be expected after somebody hits the reset button on their morality. It takes a while to figure out what to do next. A few people never recover, becoming something like Jesus Freaks. Most readers eventually resettle their minds, but in a different place than it would have been if they hadn't read this book.
Still need a reason to read this book? It will help you say No when No needs to be said. It might even save your life. Really.
I loved the character of Danny Taggart, who is portrayed as a woman ahead of her time considering the era in which this book was written. Can't stand Hank Reardan, who is supposed to be a hero, but is just an arrogant, if intelligent, putz.
The writing style was awful...I would really love to know how many times some form of the word "astonish" is used in the book. Rand seems to need to state the most mundane points in both the positive and negative fashion. She would not say "Dagny was happy..." She would say "Dagny was, not sad, but happy. That is to say she was filled with joy, she was joyous. She was not downtrodden, but rather, pleased." This is not a quote from the book, but would have fit right in. Goodness, Ayn, leave it at happy, we all get it.
Rand does write some great triumphant moments...especially when her heroes accomplish a monumental task or, pull off a dramatic act of rebellion. These are the moments that push you through the drivel. Examples: the first run of the John Galt line, or when John Galt instructs the clueless politicians in how to repair their torture machine.
As for her philosophy...I am not in agreement. The world she portrays in Galt's Gulch would not be the end result of a nation which accepted her primitive , childish, self-centered, arrogant and elitist tenets. Her true society would look like a bunch of four year olds, sitting on top of their toys, crying mine, mine, mine!
The novel seems to me to be particularly timely in regard to the current philosophical debate in American society at this time. The book revolves around the larger issues of private enterprise and entrepreneurship and socialism and government control. Within the larger theme are many subplots including some romantic intrigue.
The first novel by Ayn Rand that I read was "Atlas Shrugged". Since then I have read "Anthem", "The Fountainhead", and a second reading of "Atlas Shrugged". "Anthem" and "Atlas Shrugged" are both dystopian novels. I don't wish to risk spoiling the reading experience for a perspective reader. It is clear to me that Ayn Rand conveys her personal philosophy within these works. In "The Fountainhead" she seems to extol her preferred architecture along with a very strange sexual relationship between two individuals. In "Atlas Shrugged" there is yet more unusual romantic relationships between individuals. Having also read a biography about Ayn Rand it is clear that there is a semi autobiographical aspect to those parts of these novels.
In summary I am very glad that I had a chance to read and study both "Atlas Shrugged" and the life and works of Ayn Rand. Her novels provide both entertainment and fuel for thought. I doubt that this book will suit the tastes of all readers, but it is highly readable and was well worth the effort to me. Thank You...
Top reviews from other countries
If you fancy yourself as a superhero just read Sun Tzu 'The Art of War' or Clausewitz 'On War' which make clear and mercifully brief arguments which could actually be useful if you were a senior army officer. Neither of them have much to say of value to anyone running a business or going into politics, although a lot of shallow people assert the contrary.
The novel is an attempt to illustrate Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, which can be discussed elsewhere if you have the inclination, though few philosophers think it worthy of the time it would take.
One could imagine businessmen brandishing this book in the same way Trump brandishes the Bible. It is seen by those who have achieved some success in business as a rationale for rejecting any and all constraints upon their behaviour.
The story is set many decades in the past and focuses on a rail executive who finds herself in a world where business leaders are disappearing. The story is interesting and gripping, but not the main reason why people read this book.
The story is suppose to express Rand's "Objectivism" to readers in a way that is easy to understand and convincing. This world view attempts to justify extreme egoism and reject altruism. This is perhaps the only bit of Rand's Objectivisms that comes through well. Other parts such as her epistemology and metaphysics are easy to understand, but very unconvincing.
This book is a commitment to read, but one that everyone should take in their life. This book has influenced countless leaders throughout the world, and it is good to have read it to better understand their thought process.