My Thoughts On Atlas Shrugged


As I mentioned previously, I completed my reading of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged this past Sunday.  The first word that comes to mind about my experience reading Ayn Rand’s work is WOW!

Atlas Shrugged hands down has to be one of the best books I’ve ever read, period.  Bearing in mind that I’m fully aware of why people would even be against reading this piece of literature, from not only a political but a philosophical standpoint as well.  While I understand it very well might be difficult for some to separate the political aspects of the book from the story, but I do think it’s entirely possible to do so because the story is very good.

A little background, I became fascinated with Ayn Rand’s works when I read The Fountainhead in 2009 while I was on vacation.  I simply breezed through the book and really enjoyed the story there.  After reading The Fountainhead I decided I wanted to read more Ayn Rand and decided last year at this time to tackle Atlas Shrugged.

I’ll keep it simple, Atlas Shrugged tells the story of Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden and their struggle between government and those who aren’t nearly as successful as they are.  Many top businessmen in addition to Taggart and Rearden are targeted by government policies allowing those who aren’t nearly as successful prosper off the backs of those who are enjoying success.

I truly enjoyed the story of Atlas Shrugged.  I felt it progressed slowly in some parts, but in others, I felt there may not have been enough detail.  It had the full spectrum of characters, from honest and hardworking, to conniving and cheating.  Dagny is clearly one of the heroes in the book, whereas her brother Jim is conniving and very political in nature, hoping to destroy anything to maintain the status quo.

While I enjoyed the story line of Atlas Shrugged  very much, I also enjoyed the political and philosophical aspects of the novel as well.  From a personal standpoint, I happen to believe and agree with several points Ayn Rand presented in the book.  Especially the arguments against socialism and how it can cripple individual and/or business achievements and limits economic growth and innovation.  However, since this blog deals specifically with books, I will not delve very much into political ideology.  But I feel, no matter what your viewpoints are, it’s terribly important to be well aware of all sides of the argument so you can better understand your own position.

Overall, I think everyone who’s interested in reading challenging works of literature, I highly recommend reading Atlas Shrugged.  It will definitely stretch your reading limits and is certainly out-of-the-box from other works that I’ve read.  If you’ve read Atlas Shrugged, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About Jeremy

Husband, book lover, Civil War Buff. If I could read for a living I would, but unfortunately, it doesn't pay the bills!

10 Responses to “My Thoughts On Atlas Shrugged”

  1. Those were pretty much my thoughts exactly! I thought it was terrific and was sad when I was finished–since it took me almost two months to read it felt like an era of my life was over! My boyfriend just finished it a day or two ago, and he said he’d put together something for me to post over on my blog on his thoughts, so I’m looking forward to getting that from him. In the meantime, if you want to check out the post I wrote, here’s the link: http://bridgetsbooks.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/atlas-shrugged-ayn-rand/ 🙂

    • Hi Bridget, thanks for dropping by! I was a bit sad when I finished it and it’s definitely something that takes a large time investment. Galt’s speech in the third part was pretty long, and I plan on writing another post about that in the coming days.

  2. I think she writes really well and I loved the story. There was a bit of a con towards the end when the main romantic lead transformed into someone else with no apparent distinction of personality between the two. Very handy.

    Also, from Rand’s perspective, and background, free enterprise must be a positive way to make a change in the world but these people / entrepreneurs / business people aren’t there to make a change. They want to do what they love, what makes them happy. In reality, however, do people who set up sweat shops and manufacturing businesses, and tabloid newspapers, pornography publications and videos, all the business people of today – are they all doing it for the love of free enterprise?

    And where are the disabled, the ill, the mothers, the children in this story? Where are all those people who can’t work and earn a living in the way that Rand finds acceptable? It’s like she’s writing about some simplistic and idealised caricature of a real world or society. I wonder what she would think of this ‘post-industrial’ world where the service industries are prevailing and people don’t need industry like they used to?

    It’s an idealised and limited world at best. It’s one for the people who believe that America is the land of the free and anyone can become president etc. Doesn’t touch on reality much.

    • Hi Joanna, you’re right, the love interest pretty much changed on a dime, and that was something I really wasn’t expecting, Dagny to change lovers like that, and with very little explanation, as both John Galt and Hank Rearden have very similar beliefs/personalities.

      You’re right, from Rand’s perspective, these industrialists were wanting to do what made them happy and make positive changes in the world. I would like to think that Rand would be against sweat shops, tabloids, and the other areas you mentioned as promoting positive change and/or promoting their own happiness. While I think she would approve of trying to make as much money as possible, but not at the expense of human decency.

      Obviously, Rand didn’t include the disabled, the ill, mothers, and children in this story for her own purposes. Sure, she’s taken some creative liberties to make her point about her philosophy, and in a fictional world, you have that creative license to do so.

      Atlas Shrugged was written during a different economic time than the service based economy we have today. I think the same principles can be applied today, but is it realistic? Probably not. Most philosophical works work out really well on paper, but not very well in practice, communism comes to mind as a good example of that point.

      Thanks for dropping by!

  3. I think I may have mentioned this before, but when I read this book at about age 25 I recognized its greatness, but was conflicted and somewhat turned off by the message. Now that I’m older I would probably have a much different outlook on the ideologies expressed and be more in agreement with them. I agree that it’s a great book. I still intend to reread it eventually.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

    • Hi Lee,

      Yeah, I believe you did mention that before. I know if I had read the book 10 years ago in my 20s, I probably would’ve been turned off with the message as well. I’m glad I picked this particular time to tackle Ayn Rand’s classic. I will most definitely end up reading it again, as I’m sure there are some things I missed as well. Thanks for dropping by!

  4. For the longest time, I said I’d never read this. I’m not sure what I’ll think of the philosophy, but from what I’ve read of Rand so far, I’m unimpressed. Still, I want to read outside my comfort zone. And my sister LOVES this book. So eventually. 🙂

    • It’s so funny, you must’ve been reading my mind as I was contemplating tweeting you earlier today that you had to read this book! I was in a similar boat about 10 years ago with Rand. I don’t know if it’s a combination of me getting older, or the maturation of my philosophical beliefs that has changed that got me to reading Rand and beginning to agree with her philosophy.

      But I totally get that Rand’s views is what keeps a lot of people from tackling any of her works. Before tackling Atlas Shrugged I highly suggest reading The Fountainhead first. In the brief section following the end of Atlas Shrugged Rand indicates that The Fountainhead establishes the foundations for topics she tackled in Atlas Shrugged. I read The Fountainhead two years ago and absolutely loved it!

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