UPDATE 8 25 Would you like to hear the only joke I ve ever written Q How many Objectivists does it take to screw in a lightbulb A Pause, then disdainfully Uhone And thus it is that so many of us have such a complicated relationship with the work of Ayn Rand unabashed admirers at the age of 19, unabashedly horrified by 25, after hanging out with some actual Objectivists and witnessing what a holes they actually are, and also realizing that Rand and her cronies were one of the guiltiest parties when it came to the 1950s Red Scare here in America Here in Rand s second massive manifesto slash novel, we follow the stories of a number of Titans of the Industrial Age the big, powerful white males who built the railroad industry, the big, powerful white males who built the electrical utility companies as well as a thinly veiled Roosevelt New Deal administration whose every attempt to regulate these Titans, according to Rand, is tantamount evil wise to killing and eating babies, even when it s child labor laws they are ironically passing Ultimately it s easy to see in novels like this one why Rand is so perfect for late teenagers, but why she elicits eye rolls by one s mid twenties because Objectivism is all about BEING RIGHT, and DROPPING OUT IF OTHERS CAN T UNDERSTAND THAT, and LET EM ALL GO TO HELL AS FAR AS I M CONCERNED, without ever taking into account the unending amount of compromise and cooperation and sometimes sheer altruism that actually makes the world work Recommended, but with a caveat that you read it before you re old enough to know better. This Is The Story Of A Man Who Said That He Would Stop The Motor Of The World And Did Was He A Destroyer Or The Greatest Of Liberators Why Did He Have To Fight His Battle, Not Against His Enemies, But Against Those Who Needed Him Most, And His Hardest Battle Against The Woman He Loved What Is The World S Motor And The Motive Power Of Every Man You Will Know The Answer To These Questions When You Discover The Reason Behind The Baffling Events That Play Havoc With The Lives Of The Characters In This Story Tremendous In Its Scope, This Novel Presents An Astounding Panorama Of Human Life From The Productive Genius Who Becomes A Worthless Playboy To The Great Steel Industrialist Who Does Not Know That He Is Working For His Own Destruction To The Philosopher Who Becomes A Pirate To The Composer Who Gives Up His Career On The Night Of His Triumph To The Woman Who Runs A Transcontinental Railroad To The Lowest Track Worker In Her Terminal Tunnels You Must Be Prepared, When You Read This Novel, To Check Every Premise At The Root Of Your ConvictionsThis Is A Mystery Story, Not About The Murder And Rebirth Of Man S Spirit It Is A Philosophical Revolution, Told In The Form Of An Action Thriller Of Violent Events, A Ruthlessly Brilliant Plot Structure And An Irresistible Suspense Do You Say This Is Impossible Well, That Is The First Of Your Premises To Check The best way to understand Rand s message in this book is to simply close it, and beat yourself over the head with it as hard as possible This is essentially what Rand does throughout it s ridiculous length I see no reason that a book with a strong lesson can t also have decent character development, natural dialog, and a believable plot Of course, I also think that you can establish a theme with subtlety, and trust that your reader will figure it out Ayn Rand writes as if the elements of fiction get in the way of her message, and that reader s skull s are extraordinarily thick and require a firm beating over the head to absorb the theme Countless philosophers have said the same thing better and quicker.I realize that I offend many atheists, agnostics and free thinkers by writing this, but as one myself, I have to say that a passionate love of Ayn Rand is not required for membership in that particular club Save yourself a headache, and pick up the much shorter Anthem It s just as overdone, but weighing it at ounces rather than pounds, it ll leave a smaller dent in your head.Oh, and if you re only reading it to answer the question on geeky bumper sticker Who is John Galt He s the hero and a symbol of the capitalism in it s conflict over what Rand saw as the oppressive and ultimately destructive forces of large government type societies you, know.socialism, fascism, etc It s usually stuck on the butt end of a car to express general disenchantment with big government, and a lack of heroes Now you know, so go read something worthwhile, and if you insist on reading Ayn Rand, hit her non fiction Stripped of an attempt at storytelling, she doesn t do half bad. This book, as much as I detest it, is actually rather useful Those who have read it tend to be those whom I most especially desire to avoid Because those who have read it are invariably proud of the fact ostentatiously so it is even easier for me to keep my life free and clear of delusional egomaniacs Thank you Ayn Rand. As Ayn Rand s immortal opus, Atlas Shrugged, stands as a tome to a philosophy that is relevant today as it was in her time Basically, the major moral theme is that there are two types of people in the world the Creators and the Leeches.The Creators are the innovators who use the power of their will and intelligence to better humanity The first person to create fire is often referenced as the paradigm for these people In the book, each of the major protagonists also represent Creators improving the human condition with their force of will.The Leeches my word are the people who create nothing, but thrive off feeding on the Creators In Rand s view, they are the bureaucrats, politicos, regulators, etc Throughout human history she tells us, these people have benefited through no ingenuity of their own, but merely from piggybacking on and often fettering the success of the Creators.Where the conflict in this book arises is when the Creators decide they have had enough and revolt I won t spoil the book by describing specifics, but let s just say it causes quite the societal drama For Leeches can t feed where there s no blood.All that is fairly significant and involved and worth the read to begin with, but where this book really stimulates me is in the fact that it is still relevant Today we have Creators and we have Leeches Some titans of industry and technology move our culture forward and others hold it back to their own benefit I work in Silicon Valley and I see this all the time That s why in many ways I consider this voluminous novel to be as important to a business education as Art of War.To cite other readers posts, you don t have to agree with what Rand is extolling, but I think you d be foolish to try and deny the existence of this struggle since it is ingrained in humanity Yes, Ayn does get long winded and arrogant in parts as she draws the battle lines, but I don t think an author could have crafted such a powerful conflict without copious quantities of ego to accentuate the differences. Absolutely terrible.Imagine an analogous situation A white supremacist writes a book in which all the white characters are great and all the black characters are awful If you were to read that book and as a result buy into white supremacy that would make you an utter utter fool.And yet, Rand writes a book where anyone who is a raging capitalist is a veritable super hero and anyone who pauses for half a second to consider that maybe such a system is sub optimal is a sniveling lunatic and lo, the mindless prols think it s a masterpiece and a template for how the world should be run.The most annoying book I have ever read. I was visiting an old friend for the past few days, and she showed me this cover of Atlas Shrugged I made for her when we lived in Ukraine image error This book really makes you take a good hard look at yourself and your behavior, which is why I think a lot of people don t like this book It s a lecture and most people don t like to get lectured I loved it It gave me a good swift kick in the ass While I ve never been a looter, I have made several irrational decisions in my life, which this 1000 page lecture has helped me to stop doing It teaches you to think with your mind, rather than your heart It doesn t make you an uncaring person You still feel with your heart, but you think with your mind Use your mind instead of expecting to get the rewards of others who do all the thinking If everyone did this, the world would be perfect that is the idea behind Ayn s story Of course, this will never happen Ayn knew that She just wrote a story about her ideal world A lot of authors do that No need to get pissed off at her because of it.Yes, the book is wordy, but her words are genius in my opinion I loved the long radio speech Skip it if you are hating the book or better yet, stop reading it Go out and smell the flowers instead Is the story black and white Definitely Authors have different styles people complain If every author wrote in the same style, people would complain I can t tell you how many co workers I ve met who complain about how the CEO is making so much money and they should get some of that money Well, go to college, get a business degree and work you re way up the corporate ladder if you want the CEO s salary Don t sit around and expect those kinds of rewards because you work in accounts payable You know what it takes, so do it and shut up If it wasn t for the person who created this company, you wouldn t even have a job I m an administrative assistant making less money than the people complaing about wanting money It just makes me sick But the people in Ayn s story didn t work for money They loved their jobs And she wasn t saying you had to be a rich, corporate big shot to hold the world up There were teachers and stay at home moms in her little world in the mountains.Ayn has extremely valuable points and if you are someone who is constantly looking for something to criticize in every book, then don t read it If you can t handle looking at your imperfections, don t read it If you have an open mind and are willing to learn something from every book and experience you have and grow as a person, then you will benefit from reading this book. Ayn Rand s characters are almost completely defined by the extent to which they embrace her beliefs A good guy by definition is someone who agrees with her a bad guy someone who dares to have a different point of view For all the lip service Rand pays to individualism, she brooks no dissent from her heroes none of her so called individualists ever expresses a point of view significantly different from hers.To illustrate the gulf between Rand s characters and human reality, consider this behavior When Dagny Taggart meets Hank Rearden, she dutifully becomes his property, for no other reason than that he s the most Randian male around When John Galt arrives, ownership of the prize female transfers from Rearden to Galt, because Galt is the Randian of the two Does it ever occur to Hank to be resentful or jealous Does Taggart experience loyalty or regret Might Taggart love Rearden despite his lesser Randness No, those are all things that human beings might feel In a related departure from reality, sex in Randland is or less indistinguishable from rape Foreplay Romance Capitalists don t have time for that commie nonsense The real focus of Atlas Shrugged is to extoll Rand s philosophy Not to debate it, since no one in Randland with any any intelligence or competence could have a different point of view About Rand s philosophy I ll just make two points which I m not going to bother providing evidence for at the moment.The first is that, like most social Darwinists, Rand fell short in her understanding of natural selection Her philosophy was largely based on the false belief that nature invariably favors individual selfishness In reality, evolution has made homo sapiens a social animal cooperation and compassion are very human traits More importantly, even if cold selfishness were man s nature in the wild, it would not necessarily follow that that would be the best way for us to behave in our semi civilized modern condition.The second point is that, contrary to Rand s belief, pure laissez faire capitalism never works it invariably leads to exploitation of the poor and middle class and to environmental catastrophe The best economic system that has ever been devised so far is a mixture of capitalism and socialism.