Customer Reviews


186 Reviews
5 star:
 (95)
4 star:
 (35)
3 star:
 (15)
2 star:
 (11)
1 star:
 (30)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


94 of 105 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Thought Provoking but Overlong
This novel hardly needs a review to encourage someone to buy it, when you consider one point alone: It is over 50 years old and people still read it and enjoy it. It is a classic and nothing I can say can detract from that.

But it is also a product of its time, espousing a philosophy that is only internally consistent if one makes rather more assumptions than...
Published on 19 Mar 2009 by Sir Furboy

versus
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Clarion call of a bygone era
Perhaps the most significant book in post-war American literature, one which has regained popularity since the start of the economic crisis, Altas Shrugged is the embodiment of an ideal society, the ultimate vehicle for Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism. Weighing in at over 1,000 pages of tightly-packed print, it's also one of the longest novels in English literature...
Published 22 months ago by Felix Valencia


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

94 of 105 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, Thought Provoking but Overlong, 19 Mar 2009
By 
Sir Furboy (Aberystwyth, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Atlas Shrugged (Paperback)
This novel hardly needs a review to encourage someone to buy it, when you consider one point alone: It is over 50 years old and people still read it and enjoy it. It is a classic and nothing I can say can detract from that.

But it is also a product of its time, espousing a philosophy that is only internally consistent if one makes rather more assumptions than the author admits to. The characters all speak with Ayn Rand's voice, in a manner that might be familiar to readers of Galileo perhaps, but not so much with readers of a good modern novel. The characters feel unreal. The whole setting is preposterously unreal, and here is a novel that would have been better set in an alternate universe of a science fiction writer, in the manner - say - of Philip Dick's "The Man in the High Castle". Perhaps that was her intent in fact, but she gives us no anchor into the world she is describing and the action of the novel dances across an empty stage.

For anyone seeking rich characterizations, realistic interactions, or a sense of place in the narrative, you will be disappointed in this novel. The novel is merely the platform for Rand's polemic, and jumps from unbelievable to the preposterous without apology.

This being said, it was still a jolly good read. The conflict in the novel is engrossing and draws you in quickly. The first time someone defeats a "looter government", you want to applaud. When Dagny (the protaganist) completes a railway line against all the odds you can feel her exhilieration - even if you wonder how she managed it! The concept of the plot is refreshingly original, and readers will want to finish the novel.

Given its length though, finishing can be tricky - especially where it comes to a 90 page speech espousing Rand's epistemology. Some aspects of the plot were also tiring, and one wonders whether the book could have achieved its purpose whilst being edited a little. Ok, the 90 page speech was probably why she wrote the book - but perhaps Rand forgets the maxim here: "show don't tell"

Ultimately though, the book's philosophy suffers for being the product of an age that does not exist any longer. Marxism is a target of Rand's polemic, but also social programmes that have clearly worked and brought tremendous benefit to the world (including the US), such as the Marshal plan. At the same time, she defends a world of producer industrialists that largely no longer exist now, and rather misses the point that invention in our modern world is hardly the preserve of big business (even if only businesses have the resources to patent their inventions). I could say more on this, but this is a review - not a critique, so I will stop!

I give the book 4 stars despite all this criticism, because I do not regret having read it. I enjoyed it, I thought about it, I disagree with a good deal of it, but I do not regret it. Neither will you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dagny Taggart and her three lovers: Copper, Steel and Gold, 31 Mar 2013
By 
Nicholas J. R. Dougan "Nick Dougan" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Atlas Shrugged may be the most demanding work of literature I have read since university. It is certainly the only novel since then for which I have also bought a reader, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companionfiftieth anniversary collection of essays, and it is only now, having finished that, that I am turning to writing a review. At about 1,200 pages (always a bit hard to tell from a Kindle edition) it is also, give or take the occasional "space opera", the longest work I've read for a long time. So: was it worth it?

Arguably this is a work of fiction that is more germane today that it ever was. In a month where the government of one European state, Cyprus, exercised a "levy" thought to be over 40% on investors with over 100,000 on deposit, it's worth considering Rand's depiction of the causes and effects of state-backed "looting and mooching". While I find it surprising, 55 years on, that she could have seen the seeds of such statist decadence in the US of the 1940s and 1950s, the New Deal notwithstanding, there is no doubt that the European Union would have represented, to Rand, an (un)worthy successor to the Soviet Union as the archetype of a well meaning but ultimately corrupting and self-defeating super-state. Every day the news abounds with stories of government spending tax payers' money because they feel that "something must be done", or perhaps just that they feel that they ought to be seen to be doing something. Rand was clear: the best thing government can do is stick to maintaining freedom through the rule of law, and then by getting (the hell) out of individuals' way.

I doubt that anyone reads Atlas Shrugged today without knowing that they are reading a philosophical novel from a right wing, more or less libertarian perspective. There are those who claim that it is a great novel in its own right. While few would argue that works of fiction achieve greatness without giving us insights into some profound aspects of the human condition, few if any literary contenders focus so exclusively on the socio-economic and political facets. The narrative is interesting, it's exciting (although it could probably have been more exciting had it been shorter) and the imagery is arresting. Dagny Taggart is without doubt a compelling female role-model. My enjoyment may have been prejudiced a little by the knowledge that every character had been created to represent a particular viewpoint, and I may have spent too long trying to work out what they were, but I can't help thinking that the storyline suffers from all the characters being archetypes.

Characters tend to be either heroic or contemptuously villainous, and there's a distinct white hat/black hat feel to them, made all the more obvious by Rand's unsubtle use of physical attractiveness as a key to character. Perhaps this was the Hollywood screenwriter in her. The heroes are physically attractive while the baddies are ugly. Dagny's brother, James Taggart, the worst sort of pork barrel businessman, is first described as having "a small, petulant mouth, and thin hair clinging to a bald forehead". Dangy's three lovers, by contrast, Copper magnate Francisco D'Anconia, steel foundry owner Hank Reardon, and the inventor and philosopher John Galt, suffer only from being just too heroic, too near to godlike to make entirely believable characters. It's hard to develop empathy with an archetype, and I found only Dagny herself to be truly engaging.

Atlas Shrugged was the last work of fiction that Ayn Rand wrote. I suspect that after this book, and The Fountainhead that preceded it (by 14 years) she no longer needed to worry about money, and she devoted herself to developing her philosophy of "Objectivism" in non-fiction works. I can't say that I found it entirely easy to glean what objectivism was about from the novel alone (Younkins' reader has gone some way to plugging the gap since). Suffice to say that hers is a harsh and elitist philosophy, in which 99% of humanity could at best aspire to be the loyal "common man" represented by Dagny's right hand man, Eddie Willers.

John Galt's credo, and presumably therefore Rand's own, is "I swear by my life and for my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine." While one may admire the entrepreneurialism, drive and personal responsibility of Rand's entrepreneurs, I do find her blanket condemnation of altruism misplaced. She appears to discourage personal altruism, not just state-backed, taxpayer-funded altruism. Does she condemn the Rockefellers, the Carnegies and now the Buffetts and the Gates for giving much of their fortunes to aid others? Is it not part of our role and our worth as human beings to look after other members of our "tribe"? Certainly, contemporary genetic theory from the likes of Steve Jones seems to suggest so. Credo: we should all be prepared to live a little of our lives for the sake of others.

As far as specifically ebook related comment on this Kindle edition, it's pretty good from what was probably a scan of a printed version, with a singular but oft repeated error that a small amount of proof reading would have fixed: every time the letter "a" follows a capital W, and some other letters too, it too was rendered as a capital. The frequently visited Wayne-Falkland hotel was rendered every time as the "WAy ne-Falkland". Amusing in a way, but distracting.

This is a book I feel sure that I will re-read again in the future, and I may yet read some of Rand's non-fiction. Great work that it is, however, this is not a book that I feel I can award 5 stars, but it's certainly worth reading - even if you don't fully understand, or feel you entirely like, all aspects of Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Clarion call of a bygone era, 17 Oct 2012
Perhaps the most significant book in post-war American literature, one which has regained popularity since the start of the economic crisis, Altas Shrugged is the embodiment of an ideal society, the ultimate vehicle for Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism. Weighing in at over 1,000 pages of tightly-packed print, it's also one of the longest novels in English literature. Is it any good?

Well, as a novel, Atlas Shrugged unfortunately falls flat, in ways that Rand's first novel, We the Living (Penguin Modern Classics), didn't. There is foremost no humanity in the novel, the characters are dismembered, dessicated mouthpieces to Rand's philosophical diatribes, with everyone fitting neatly into 'good' and 'bad' camps. Rand herself claimed that using characters as symbols was never her intention: "My characters are persons in whom certain human attributes are focused more sharply and consistently than in average human beings." But what we are left with are flimsy apparitions, lobotomised automatons fulfilling the roles required of them to extol the virtues of her philosophy. Even this is taken to extremes, with one of the proponents delivering a 60-page long theoretical speech around which the rest of the novel might well be seen as scaffolding.

To complement this set of lifeless characters is a plot which similarly confounds understanding. In an America which technologically resembles the period in which Rand was writing, yet industrially feels set in an earlier period, and borrows heavily from the Great Depression, the main events and the decisions of the characters jar heavily with what the reader knows and expects from society. As another reviewer pointed out, what's missing is the overt understanding that the story takes place in a parallel world or a different timeframe, to create a genuine sense of credibility. True, there are some hints that push this novel into the realms of science fiction--a super metal alloy, power derived from static electricity, weapons based on sound waves etc.--but the world is definitely our own, even if the people and their decisions are alien. Key to the story is the gradual collapse of the economic system, and the disappearance of the champions of industry. What happens in Rand's universe when the creative minds of the world go on strike? Apparently, they settle down on the frontier and, working one month a year, create a fully-fledged miniature utopia. Personally, I imagine they'd starve.

A bad book can still be a good delivery vehicle for an interesting message. Yet this unwieldy book fails even to achieve the latter. For its mammoth length, Rand's message could have been relatively concise, but for the plot's repetitiveness. If you are interested in Rand's philosophy, there are plenty of other places to turn which will provide a far more succinct and detailed explanation, without the repetition or padding necessary for its delivery in novel form. Whether you find place for Rand's philosophy in your own, or like Gore Vidal consider it "nearly perfect in its immorality", there are simply better summaries available. For the converted, this is probably a wonderful book, but for anyone else it simply isn't worth risking the investment of time and energy.

No one can deny this book's enduring popularity. That alone gives rise to curiosity strong enough to keep it fresh in the public consciousness. But it is a far cry from a great piece of literature, and as an allegory, a philosophical harbinger, its ponderous and verbose nature should have the curious turn elsewhere. The novel opens with the question: "Who is John Galt?" A thousand pages of largely disappointing text will reveal the answer, but you'd be better served just reading the appendix.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Started off well but the plot became ridiculous, 26 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Started off well and set the reader up with an understanding of the characters and an interesting story that made you want to read more, you want to know what is going to happen next and you want to know what will happen to the characters. The political views and philosophy of the author are obvious and incorporated into the plot and characters however the story becomes ridiculous in trying to force that view of the world, two thirds of the way through the book the plot looses touch with reality and goes to far and as such I skim read the last parts.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


99 of 122 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but better to wait for the movie., 23 April 2007
Atlas Shrugged is a 1100 page(small print!) novel in which 4 or 5 people stride about like nationalistic heroes building railroads, inventing things, and being proud of it; while the rest of the world mooches off them and complain that the industrialists have too much money.

Even though I'm a liberal, I have to admit this book was interesting. It's like a dystopian novel for capitalists (God knows how many there are for socialists). The ideas are challenging and thought-provoking whoever you are, and the writing is pretty nice, Rand obviously put a lot of energy into the book.

But it's pretty clunky, the plot goes on so many boring tangents, the love scenes are ridiculous, the characters are uninteresting, and most of all it's too repetitive. A quarter of the way through the book I was already familiar with all aspects of Rand's philosophy, and I could tell precisely where the book was going, so reading it felt like a bit of a chore, especially since I never skim pages.

If you're an anti-union, hardcore capitalist then buy the book and revel in it, but if you're not, then wait for the expected movie, with Angelina Jolie coming out in 2008.

I gave this a 4 because the people who would like this would love it, and it's quite a novelty to read a writer who isn't a liberal/socialist/hedonist/romantic/bum.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Some brilliance, some sickness, 3 May 2014
I read three hundred pages or so, and then I decided I wouldn't read any more of it. The description of a collapsing society is brilliantly done, and has so many parallels with the socialist, liberal governments of the west today. The way Rand shows heroic industrialist geniuses being blighted by moronic, politically correct liberal fools is stunning at times. She reveals the flaws of the modern age powerfully. However, her answer to the problem she diagnoses, is a failure.

It was her view of people and sexuality which made me decide to stop reading. Rand applies the same strict materialistic view of economics to all human relationships, sexuality, and indeed the soul. It is a sick description and utterly misses the point of why society needs free enterprise and unhampered industry and small, small government in the first place. Not to function like machines, but as free people, able to worship God, have meaning, have purpose.

Rand crushes the liberal, atheistic post-modern view, yet then replaces it with an inspiration destroying atheism of her own. She misses the point. She diagnoses the problem, but gives a solution just as crippling.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Starts well but increasingly becomes little more than a vehicle for a political rant, 30 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a very long book, over 1200 pages. The first half is intriguing, well-written and very well structured. The second half is still structured but even those appearing somewhat heroic in the earlier part of the book increasingly lost my sympathy until there was nothing attractive left about the characters or the political philosophy they espoused. What finally killed it for me was a totally inappropriate three hour political rant from one of the main characters. It became abundantly clear why it is often regarded as 'the manifesto of the Tea Party' in the USA.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book made an impact on me!, 7 Aug 2013
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Atlas Shrugged (Hardcover)
In case this is your first encounter with this book, It is a fresh story but a continuation to Ayn Rand's philosophy that started out with books like "We the living" where she new something was wrong but could not put her finger on it. She progressed to books as "The Fountainhead" where she could describe the problem quite well. Now in "Atlas Shrugged she has come up with a plausible answer to the problem. In essence your head can work without your hands yet your hands can not work without your head.

The story is not unique but it still holds you attention. The world is becoming more socialized and it is harder for individuals to make an impact without having a multitude of parasites on their back. Some chose to fight, others chose to ignore; some do not have a clue as to what is happening. The world seems to be gearing down is just coincidence or is there some one taking a hand in it. "Who is John Galt?"

I can tell you of my experience with the book. I must have been a late bloomer or just unlucky, because I did not come across "Atlas shrugged" until I was 20 years old. I was in the military and needed some reading material. My younger sister sent me the book. It looks just a little thick to me but I started reading, and reading and reading. I do not know if it was the story or the clarity of thought. Now I saw everything in a new or different light. It felt weird to see the newspapers and politics paralleling the book.

I was in New York (West Point) at the time and three things stood out to this day. This was a public service announcement on the TV "The law says that an apartment owner can not charge more than 30% of what you make" and at the same time the apartment buildings were closing down. The postal carriers went on strike and the military had to deliver the mail. That winter the snowplow drivers went on strike. When the strike was over the snowplows were missing. They found them the next summer in an empty lot.

There is nothing quite as convincing as watching the world and book parallel each other. I have mellowed out some lately. However, I really think that this book should be read by high school age where it would have maximum impact of one's train of thought.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dense but flows, 11 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was a hard piece of work, over a 1000 pages. The story keeps it going, but it was hard work in a couple of places. As a political, or philosophical work it has its place, I can see why it might be a darling of some on the right in America, and the characters do draw you in, but I do wonder whether she needs all those pages to say so much. An Orwell or Hemmingway could have said so much more in a 100 pages. I will read more of her work having read this, but I know I will have to concentrate to make the most of it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Vastly over-rated, 24 Oct 2012
I approached Atlas Shrugged with great expectations, after having become familiar with Ayn Rand's reputation. What a let-down! This work is vastly over-rated for the following reasons (if not others as well):
1. The basic philosophical and social arguments are simple and could have been developed effectively in a short story. They certainly did not need to be repeated through 800+ pages.
2. The character development is simplistic to say the least, with everyone divided into heroes, victims or looters.
3. Each type of character spouts the same speech ad nauseam, according to their category of character.
4. Ayn Rand doesn't even spare the poor "five and dime" shop worker,Cherryl, from speechifying. I laughed out loud when I read the high-flown speech attributed to Cherryl (right before her accidental death). Even Rand has to qualify this speech as words that Cherryl would have thought -- presumably if she had been cast as a hero, instead of an almost-hero.
5. We have to suffer through endless descriptions of the tightening and loosening of characters' facial muscles, as each gets ready to suppress a smirk or hide their pain. Enough already!
6. The sun is always rising or setting and casting appropriate light or gloom over the scene, as though Nature is in sympathy with the long-suffering heroes.
7. When we finally see a glimpse of Atlantis, the new home of the heroes, it is remarkable that there are hardly any women there, other than our heroine Dagny. How is this model society supposed to survive and thrive with only male heroes present? Will these heroes teach their precious skills to their sons and daughters, if any?
8. Why do the heroes all come from dysfunctional families? Why do they not experience any loving relationships with other humans? Why don't they have any children? Despite being such vaunted "doers" and "inventors," sadly they remain one-dimensional speech-makers.
9. Ayn Rand apparently had little understanding of warm human relationships built on honest emotion. Her heroine Dagny bounces from physical "love" / "worship" for one hero to another, aware only of physical or mystical attraction. How can anyone credibly claim to dedicate their life and love to someone whom they've never met (Galt), only idealized in an overly cerebral personal life?
10. Finally, I am personally horrified that such a deficient piece of literature should be routinely presented to high-school students in the US. Is it not surprising that impressionable youngsters should come away with the idea that the (American) world is divided into only two categories "winners" and "losers?"
Ah-ha, note to self: Maybe this philosophy explains the unethical behaviors of businesspeople associated with the collapse of Enron, Arthur Andersen, the US mortgage industry, Wall Street banks, and even perhaps the disgraceful response to Hurricane Katrina?
In conclusion, this is the most over-rated book I have encountered in a long life of reading.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews