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Atlas Shrugged (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 1 Feb 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 270 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1184 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Updated edition (1 Feb. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141188936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188935
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 5.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (270 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

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.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a Marmite book, you will either be cheering on John Galt, Dagny Taggart and Henry Reardon - or you will not. This is a story set in the dystopian future that pits the world's inventors, entrepreneurs and free thinkers against those that seek to thwart them by misappropriating their invention, ideas and wealth. These people are labelled as 'looters' - invariably, this is Big Government seeking to take the proceeds from their success and subjugate them for the 'greater good'.

When people begin to mysteriously disappear, government concern turns to panic as John Galt's fanciful prophesy looks like it is going to come true.

It is a lengthy read, longer than War and Peace and it weaves a story from many strands beautifully to its inevitable conclusion. Rand's characters are consistent, her command of the English language is fantastic, it is precision writing that flows very well.

Personally, I enjoyed the book immensely, it was written at a time when Hayek's Road to Serfdom and Orwell's vision of the future were vivid in the minds of the public as was Europe's embrace of socialism and the USSR's menace was becoming increasingly apparent.

It is a book of its time but remarkably prescient in the backdrop of socialised losses in the wake of the 2007-8 banking crisis and subsequent global recession.

Regardless of politics, this book will challenge your view of yourself and those around you, either to reject it or perhaps see things in a different way. Very few works of fiction have that power and that makes this book one of the best works of the 20th century.
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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.
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Format: 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.
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