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on 12 July 2011
I started reading this book several years ago. It's not a page turner, or a book that you read a few pages of before going to sleep every night. Because of the very long chapters I only wanted to read it when I really had the time to sit down and read without interruption. Now, a few years later, I've finished it, with mixed feelings.

I didn't particularly enjoy it, but I'm glad to have read it. I'm not going to discuss Rand's philosophy other than to say that it has its merits and its flaws. It provides lots of food for thought. But let's not forget that this is a novel, and as a novel, "Atlas Shrugged" doesn't work. It is way too long and contrived. Rand has so much she wants to say she introduces a whole arsenal of minor characters and subplots to get her message across, often the same message time and time again, and it gets very tiresome. There's character development in the heroes, especially Dagny Taggard and Hank Rearden, but the "bad guys" are for the most part caricatures (Jim taggart seems a bit less one dimensional than the rest), sometimes making it hard to remember who's who.

As I said, I'm glad to have read it. I wouldn't advice against reading "Atlas Shrugged" but I'm also not quite sure I'd recommend it. I really had to force myself to finish it. Much of the philosophy of "Atlas Shrugged" is presented in the smaller non-fiction volume "The Virtue of Selfishness", a much quicker read for sure.
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on 24 July 2008
movie-schmovie. Read Atlas Shrugged when you're in college, when you're starting your first firm, when you're escaping the corporate world later in life... you'll get a very different experience each time. But read it you must.. sure it's long and, at times, very heavy handed. Many of the characters seem to be charachtiures to me, 30 years since my first exposure. But you haven't lived, or exercised your brain in sufficient dimenions, unless you've read Atlas Shrugged. THEN hate it or love it or simply respect it--great compelling reading, interesting philosophy and ultimately as bedrock classic 20th century literature as it comes.
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on 26 May 2003
It must be said that Ayn Rand's fiction is not subtle. Her characters and situations should really be taken as cyphers used to illustrate her philosophy, Objectivism, rather than literary devices as we usually understand them. I would also be the first to say that Atlas Shrugged is far, far too long and could have done with some heavy editing. The same points are made again and again and at greater and greater length. The word prolix springs to mind. Many times.
Having said that the philosophy which Ayn Rand is aiming to illustrate in her fiction is a wonderful breath of fresh air. It's core - that the voluntary association of free individuals will produce the greatest economic benefits and greatest freedom for all - gives you hope (and some intellectual ammunition) when confronted with the false dichotomy of conservatism and socialism in modern political debate. Atlas Shrugged is also a perfect illustration of how centrist economic thinking leads to disastrous, albeit unintended, consequences.
The thing I always take away from Ayn Rand's books is how wonderful it is to be left alone to determine the course of my life according to my own values. Something else the various politicos, bureaucrats, "activists" and co. would do well to heed. Despite it's rubbery prose style Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for all MPs and the senior civil service. If it was we'd all be a lot better off, financially and intellectually.
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on 24 March 2013
A very interesting and thought provoking book. Every reader will get from it what they will wish to get from it: as can be seen from the nature of some of the other reviews. If there is one message which I have taken from this book, it is that I cannot and should not tell anybody what they should think about this book.
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on 6 December 2014
These issues are just as relevant today, in fact more so. The whole so-called Public Sector are looters. Taxation plucks those who produce like turkeys at Christmas.
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on 19 October 2013
I just wish I had discovered Ayn Rand 20 years ago. As relevant now as it was when first published (Starnsville = Detroit!) Atlas, Shows us the creeping danger of allowing the liberal elite to convince us that 'they know best'. This book is a wake up call for all who value freedom and self determination.
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on 29 November 2016
Stick with the monologues, don't rush past the lessons! Rand can extend unnecessarily at times but it's very clear it's because the work is her mind on paper
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on 22 August 2015
Th book arrived, but, as expected, the cover was a bit grubby and tatty, but the pages are intact and there is no problem to be able to read it clearly.
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on 30 December 2005
I recently read this book, and I have one word to say.
Atlas Shrugged is the first book I have read by Ayn Rand, and I was thoroughly impressed. It took me over a month to read, and I enjoyed every moment of it. This book really makes you rethink your values and philosophy and wonder about their origin. Yes, I agree with the other reviews that the characters lacked a certain amount of depth, but I believe that the content of the book, the unusual philosophy expressed, and the severe emotion it inspires within the reader makes up for this. Throughout the book, there are parts that create such a strong emotional bond to the characters that you don't realize that they are so firm in their values they are unrealistic. It is for this reason that I believe that this book deserves a 5 out of 5.
To those of you that do not agree with her philosophy or are pro-communism or whatever else and feel that this book would just anger you, or that you would hate the book because of the ideas expressed in it: Read it anyway. This book is something you should read, not to convert you, but to reveal the arguments for such ideas. The book is, to me, an enjoyable one whether you agree with her or not.
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on 24 March 2005
And I mean it.
This is without doubt the most influential, satisfying, life-changing book I have ever read, and I've read a lot.
I've heard this book called unrealistic, its characters two-dimensional and without depth, its philosophy clownish, OK for juveniles and the socially inadequate perhaps, but not to be taken seriously by adults, who after all must live in the "real" world.
The real world. Now let's see... Half of what you earn is taken by force to be used either to feed, clothe and house the mainly idle and feckless or to employ more faceless deskmen to pass more regulations restricting you in your attempts to earn a living. Defending your property and loved ones from burglary by most probably these same idle and feckless can earn you a jail sentence. Your property? What property? When a council can tax whatever arbitrary sum they dream up and you have to pay it, who really owns the property, which you've paid for, by the way? A world where if you're old and ill and admitted into a state-run hospital (you can't afford anything else by that time, they've been stealing all your money, remember) it is only to die, not from your condition, but some superbug infection caused by the surrounding insanitary filth. A world where increasingly it seems you're committing a terrible crime by driving a car...
Those are just a few small examples, but you get the idea. So, what has that got to do with this book? Everything. In fact, what is this book, which for 50-plus years has engendered such fierce debate and has so many enthusiastic defenders and ferocious detractors, really about? Again the answer is everything. Everything of importance anyway, from the motivation behind building a monumental business empire to the choice of a sexual partner. Whether or not you agree with everything in this book is up to you, it's your choice. But you see, THAT is the point.
Ayn Rand's philosophy is most of all pro-individual, and by extension pro-capitalist, capitalism being the only economic system which acknowledges the freedom of the individual.
Crucially, she also states categorically in the book that all material wealth exists only because of the great spiritual wealth that first envisaged it. Indeed this is a key recurrent theme.
It's rather like the early history of America: one minute deserts and virtually empty plains, the next cities, trade and the greatest outpouring of wealth mankind has ever seen. What brought about such a huge exertion of effort and energy, such foresight, enthusiasm and ingenuity? The promise of wealth, and the freedom to pursue it.
Atlas Shrugged celebrates that, and identifies what went wrong and is going wrong today. Not realistic? There are incidents in there that are uncannily parallel to current events.
The book is an inspiration. If I'm working, and find my concentration drifts or I get a bit bored with what I'm doing and am tempted to do a shoddy job, I think of Francisco d'Anconia, and I'm focused and alert once more. When I think that maybe a goal I've set myself might be too hard, and maybe I should forget it, I think of Hank Rearden, and in a moment I'm pursuing it like the very devil. That's why this book is so great, not only for its scope, range and vision, but even for its most criticised aspect(excluding the sizable minority who dislike its philosophy, of which there are two types: those chronically bored drones who don't understand it, and, more damningly, those tin pot would-be politicians who blast it to heaven) which is its standing as a work of art.
Ayn Rand herself said what art was supposed to be. She often defined terms which most people don't even think about. She was clear-minded and very much on the ball that way, an extremely powerful thinker and intellect. Anyway, she said that the purpose of art was to renew the mind and spirit, to give a "lift", to draw from the individual experiencer an affirmation, a sense of value recognition, a "yes". The feeling that "I can understand something of what the creator of that piece felt when creating it." See, appreciating art is all about emotion, but the highest emotion comes from "the finest discernment of the mind". And emotion is closely linked to energy. To renew one is to renew the other. Look at Michelangelo's David or hear Bob Marley and feel refreshed.
Anyhow, what I'm trying to say is: Read this book. To all those of you who might read these reviews before deciding to spend time with a book, I say again: Read THIS book.
I believe many of you who do just that will thank me.
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