This novel can be considered Ayn Rands magnum opus concerning her philosophy of Objectivism. At nearly 1200 pages, this is the largest book I have read to date. The book has had a major impact on many of its readers and after being published in 1957 continues to influence a worldwide audience. I have never been stopped so many times by strangers asking if I liked the book, telling me how much they enjoyed it, some have even told me how the book has effected their outlook, ideas, and choices made during their life. I have met new people and even developed relationships due to discussions and debates revolving around Atlas Shrugged. However, the book itself is not nearly as good as the conversations I’ve had concerning what Ayn Rand was trying to say. The novel is a stimulating look at capitalism, individuality, ethics, and morality. Nevertheless, unlike many other people I have discussed this novel with, I would not consider Atlas Shrugged one of the most important books I’ve read, or even one of the better ones. However, the book was thought provoking and a good read. I would recommend it to anyone unfamiliar with Ayn Rand or objectivism. I wouldn't, however, reccomend for light reading or entertainment.
I don’t feel like debating the merits of objectivism in this short review. I will say that being a very individualistic person to begin with, the ideas of objectivism should be very appealing, and they are when looked at broadly in the context of Atlas Shrugged (and much of Ayn Rands other writings). However, when brought into reality, I don’t believe her ideas work. Leave a message in the comments section or e-mail me if you wish to discuss this further.
The concepts related in this book are pertinent, but not sustainable in reality. The novel gets awfully preachy on the subject of objetivism and Ayn Rand’s philosophy is hammered at you continually beginning with the first chapter. I found this tiresome. I got the point. But maybe having read Fountainhead first, made the freshness of objectivism wear out quicker on me than on others. Ayn Rand, who espouses the merits of basing all decisions on reality (A is A) and practicality, uses little of either to try to prove the intrinsic worth, and value of objectivism. In a famous review of Atlas Shrugged written by Whittaker Chambers for the National Review he called it a "ferro-concrete fairy tale". Chambers noticed that despite "the impromptu and surprisingly gymnastic matings of the heroine and three of the heroes," no children ever seem to result. "The strenuously sterile world of Atlas Shrugged," he wrote, "is scarcely a place for children." Whittaker point to a perfect example of the issues I have with how Ayn Rand represents physical and “loving” relationships in the novel. A problem I had with Fountainhead as well. The characters in the novel are either beautiful, hyper-intelligent, rich gods or spineless, sniveling, evil. Flaws in Hank Reardon's character are probably what make him the most believable character. At the end of the novel, these "gods" transform themselves from rich industrialists to a highly trained para-military SWAT team. Throwing reality and practicality out the window also allowed the author to incorporate a 100 page diatribe advocating her “only way to save the world” philosophy in case you didn’t get it within the first 1000 pages.
They kept their secret from the knowledge of others, not as a shameful guilt, but as a thing that was immaculately theirs, beyond anyone’s right of debate or appraisal. She knew the general doctrine on sex, held by people in one form or another, the doctrine that sex was an ugly weakness of man’s lower nature, to be condoned regretfully. She experienced an emotion of chastity that made her shrink, not from the desires of her body, but from any contact with the minds who held this doctrine.