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 convictions. This 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.
Oh, Atlas Shrugged, why did you have to be such a daunting endeavor and yet such a tease at the same time? It took me forever to read this book and it took watching a mediocre-at-best movie of the first third of the book to really push me to finally pick it up. Once I did start reading I had a very difficult time putting it down and yet when I was finished I felt like it was everything I wanted it to be and yet had left me feeling like everything had been left open-ended.
While the book is packed full to the brim of politics and Ayn Rand’s various political views, if you don’t have the patience to think about all of the politics it’s really easy to just enjoy the story and the characters. Of course, thinking about the political views Rand is putting forward does lead to some interesting thoughts if you ask me.
There are countless important characters in Atlas Shrugged, but my favorites by a country mile are John Galt, Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, and Francisco d’Anconia. Those four drive the entire story and all of them go through massive transformations between the start and finish of the book. The relationships between the four of them are incredibly dynamic and there were many points when I really wasn’t sure if I hated or loved them, sometimes at the very same time.
The plot revolves around the collapse of the national economy, both how it happens and the impact it has on people. John Galt (my new literary hero) is the driving force behind the collapse, but not in the way you might think when you first start reading. Overall, there were some slow portions of the plot, but if you just stick with it you won’t regret the end result when you finish.
If you are interested in more details on a chapter-by-chapter basis you can check out the BRICK I did while in the process of reading.
Length: 1188 pages