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.” This is a mystery story, not about the murder of a man’s body, but 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.
In ten words or less: It’s a horrible, terrible book and you should read it.
Ayn Rand’s 1168 page behemoth is listed under classics and fiction, though, I fail to understand how it fits under either genre. Atlas Shrugged is a poorly written, illogical propaganda manifesto without even a semblance of character, consistency or plot. Everything is orchestrated to serve Rand’s absurd philosophy and to deify her main hero, John Galt, a Christ-like figure who was, in fact, based on a child murderer.
Not counting infodumps, and convenient telepathy when a third-person omniscient narrator could have been an option, Rand struggles with basic concepts of good story telling such as showing not telling, foreshadowing, and in-world consistency. More crucially, her basic reading comprehension is in question. For example, I don’t think Rand had any idea what logic is.
Here a character is explaining why people won’t believe Galt:
“‘It seems to me,’ said Chick Morison, his voice tentatively helpful, ‘that people of nobler spiritual nature, you know what I mean, people of… of… well, of mystical insight’—he paused, as if waiting to be slapped, but no one moved, so he repeated firmly—’yes, of mystical insight, won’t go for that speech. Logic isn’t everything after all.'”
And here’s an excerpt of a dinner conversation:
“‘If you still want me to explain it, Mother,’ he said very quietly, ‘if you’re still hoping that I won’t be cruel enough to name what you’re pretending not to know, then here’s what’s wrong with your idea of forgiveness: You regret that you’ve hurt me and, as your atonement for it, you ask that I offer myself to total immolation.’
‘Logic!’ she screamed. ‘There you go again with your damn logic! It’s pity that we need, pity, not logic!'”
Additionally, Rand doesn’t seem to know how women work, despite having been one herself. None of her female characters—there’s a handful—come across anything more than pawns and men’s playthings. Even Dagny Taggart, the supposed heroine, is little more than a Mary Sue Magdalena to Galt’s Jesus.
Certain prominent American politicians have inhaled her ideals hook, line, and sinker and want to live out Rand’s libetarian utopia, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us should. They can’t make you. Except that they’re politicians who set policy, so in a very tangible sense they are making you.
Atlas Shrugged is a prime example of why you shouldn’t just go with the flow, and accept what people appearing smarter than you say. You should be fully aware of what you’re co-signing by proclaiming the author as one of the great thinkers of recent history. You should read the detailed racism, misogyny, and misandry Rand and her followers preach. You should read, so you can suss out when someone is just repeating what they’ve heard—or worse—genuinely believes that empathy is the cancer of humanity.
So, yes. It’s an actively offensive book, and you should read it.