Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Recommended for: people interested in philosophy and economics

Teaser quote:
"It's a moral imperative, universally conceded in our day and age, that every man is entitled to a job". His voice rose: "I'm entitled to it!"
"You are? Go on, then, collect your claim."
"Collect your job. Pick it off the bush where you think it grows."
"I mean - "
"You mean that it doesn't? You mean that you need it, but can't create it? You mean that you are entitled to a job which I must create for you?"
"And if I don't?"

My rating: 4/5

My thoughts:
The title, Atlas Shrugged, refers to Atlas from Greek mythology who fought with the Titans in the war against the deities of Mount Olympus. As punishment, he was condemned to bear forever on his back the earth and the heavens and on his shoulders the great pillar that separates them. What would happen to the world if Atlas, a metaphor for the creators & innovators of today, were to stop?

Published over 50 years ago and yet it is still relevant today. It is a story about a railroad company struggling in a crumbling U.S. economy that is made worse by the restrictions imposed by the government. In turn, the government blames the free market and greed and imposes more controls, hindering the economy even more.

A main premise of the story was to defend Capitalism not just for it's economic benefits but for its social morality. Leechers take earnings from people who have earned it. Moochers, a form of leecher, demand others earnings on behalf of the needy playing on guilt and suggesting it is their moral right to provide for those unable to earn themselves. The innovators have the burden of societies well-being forced upon them.

For years, I have been meaning to read this but I constantly put it off. At close to 1,200 pages one needs to make a commitment before picking up the book! Whether you agree with her philosophy or not, the book makes you think as she succeeds in sending a message of the importance of personal responsibility, accountability and good ol' hard work. It has the ability to change the way you look at yourself, the world around you, the society as a whole.

Click here for a chance to win a copy of Atlas shrugged.


  1. My husband is just about to finish this. Great review!

  2. This seems to be one of those books many people cite as being a life changer for them. My grandmother gave me a copy when I was in high school, and I finally got around to reading it in my early 30s. Many aspects of Ayn Rand's philosophy are repellant to me, but I see your point about self-responsibility and accountability being an important part of the message, and that's certainly a positive thing (and a much needed in our society, no doubt) And it is an influential -- and thought provoking -- book; I'm glad I read it. I enjoyed your review!

  3. I, too, have put off reading this modern-day classic. It sounds like it is incredibly relevant to today's society though.

    GREAT review!

  4. uju ~ not your cup of tea? lol. The size is rather intimidating though I'm glad I forced myself to finish it :)

    Mary ~ Thanks!

    Laughing Stars ~ thanks for posting that, definitely thought provoking. Yes, some of her ideas are too strong for me too but I like the simple message it left with me…just not sure I needed over 1,000 pages to get it, lol ;)

    Molly ~ yes, especially in our current economy - banks & the auto industry are prime examples!

  5. Yes, not only do you need to make a commitment to reading it but perhaps also some weight lifting before hand? :-)

    Great review!

  6. Mu husband and I read The Fountainhead together years ago and liked it. I've heard that this is her best one though. One of these days I hope to get to it.

  7. One of my favorite books in world. It gives a good look at what can happen when individual rights are not protected over those of the majority.

  8. Hi Mel! I have an award for you!

  9. Jackie ~ seriously! That was not fun lugging back & forth on the train to work!

    Laura ~ thanks!

    Stacy ~ I think this a book everyone should read in their lifetime. I don't necessarily agree with her black & white strong views but it makes you question a lot around you.

    Ryan ~ yes, what a moral dilemma though. This book is so full of topics to debate, I loved it. Glad you loved the book too :)

    Lisa ~ thanks :)