Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand's greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatizes her unique philosophy through an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex. Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of…
Why read it?
8 authors picked Atlas Shrugged as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
I first read Ayn Rand’s seminal work Atlas Shrugged when I was a teenager, and it opened my eyes to the dangers of totalitarianism. I re-read it this year because the events I remember so vividly from the book are terrifyingly prescient of what is happening today.
The heroine, Dagny Taggart, runs a railroad, and society is crumbling under the weight of simultaneous government oppression of productive citizens and the laissez-faire attitude toward crime and corruption. She battles the huge, restrictive bureaucracy while around her, brilliant scientists, engineers, etc., are disappearing.
She hears rumors of a secret place where the…
This book was a forerunner and inspiration to the big society science fiction of the John Brunner era, and (like much of her writing) should properly be understood as an alternative reality science fiction, imitated by many writers including Brunner and Robert Silverberg.
Rand became a controversial figure because of the cult that grew up around her, promoting elitist ideas, and driven mainly by her husband. Yet Rand herself was a brilliant writer and thinker who wanted to be a philosopher. The writing is not only deeply intellectual, it was deeply character driven.
As a non-native English speaker, her writing…
It isn’t often that a book written a long time ago would be one of my recommendations. Atlas Shrugged is a compelling story of what our world could become if political forces collide along the way. In Rand's piece she pits Capitalism against Socialism through the eyes of Railroad executive Dagny Taggart and Steel Magnet, Hank Rearden. It is an extraordinary piece of literature that will leave you questioning if it was written as a warning of where our current-day societies are headed. A long read, but well worth your time.
If you can answer the question “Who is John Galt?” a recommendation for Ayn Rand’s epic novel Atlas Shrugged isn’t necessary. Putting aside the Libertarian and Objectivist political movements her novel inspired, at its core the true hero of Atlas Shrugged is not Galt, but the female lead Dagny Taggart. Written in 1957, long before the women’s movement of the 60s, Taggart is and remains the most inspirational woman character of all generations then and now.
Dagny Taggart is an epic protagonist who must use her mind to transcend the intellectual fog blanketing her world that is disintegrating from misguided values. Hauntingly contemporary considering the novel’s publication in 1957, she is surrounded by people who hold philosophies that encourage collectivism and irrationality. She has to trust her own insights to transcend the truisms of her day. Instead of propping up those who don’t deserve her heroic efforts, she lets go of what people tell her she should be doing to instead create an individual life worthy of her respect. The intellectual sweep of this novel is…
Nearly every economic problem would be fixed if we adhered to the concepts in Rand’s book. Written as fiction, the work tackles the downsides of ever-increasing governmental overreach, and how standing with your rigid principles is more important than ever with all the looters and moochers around nowadays.
The work goes on to explain that money is not the root of all evil, it is the root of all production. According to The US Library of Congress, Atlas Shrugged is the second-most influential book of all time (after The Bible).
This book is a large, difficult, preachy novel. Its characters are not very complex—most are either very good (and handsome) or very evil (and ugly). It moves slowly, with long, repetitive speeches intertwined with the story that slow it down further. Yet I recommend it because the concepts are so important, and the story and characters have come to symbolize the beautiful progress of capitalism and the ugly regression of crony capitalism. This is not an easy or necessarily enjoyable read, but it is an important one.
I am an entrepreneur. I am exceedingly proud of being profitable for 23 years. I believe I deserve these profits and profits are moral because they are derived from providing true value. At the core of my value system, however, is not profit per se but integrity in my personal and business dealing; These are not two different moral systems. Rand’s defense of freedom is the most important moral statement of our times. It is the reason I don’t work in China, for example. Rand’s philosophy is often demonized by those who justify force to achieve “desirable” goals. Those who…
Our community of 9,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like Atlas Shrugged.