Book Review: Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged is a classic science fiction book dedicated to the philosophy of objectivism. In the book, objectivism is repeatedly framed into the realization that reality exists, thoughts are real (“who am I to think that or say that”, “why do you think you think” – as Ayn Rand’s antagonists would often state), and that regardless of one’s feelings or emotions they cannot change unless one acts to change them. In fact, Atlas Shrugged is one of the two books – along with The Fountainhead, also by Ayn Rand – that put the beginning of the philosophy of objectivism.

Atlas Shrugged is not just focused on objectivism. It also resonates the American idea of limited government for the purpose of better economic achievements as well as for the purpose of economic, social and political freedom. Reading the book, the reader is given the opportunity to question his or her views on the role of government in everyday life. While not as often as objectivism, notion of which was explained above, Ayn Rand promotes – through Atlas Shrugged – her idea of the role of government – particularly limited to just policing and the courts – which, as of today, has been promoted mainly by Libertarians (and the book itself has mainly been liked by Libertarians for Democrats tend not to like it for its questioning of the role of the government while Republicans tend not to like it for its questioning of the role of religion). Atlas Shrugged is a great book for both people from the left, as well as people from the right, side of the political aisle because of its test on our belief systems regardless of whether or not we agree with Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

However, the book could have been written a lot better in order for Ayn Rand to have conveyed her message to the reader. First of all, it is unnecessarily long. It consists of three books (three parts) the second of which was completely unnecessary, for it felt like the story was in a standstill. Second of all, most of the objectivism arguments made by Ayn Rand were repeated numerous times throughout the book, including in John Galt’s long speech – around 25 pages at the end of the book – which made for an unnecessarily long and tedious story which has the potential to get even the most avid reader upset and annoyed. Another issue with the book is the unrealistically elevated confidence and capability in the protagonists to do anything and achieve what they would set themselves as a goal and are always right, as opposed to the antagonists who are always physically and mentally inferior compared to the protagonists, and cannot make any decision on their own: it is understandable, for the book is a science fiction, but it could still use some flexibility.

And, last but not least, the ending could have been a lot better: with all his expressed loyalty and his enthusiasm, Eddie Willers deserved a much better ending than leading Taggart Transcontinental until its collapse; the fate of the antagonists (also referred to as moochers), though implied, remains unclear and so is the aftermath of the protagonists’ takeover – do living conditions improve for the people or at least for the protagonists, and if yes, then by how much do they truly improve.

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