Have You Read 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand?

I read the book when I was a teenager, and it impacted how I felt about things for many years. It impacted how I felt about work ethics. It influenced how I felt about the ways we distribute goods. I studied economics in college, and had a very strong capitalist bent, even though my favorite profs were all Marxists (LOL).

My sister is reading/listening to it now and she asked me what she should look/listen for.

I struggled to recall the details. But when she started to describe Dagney’s brother, and Hank Reardon’s wife - what I realized is how much of caricature she made nearly all of her players. They were either ALL good, or ALL bad. Probably a literary tool to get your point across, and it certainly DID get her point across, but after the benefit of 40 some years of life, I sure see life as many more shades of gray than I did back then.

How about you? Have you read it? When? How old were you? Did it make an impact on you?


I was an undergraduate Literature major and I would rather have been discovered harboring an illicit love for formalist, metrical verse than to have been discovered reading Atlas Shrugged. I never read the whole thing, finding the egotism off-putting, but also because I could not trust anything so badly written. The prose reads as if had been composed by a drunk with a jackhammer. I was reading Freud & Marx, who, even in translation, are very good writers of prose. I still use passages of Freud in my advanced ESL writing classes to show how brilliantly a paragraph can be composed. The fact that you can’t remember much of it suggests that it is not very memorable in the first place, in either style or content. My advice would be to give your sister Terry Eagleton’s Why Marx Was Right. It will perhaps help disinfect her mind.

I never read it and have never had a desire to read it either.

Perhaps this was derived as a consequence of high school social studies in which it should become apparent that as one transitions from subsistence, to organized agrarian, to industrialized society that Rand’s philosophical construct basically runs counter to the inherent demands of a social system in which subject matter specialization is important for advancement (either personal or societal). That subject matter specialization runs the gamut from the factory floor to the surgical suite.

To me…, it’s akin to focusing exclusively on what I’ve built today (maybe a company, maybe just a career) and forgetting that a lot outside of me (schools, infrastructure getting me to those schools, markets created by all that organized activity, luck, and so on) contributed to that final result.

Of course, this is my take from afar…

Oh? You mean you didn’t build that? :wink:

I think that’s probably the difference today for me. I read it when I was young and idealistic, and I was sort of a blank slate about politics and government. It seemed – reasonable that those who worked hard should reap the rewards of that hard work. In college, in my early 20’s, I argued in favor of capitalism, but as I said, hung out with the Marxist professors. I talked about the farmer who saved 1/10 of this crop for seeds vs those that consumed it all, and they talked about Robber Barons and Carpet Baggers. In an ideal world, capitalism is a pretty good system. The problem is ours is not an ideal world, and the facts of the matter are that those WITH the power (read: money) get more power by virtue of the power they already have. “Them that have, get”. And with that purchased political power, they can make things uneven in their favor.


As in most domains, reality is complicated and rife with nuance.

For example, there are rough well characterized trends regarding birthrate and the ability of a developing country to make the leap to developed status. At the heart of it, this reflects the ability of a society to shift resources from subsistence to development of social infrastructure for future benefit. Arguably, China’s draconian birth policy is what has enabled them to make that leap quickly. Of course, the gender imbalance that this policy has created as a secondary consequence will persist for decades to an uncertain impact. Complicated with many levels of nuance.

On the flip side, the concentration of wealth allows things to be done that simply won’t occur in the absence of that concentration. National governments virtually assure some level of concentrated wealth to fund activities on a country wide scale to overall benefit, which is a point that small government conservatives tend to miss. To their point - the flip side is also true at some point - when too much wealth is concentrated in government hands, it’s less likely that disruptive and revolutionary technologies will get developed simply because they are disruptive.

I tried to read it in college, but found it intolerable at my developmental state at the time. I have been interested in the last couple of years to see how much I missed that many conservatives have found there to fervently believe in. This detailed look at Rand and her vision is interesting. It’s an older article but still highly relevant.

Read it and enjoyed it. I tend to like the epic novels.

The trends and characterizations I found to be salient. The romantic overtures were almost comical with Dagney.

Overall a very good read if you keep in mind it is literature and sensational. The Dog Eat Dog law is something the DC elites would drool over…


My take on the book, as Ive read a few times, its well written for a fable, some of the book content can apply today and some of it obviously is dramatization like Galt’s gulch.

Rand portrays Dagny as a strong woman equal to man but some would considered Dagny to be a slut and there is a scene where she is submitting under the will of a lover who is aggressive, nowadays that would be considered “sexual assault/rape”

The folks in Atlas Shrugged resembles real life characters, Midas Mulligan is J.P Morgan, Hank Rearden is Andrew Carnegie
Ellis Wyatt would be Rockafeller

Depending on how you view life, you will take different things from the books
me being an entrepreneur type took from it, that my mind belongs to me and there is nothing wrong with self interest and profit, its follows the lines from Adam Smith philosophy.

The book shows what happens when government micromanages society and what could happen, some of it she takes from life in the Soviet union where she was from

Where Rand loses me is the objectivism philosophy as I believe in God whereas objectivists advocates "atheism "

The part of about objectivism about man being responsible for his or her happiness I agree with it.
I agree with the moral parts except sleeping with whoever you want , It seems she didn’t have a belief in the traditional marriage, at least that is what I got from from book, as Rearden was fooling about on his wife but then again that could be reality is some marriages too.

I personally enjoyed “the fountainhead” better, but Atlas Shrugged is still a must read.

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I also read it in my late teens in the sixties. I have read it through twice. It also formed my ideals on capitalism, work ethic and the ideals of success. Rand a brilliant woman with a uncanny insight into the human condition. I have thought of her predictions often over the last several years as I’ve watched our country decline.

Never read the books, but I do have the DVD collection. They were so freakishly dry, yet so freakishly compelling. A well-made story indeed, but I was already in my 20’s and already had my core beliefs formed.

Very well explained. I had forgot about the objectivism in the story.