Book Reviews

So many books (you know the rest)

Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand
Published in 1957 (I finished it on May 15, 2013)

I had no idea what to expect when getting this book, so I didn’t expect too much.

But I got a whole lot.

The novel is massive. And it has some of the best prose I’ve ever read. It’s almost depressing from a writer’s viewpoint in that you stop and think, “Argh! I doubt I could ever write so much great prose.” Still, it’s you’re also pleased to see the art of writing so masterfully done.

The characters are numerous, but the key ones get ample time. They’re flawed, although the good guys are generally good and the bad guys are essentially bad.

What I mainly enjoyed in reading the novel were the themes. There are so many thought-provoking ideas from the beginning to end. Many times I’ll agree with the opinions and sentiments, but other times I will part ways with the author’s diatribes. Rand strikes some serious chords with illustrating the rich and poor, who deserves what and from whom? Who has a right to what others have just because they have stuff at all? A whole section argues how money isn’t inherently evil and is a necessary means of exchange the value and worth of a man’s services and products with another. The bartering days do not work so well in modern times when one cannot adequately gauge the worth of Farmer Ted’s chickens when selling long-term stocks.

Even the idea of Robin Hood is put down in that someone stealing from another and distributing as he sees fit isn’t exactly right or completely fair. It would be akin to someone from a poorer area of town breaking into your house and taking your television just because you have a TV and he does not. He supposedly has a right to what you have, just because he lacks it. We cannot legislate kindness and sharing.

To summarize: it’s a lengthy illustration of why socialism doesn’t always work very well.

Yet there are shortcomings. In short, it’s too long. Way too long in many places. The monologues and speeches just go on and on for hours on end, it seems. The points are being made through repetition often. And it’s quite annoying. One isn’t right just because he spends 10,000 words and two hours repeating his point.

The “bad” people are at times all two-dimensional. A horrific accident kills everyone on a train, but it’s implied that hey, it’s okay, because they were all (ALL?!?) greedy, selfish people who wanted others to do the thinking and working so they could simply reap the benefits. Really? Everyone was like that?

The sentiment is against all religion too. In the end, there’s not much left to believe in except for hoping people just find happiness in…hmm….not sure where she was heading with that one.

Overall, it seems to support a free market economy through capitalism, where too many laws and regulations about making sure no one gets too far ahead, only hinder progress and cripple one of the last free market societies around.

The society (perhaps not unlike our current trend today) is fine with people being free to become successful and rich, provided no one actually becomes successful and rich.