Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957) – a review

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Original review of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand from The Salt Lake Tribune, December 1957: Several years ago when Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead appeared we read it with a great deal of pleasure and so, upon seeing Atlas Shrugged looked forward to a good novel — if an extremely long one (1,168 pages).

Well, we read and read and read some more and concluded that it’s fascinating enough to make you feel, “I know this whole thing is ridiculous but I want to find out what happens.”

Miss Rand lets off plenty of steam about her ideas on free enterprise, competition, brains, money, love, etc., etc. in this tome. On the book’s dust jacket she says that The Fountainhead was just an overture to this novel and she means it.

Who is John Galt?

Miss Rand starts out by asking a question: “Who is John Galt?” and she keeps asking it throughout tow-thirds of the book. Then there is, of course, Miss Rand’s astoundingly brilliant, beautiful heroine, Dagny Taggart, who runs a transcontinental railroad, a woman who makes all other women, and almost all other men, totally insignificant.

Dagny isn’t the only powerful character. There’s Hank Rearden, Dagny’s lover and the man brave enough to market a metal than surpasses steel; there’s Ellis Wyatt, whose oil field development in Colorado is practically the only bright spot in the country; there’s the South American copper king and playboy, Francisco d’Anconia and many others.

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Atlas Shrugged (1957) - original cover

Many critics took a dim view of this book.
Here are Two Snarky Reviews of Atlas Shrugged
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Barren World

There is a tattered, pitiful, almost barren and certainly depressed world which is in its bad state because of excessive welfare statism — individuals who want to put their energies and intelligence to work to earn money and position for themselves are vile.

And there is plenty of mystery. Just as an example, you soon start wondering what’s happening to all the industrial giants, the top scientists and technicians who just walk out of their offices and are never seen again.

You wonder for pages and pages what’s happening to all these people and then you finally find them — in a utopia of their won in a secluded valley where their ideas on individual enterprise are flourishing, where they’re biding their time waiting for the moment when they will be able to return to active life and and save the country — civilization, actually.

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Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand on Amazon
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Mystery Man

And the brain behind it all — John Galt, of course. The mystery man who had the answers to this dilemma, who wins Dagny and who once more makes the dollar sign something to worship.

Perhaps Miss Rand’s expression of her philosophy will be of help in trying to keep in mind that you’re reading a serious novel. She says: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute.”

You have to read this book for yourself to believe it — to believe that it was written, that is. You probably won’t believe Miss Rand’s theories or predictions, but you are likely to keep reading through them to the end.

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Ayn Rand postage stamp US

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More about Atlas Shrugged

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