I'll say what everyone else says first: it's too darned long! Get on with the bloody story Ayn!! I listened to this in my car (1 hour each way to work) and a few times there were literally days where "nothing" happens. Very frustrating.
Next, what not-everyone says: This book changed my life, i wont get into the philosophy and politics of it, but it sure helped set in concrete and organize the views i have had for a long time. If you read it with an open mind (meaning you cant be a total commie/leftist/socialist), you will surely get something out of it. ITS WORTH IT!
I listened to the masterful reading of this amazing audiobook with much admiration for the author’s almost incredible power to predict the behavioral evolution that I have witnessed in the years since she died, not to mention the additional intervening decades since she completed “Atlas Shrugged”. The novel was published in an era when American energy, its will to work and determination to excel among nations remained at its peak, its admiration for those who produced the goods we consumed was in full blossom, and its tolerance for, indeed expectation of rewards for those whose brains and effort were the engine of that production reflected the public’s regard for those who elevated everybody’s standard of living. The sorry trend of affairs set out by Ayn Rand must have been as incomprehensible to the people of that era as it would have been to me as a high school graduate at that time had I spent my time reading “Atlas Shrugged” instead of “Peyton Place” at that moment in history.
But, in 2011, we ponder Rand’s prescience. Or perhaps, we muse, not prescience but inevitably what we hope to be a mere predictable cycle wherein the essential laws of being are overridden by fiat for a period, only to return to observance when the folly, and worse, of the inexplicable cycle becomes manifest and the masses somehow lose the “ability to pretend that what they are told is sane” and are able to believe that enlightened people live not for themselves, but for the benefit of others.
Author Rand spoke of a most peculiar stage in sociological evolution, the ultimate result of which is that a man’s “desire for money he cannot earn is regarded as a righteous wish, while “(another man) is damned for what he earns,” resulting in the latter’s lament against “helping people who despise me”. And she described with uncanny accuracy the emergence of the current ideology of “To each man according to his needs; from each man according to his ability”, together with the consequence of that ideology that achievements would no longer be men’s logical pursuit, but rather to be as needy as possible. The model automobile manufacturer, (in the book) 20th Century Motors, a trail blazer in this respect, became the home of thousands of “panhandlers” as the logical outcome of this philosophy as the only real means of getting along became manifest.
Altruism, the antithesis of the self-interest that has from the beginning of time exacted from mankind the best it has to offer, is presented by the author as what I capsule as a society-wide Ponzi scheme, ultimately for the benefit of the few who ironically are, in fact, pursuing thereby their own self-interest. Wide acceptance of the scheme is gained by sharing some of the spoils gained by punishing the achievers who are vilified to gain the widest possible complicity in that program of punishment. With trinkets and a minimal subsistence that has the virtue of being gained without effort, and with suggestion that greater such fruits from looting are being denied by rewards paid to greedy producers, the wrath of humanity is set upon the very people who are paying the bills. Perhaps the readers will find these concepts familiar.
The response of author Rand’s industry leaders was to deprive the inert masses of their benefactors' intellect and initiative and disappear into a secret enclave to wait for society and the economy to collapse upon itself, whereupon it would be possible to return, pick up the pieces and recommence the process of living for one’s own best interests as the only natural and sustainably productive type of human behavior.
Of course, this is a novel, and one must make some allowance for the manner in which the author makes her allegorical points. Industrialists and other engines of productivity, for instance, do not have to disappear into a crease in the Rockies as Rand’s players did, nor realistically could they. In fact, the human progression through all the seemingly inevitable ugliness requires far longer than a human’s lifespan. Many such leaders ultimately disappear in a mortal sense, being poorly replaced, if at all, and the remainder are simply finally destroyed by separating their labors from the rewards that fuel their labors. In the wake of this, we hope the common sense that first created the desire to achieve (man’s highest moral purpose) and inevitably benefit all society will create others of their ilk when the folly has, at last, run its course.
John Galt’s lengthy and spellbinding radio address is a particular masterpiece. Therein, the author articulates masterfully her own message and the essence of her reason for undertaking this substantial tome. Anyone deciding to read this novel (which I sense that some of the commenters here perhaps have not) should, even if abandoning the book because of its length, challenging concepts, and/or its unusually broad vocabulary and gifted expression, at least read and understand Galt’s words and, having done so, consider their logic and application in a logical and constructive daily life and as the valid reason for living.
I waited too many years to read “Atlas Shrugged”, but it was my good fortune that the processes of sincere personal effort and eating were so inextricably linked for me in the early years, and that the causes and effects that Ayn Rand deems so logical were as much so for me. For later generations, the work of those coming before and the wealth and ease created by them has loosened that perception of linkage in the thinking of many. A lack of understanding that there is no virtue in living for the benefit of others and that living off of the efforts of others is unsustainable and destructive philosophy, personally and for society as a whole, is the result.
I do not propose that anybody or any generation is bad or good, nor do I disparage any point in the sadly logical cycle that Ayn Rand so ably describes. I do propose that an understanding of the spectrum of that cycle is well worthwhile, and that such an understanding will enable the reader to see and understand the impact of the current drama actors, so ably profiled long ago by Ayn Rand that a thoughtful and observant reader can clearly equate key players in the book to key live actors now playing the same parts in the ruinous downcycle now upon us in the United States. Lastly, I propose that nothing I have ever read promotes that essential understanding as fully and logically as this book.
Even if the novel somehow fails to stimulate an individual reader’s ability to see and react to the transparently destructive vortex of misguided philosophy at work in our country, he/she will, If nothing else, learn some new words and observe practically unparalleled skill in putting them on paper. Happy and thoughtful reading.
It is obvious why capitalist recommend this book and the author.
It's scary how often you are forced to draw parallels between what is happening today and what is being described in the book, even though the book was written many years ago.
The key characters are well developed and the story compelling, if a little dramatic and perhaps far fetched. It is successful in making you question whether it is in fact so far fetched!
I was put off by the diatribe delivered by John Galt. I didn't think it was necessary to re-state everything that the book had so masterfully built up to and I found myself tuning out.
I'm surprised that this hasn't been made into a movie before this and am anxious to see how the movie version handles the John Galt speech. If it remains accurate to the book it will be a yawner!
Some books are great in audio format and some aren't. I would have rather read this one, as there is a LOT of repetition and it is easier to skim through printed material than audio. Ayn Rand wants to make a political / economic point, and boy, does she! Over and over again, through the long winded rants of several characters. At one point, John Galt makes a 3 hour speech! Three hours!! I kept skipping ahead to find him still going on. We get it already! Socialism is bad. Capitalism is good.
Seriously, though, the story is good and it is an interesting read, especially today in the world of government bailouts and cap and trade promoters. However, if there is an abridged version, I would recommend that.
The performance improves as the book goes on. Several of the characters, especially the women, sound too much like Hal of 2001 A Space Odyssey. But, by the time I got to the last quarter of the novel, I found that was not bothering me any more.
This was one of those books that I knew that I really needed to read at some point in my life but every time I went to start the shear size made me cringe. Listening to it was a happy alternative. I was pleased with the narration, which was steady and did a great job portraying each character especially Dagny Taggart, the protagonist of the story. I am glad that I finally read this story, now I know "who is John Galt?" A question I have seen on bumper stickers for years!
Emotion and everything!!!
Dagne Taggard for being a true no nonsense human being.
Going to have a hard time topping this book. What to listen to next???
At 63 hours, this is not for those who will not persevere to the end. Those who do will have enjoyed one of the true classic novels of our time. Our current world economic conditions make the book particularly relevant. There are many places where unbelievably long passages are encountered but I do recommend trying to get through them rather than jumping ahead. I do encourage all to read and to read it often to recapture your belief in yourself and what you can do.
Excellent and scary in light of our current economic situation. This is a must read for every American!
I know that a lot of people love this book, but I have to disagree. There is so much required for you to actually get the story.
The author takes no time in establishing that the general population is very unintelligent and follow like sheep. She then proceeds to treat the reader as if he/she were part of that general population.
It is impossible to disagree with most of the view points of the author, so I got tired of the repetitive sermon after the first couple hours of the novel.
A good example, is the speech that one of the main characters gives to the world near the end of the book. The speech is supposed to be geared towards people in the book, but instead I had to listen to the bable for over two hours. I don't need the speech, I am not one of the sheep. Summing it up by telling the reader that the speech happened would have been quite enough.
Even though this book was written in the 50s, it still rings true today. Every day I would read the paper or listen to the news and think about something I had read in this book. I'm so glad my daughter told me about this book.