Absolutely a must read for every single freedom-loving American. Cannot recommend enough the importance of Rands work to explain and defend Capitalism with its foundation of individual rights as the only societal means to true human progress, flourishing, and happiness in the present world.
The time taken to read or listen to this work, no matter your world view, will not be wasted.
Everyone who reads anything written by Ayn Rand should know two things:
1) Her definition of altruism is not your definition of it.
2) To understand how her definition differs, you must read and grapple with a lot of her work.
That being said, if you can get past the nit-pickings many people bring to the table, people who are completely unable to see beyond the conceptual scheme within which their thoughts operate, you should be able to seriously enjoy this book.
Rand makes a case for Capitalism that is based on facts rather than historical narrative; i.e. she doesn't tell you compelling tear-jerkers to convince you, she simply restates the facts, as they are historically known. This brings me to another point, namely, that her definition of Capitalism is also not your definition of it.
For her, Capitalism represents every individual's ability to reach their full-potential, their own "Perfect 10" state-of-existence. Capitalism is something which allows people to excel based on merit rather than on fiat or consensus. People who think she doesn't care for the downtrodden are seriously mistaken.
On the contrary, Rand considers every individual as a whole, an "end in itself," meaning that a disabled person, (say someone with Down Syndrome,) has the same right to pursue their own happiness, their own ends, and their own fullest potential, as does the richest billionaire, or the most successful professional athlete, or any other cultural status symbol or cause we worship or might want to support.
That being said, there are a few things Rand says that will not sit well with many, and make her reading impossible for some people. Professional philosophers may be put-off by the dismissive manner with which she speaks of Kant, Plato, and pretty much every other philosopher that wasn't Aristotle. Additionally, she is singlemindedly unbending in her commitment to her view, and sometimes so stubborn that her backside begins to show.
Nevertheless, if you can get past the feelings of offense that might rise up within you, and separate her admittedly personal opinions from her more objective philosophical statements, I think you will find her reading satisfying, as well as compelling, both intellectually, and morally.
Rand can get into a "use all of the worlds massive words in one sentence" mode every so often, so if you zone out while driving you have no chance of filling in the gaps. Lots of rewinding.
For those trying to learn the nitty gritty of Rand's philosophy. Definitely do not recommend it as a first Ayn Rand book, you should read this only if curious about the specifics of her philosophy.
The second to last chapter and the last chapters are amazing and I will definitely reference them in the future.
after several replays, and that's not easy on an ipod, i made the decision that this is not a book to listen to. the concepts are such that you need to stop and ponder what you just read. so, i bought the book in print. and it's a good thing. i can read only a few pages before i have to stop and discuss what i just read with my husband and compare it to current events and discuss accuracy.
there is no character or character development other than for comparison.
this book is not movie material. it's more economics and philosophy class material.
don't give up on this title if you find you can't listen to it. get a print version. you'll be glad you did.