I'm a mom of a busy 10 year old daughter, manage a demanding career and depending on my morning read during my commute to improve my happiness!
This was a terrible story - can't figure out why anyone recommends it. One of my friends told me to read it - said she reads it every year to
So I certainly wasn't expecting to like this drivel or anything, but I felt like I should at least listen to it so I would understand better where the crazy Randers were coming from. If you're considering buying this, I imagine you're doing the same. (If you know anything about Rand and don't think she's utterly full of shit, it's probably already too late for you.) Take my advice: I endured this so you don't have to. I can say with complete confidence: no, it's not worth it. There really is no there here. It's absolutely as bad as everyone says.
The basic problem Rand seems to run into is that she wants to make her hero characters seem way smarter than all the other characters in the book. Except that she (Rand) is herself not smart enough to create really smart characters. So instead she just makes all the other characters unbelievably stupid so that her preferred characters seem smart by comparison. Apparently no one in America but like ten people can figure out how to run a railroad. And the evil villainous henchmen come off as the worst totalitarians in the history of the world: "Do our bidding or else we'll... stammer!" There's this overarching threat, if you don't do what we say, we'll force you to at the end of a gun. And then the main character declares "no, you can't actually make me *think* for you with a gun." What somehow no one seems to realize is that the threat isn't "do what we say or we'll point a gun at you," it's "do what we say or we'll shoot you with this gun. Then we'll shoot the next guy in line until we arrive at the person who listens." She doesn't do what they say. Then they don't shoot her. This is the difference between this idiotic story and every real totalitarian state in history. And believe me, after a few hours of this crap, I was begging the government henchmen to pull the trigger!
Look, we all know libertarianism is intellectually bankrupt. You listen to this thing in order to try to diagnose what's wrong with them. It's not worth it. There's no secret in these pages of how this virus of a terrible idea infects sensible people. If you're someone who read this book and liked it, there was something wrong with you beforehand.
Atlas Shrugged is full of stereotypes and over-simplifications. Rand continually displays her extreme bias towards capitalism, and distain for any sort of regulation. It makes sense to me that a person with her particular background would hold the opinions discussed in Atlas Shrugged, but I really don't see how any rational westerner can take this book seriously. Any comparisons to modern life are superficial at best, and completely unavoidable. Rand's ideas are so over-generalized that you can find comparisons everywhere you look but never manage to find any deeper meaning. I really wanted this book to mean something, but it's shallow.
This book's one purpose is to promote the author's philosophy of objectivism, which clearly resonates with some people in this day and age, but in my mind is an extreme point of view. Would recommend you understand this philosophy before you buy the book. Wikipedia has a good article.
... but am I glad I went against type this time for the abridged version. I rate this one-star for the narration and the fact that it's abridged. I enjoy Plato, EVEN Rousseau, but I'd rather listen to a good sermon (even though I'm no believer) than a long-drawn treatise on half-baked ideas wrapped up in a weak story with too many loose ends, repetitions, and one-dimensional characters. Granted that what was going on at the time was enough to drive people to extremes, and granted that this was written when narrow-minded people roamed the earth, I am disappointed to see such a misogynist praised as a great thinker (unfortunately, one has to have read this to realize that).