In defense of those greatest of human qualities that have made civilization possible, one man sets out to show what would happen to the world if all the heroes of innovation and industry went on strike. Is he a destroyer or a liberator? And why does he fight his hardest battle not against his enemies but against the woman he loves?
Tremendous in scope and breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand's magnum opus, an electrifying moral defense of capitalism and free enterprise which launched an ideological movement and gained millions of loyal fans around the world.
©1985 Eugene Winick, Paul Gitlin and Leonard Peikoff; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Considered a grump and confrontational, but still a loving grandad.
This author has taught all who are willing to listen to what she has said, truly a life changing, mind provoking life style available to the listener.
A lover of audiobooks of all kinds, since childhood, when long car journeys were accompanied by Discworld stories. @ReineDesLivres (Twitter)
At 63 hours long, this is the definition of a marathon listening session, but I think it's worth it. Atlas Shrugged is a long story, which presents Ayn Rand's theory of objectivism through a number of speeches and discussions, but it also has a great fictional narrative that goes along side it. You may not like Rand's politics or philosophy, but at its heart this story has a great female lead character who fights to be successful and competent surrounded by idiots, fools and incompetents. So, give it a try, you might be surprised and enjoy it.
Oh my, I finally finished this lengthy book (1076 pages, over 63 hours of listening). I am very glad I read/listened to this book. I should give it 5 stars for being a life-changing book, but because of the literary shortfalls, I just can't.
So here's what I think. The story was good, and very thought-provoking. I see so many parallels in what Ayn Rand was trying to say 60 years ago vs. what is going on in this country today. It is scary and hopeful at the same time. I don't get why we as humans in the 21st century can't understand that when we penalize those who produce we are destroying ourselves. Why do we keep saying things like, "Let's tax those rich b_____s. They can afford it." Well ok, but then who will pay your paycheck. Use your heads, people. The rich guys are the ones with the ability to create jobs for the rest of us. If they are not allowed the freedom to create, where does that leave the rest of us? We will not get far when we are all on government handouts.
So that is the gist of this book. Live and let live. Let those who are able, create jobs for the rest of us. Don't keep taxing and regulating them to death. Or any of us, for that matter.
Now, about the literary side of things. This book is full of lectures. Some of them go on for page after page after page. A lot of good things are said, but many of them are said over and over. The worst one is the chapter "John Galt Speaks" near the end of the book. How many ways can you say the same thing? Whatever number that is, it was reached in that chapter. I read this book AND listened to it as well. About half way through that speech, I put the audio on 3x speed and listened in fast mode. I didn't miss a thing. . .
The story is largely allegorical and I like that sort of thing, but it went a little too far for my taste. Also, the love story just didn't make it for me. It was just too unrealistic. It went something like this: (This might be a semi-spoiler, so be aware)
Woman: Oh Man #1, I have loved you since we were children.
Man #1: You are the only woman in my life. Don't believe all that playboy stuff they say about me.
Woman: Oh Man #2, I have never had a relationship like this before.
Man #2: Now that I can finally admit that I love you, I will divorce my wife so that we may live happily ever after. Well, at least I'll be happier with or without you after I dump that broad.
Woman (upon seeing Man #3 for the first time): "Ah Sweet Mystery of Life, at last I've found you!"
Man #3: I'm sure we can live happily ever after, well, that is, after I save the world and have my near-death experience at which point you sweep in and save my life by taking on a small army single-handedly. We're going to be great together.
Man #2: I always knew you would find someone else. And when I met him, I have to admit I can't blame you. He is AWESOME!
Man #1: Yeh, I kinda like him too.
So taking the good with the bad, it still is a book worth the many hours it takes to read it. (If you listen to it, put the narrator speed on 2x, at least.) I can't recommend it to everyone. It takes a weird combination of being mature and a dreamer to really appreciate it.
A word about the narrator. Scott Brick is one of the most highly rated narrators, and I also think he is very good, but he does some things that bother me a lot. First off, he uses the same syntax for everything. Secondly, he has a way of elongated certain words every time he reads them. "Any" is one of them, or anything with an "n" or "m" in the middle. He reads quite slowly, and does not use a very wide range of characterizations. Still he is a good reader and I am pretty sure I will listen to other books read by him. He just won't ever be my favorite.
Almost uncomfortable to listen to, due mainly to the reader's voice inflection, intonation and difficulty with reading the text. I wish I had sampled the narration before buying it. Also, the segments aren't appropriately identified so if you're following the recording with the print you have to struggle to find the right page. Not recommended for reading-impaired listeners.
I enjoyed this book a lot but there are some negatives that diminished my enjoyment of it.
- I loved the protagonists (Dagny, Hank Rearden, Francisco). They were strong, intelligent characters and I was rooting for them right from the start
- the story was interesting. I was anxious to find out how it would all end and it was gripping
- the philosophical disadvantages of Socialism are well-presented
- it seems very exaggerated. I don't think the staunchest defenders of Socialism would identify with the "Incompetents' (my word for them) in this book
- the antagonists in this book (James Taggart, Wesley Mulch, etc.) seemed to be the same person. They are one-dimensional with no redeeming qualities
- it was very, very long. A few times I wanted to stop because it was so long but I really wanted to find out how it all turned out. John Galt's speech on the radio could have been cut down to 10% of its length with no loss of meaning or impact.
Overall a good, enjoyable story and I recommend it
This book is a classic because of Rand's examination of the conflict between individual liberty and collectivist tyranny. "Atlas Shrugged" may have influenced the economic thinking of more people than any book since Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations". Rand's careful and logical reasoning in defense of liberty and freedom spawned the libertarian movement, and created millions of adherents. And all of this is despite the fact that the novel, as a novel, is not very good.
The novel is really long, too long. Brutal editing could have vastly improved the book. The descriptive passages are frequent and wearyingly tedious.. The romantic sub plot boils and fizzles out like a TV soap opera. But despite the weak fiction writing skills of Rand, the ideas presented are so compelling, thought provoking, and important that the book as a whole is actually . . . exciting!
The book is set in a near future United States collapsing, literally, under the weight of an oppressive government. The Washington bureaucrats use ever increasing regulation, central economic planning, crony capitalism and labor union violence to grab personal power and wealth. And all is done in the name of equity and fairness. Equality, fairness, share the wealth, confiscate and redistribute money from the wealthy, from Wall Street, from the banks, from the successful, it all sounds like right now (2011), doesn't it? But this book was published in 1957. No one had heard of "Occupy Wall Street" in 1957, but the ideas are the same ideas presented in this book.
Remarkably prescient, Rand forecasts the results of Progressivism as high unemployment, stagnation and eventual destruction. America in 2011 seems to be steadily lurching exactly towards the outcomes Rand predicted. The central issue today, as in Atlas Shrugged, is not the people, it is the ideas. Rand does not use labels like Republican, Democrat, Liberal or Conservative. She confines herself only to concepts and principles. As a result, her ideas are as topical today as they were in 1957.
These 4 words say it all, but somehow it took 1100+ pages and 63+ hours to say it. This book is considered a classic and I can understand why; it gets into the fundamental rights of humanity, it addresses many of the issues we're still facing today and its characters are well-defined and interesting. I really got into this audiobook, but having said that...it's painfully boring to listen to at times. There's a long-winded speech at the end that literally goes on and on for hours. Clearly Ayn Rand didn't like governmental control, but I had no idea she was also against editors. A third of this book could be cut...seriously...and it would not only reduce the endless preaching, but it would make the book as a whole more concise and fluid. On at least 10 occasions I said "OK I GET THE POINT!"
The characters are interesting...I was very intrigued by the principles that guided them. I found it hard to believe that such successful businessmen and women would be so dramatic, philosophical and soap-opera-like while expressing their views, especially in such industries as metals and railroads. But the extreme idealism of their views was very insightful nonetheless.
Towards the end of the book, I found myself saying "No...it really is ok to do a favor for a friend without a dime exchanged between us." Anyhow...I get the point; it's better to be free and the fruit of my labor is mine to sell. Perfect audiobook for the patient and audacious among you. Enjoy.
this is a truly entertaining story. one that many people in america would do well to hear considering our current political and economic situation.
i gave this 4, instead of 5, stars for two reasons:
most of the monologues in this book, and there are a handful, are almost suicidally long. the point is typically made within the first 5 or 10 minutes, but the listener is subjected to exhausting reiterations of the same idea. case in point is john galt's radio address clocking in at 3 hours of listening time. having said this, i loved francisco's diatribe about money being the root of all evil (or not, as the case may be) and that probably came in around 45 minutes or so.
the second reason i didn't give this 5 stars is that i felt the narrator portrayed dagney in an excessively weak and frail voice. i don't know if that was his best impression of a woman, but dagney deserved a more confident sounding voice. he did a great job with reardon and i found myself hating james taggert on multiple occasions because the whining tone of his voice was so grating.
overall, awesome book. would recommend to everyone, young and old.
somehow I got to be 38 without every reading this. Without really even knowing what it was about. I'd heard wacky things about Ayn (and her followers), but was pleasantly surprised by the book. The scale was refreshingly endless... her writing style is unique, wavering from the authentic depths of story telling to the shallow puddle of smut-fiction... But as a fan of Sci-Fi I am used to that. In many ways it is an Asimov-ian sci-fi adventure set in the techno-industrial beginnings of our country. in short, wish I'd read it earlier.
Atlas Shrugged is a true classic, perhpas even more relevant today than it was when it was first written. I have read it many times, but enjoyed very much listening to the audio book reading. It added some life to the text that I had been missing. I highly recommend it.
"John Galt would have liked it"
A minor criticism first. The first track in this audio book is an introduction with spoilers, so you should skip it if you don't want the surprise to be spoiled. The narration is clear and well acted and the sound is good.
Atlas Shrugged is two books in one: a novel and a book of philosophy. As a novel, AS is very good. It has interesting characters that change over the course of the book in ways that seem reasonable given their worldview and the world they live in. The plot also makes sense and is very effective at presenting Rand's worldview.
Many people complain about AS. I think these complaints are largely due to them disagreeing with the philosophy without having any good arguments against it. Do characters speak more eloquently than most people do in real life? There isn't a novel worth reading where that isn't true. The characters sometimes give speeches when they have something to say that requires a speech. People disapprove of this stuff because they dislike the content of the speech, not because there is a speech. My suggestion about how to approach the book is this: every time you feel outraged ask yourself whether you have a logical argument against what Rand is saying. If you don't then you should be willing to admit that you might be wrong and keep going.
So, to conclude, this audiobook is a well-narrated presentation of a challenging and dramatic novel.
"Has challenged me to rethink ideas"
For a long time I was reluctant to start reading this book, as it is a very long book, but it has been a great "read" for many hours of driving. Yes, it is long, but it has kept me interested and curious for the next turn of events.
I knew it was a political/philosophical book and it has certainly provoked my thinking - more than I really like, as I normally do not see myself as such a radical liberal as promoted here. The "looters" seem so obvious wrong in this book, that it is scary how often we see and hear their ideas promoted in real life also now in 2013. Having travelled around the world, I see countries almost purely based on the model promoted by the "looters" here - and not surprisingly these countries seem on the brink of catastrophe.
Probably the most thought provoking book I have "read" in years.
This is a fantastic eye opening read. It gives the reader a whole new view of the economy today even though it was written in the late 50s. I would recommend this audio especially for those who find reading a book of this size difficult. Definitely a must have!
"Well Worth the Effort"
I was so pleased when I saw the unabridged version of Atlas Shrugged had been released on Audible. I tried to fight my way through the tiny font 1168 page paperback I bought a few years ago but I only have so much determination. This is what audiobooks were meant to be.
As many know this set in an America where socialism has gone bad. At times you do feel as though Rand is hitting you over the head with her message, but I suspected it was always going to be that way.
After a slow start Rand manages to keep my interest in the plot, although I have to admit that it's lovers of philosophy who will get the most out of this book.
Well read by Scott Brick; next up for me in the unabridged Fountainhead.
The longest book I have ever bought and definitely value for money.
"A work of fiction, a work of philosophy."
I really can not describe how much this novel has affected me. The value this book presents is just unmatched by any other work of its kind. For me Atlas Shrugged feels like a classic that is actually a classic. Themes of the book weave together like nothing I have ever read. If you enjoy a good thought provoking book, Atlas Shrugged will change your life.
"Atlas Shrugged - 30th Edition complete with extras"
A titan of a book, by any standards, would need to give it a while before revisiting, will be trying The Fountainhead though.
Narration perfectly executed by Scott Brick.
Brick's take on all the characters is excellent, but his Hank Rearden was the best.
Such a great book, narrated so well, with notes from the author etc thrown in for good measure.
One of the best purchases I've made on Audible.
"An Explanation of Our Current Folly."
Prophetic vision of our future written Sixty years ago. This is a gripping read that seems to explain today's headlines. Well read in the audible format. An excellent explanation of why ,"There is no free lunch."
I first read this book many years ago, and have been checking Audible for the last three years, waiting for it to come out on audio. I forgot a lot of the plot of this book, but I absolutely love it. Ayn Rand was a genius!
"Surprisingly impressive book"
Scott Brick is a talented narrator with a fluent command of the different voices.
There are many characters in this book and Brick managed to make a different voice for every one of them.
It made me think.
There were holes in the plot and a lot of unanswerable questions. The Utopia which Rand describes is not workable. The Distopia she describes could not happen at that sort of pace in that way. However, later events -- typified in the collapse of Soviet society for example, or the rise of politicly correct language in Western countries -- which she could only predict at the time she wrote the novel, prove her to have been remarkably prescient and although her views seem extreme this book carries warnings we should heed.
"What to make of Atlas Shrugged"
The train facing the tunnel and beyond.
No. This is a tome concerning the rights of Capitalism but the principles expressed simply don't work. Very interesting read though.
Ayn Rand's diatribe, for that's what it essentially is, creates a world where 'capital' fights it's cause. The key premise is that those accruing vast capital do so by their own efforts solely and therefore have no responsibility to their society. This is an inane argument as we all must accept that there is no such person as 'the self made man' and it only the notional power of money that could conclude otherwise. This is novel that tells us that power (in this case wealth) never tells the truth or (more specifically) never admits it's wrong.
In a way this is much the same argument that many 19th century intellectuals and philosophers use to describe their thoughts and although not specifically related to capital you'll find similar arguments used by Adolf Hitler in his books of the 1920s leading to the 2nd World War.
Ayn offers no ideas and merely suggest a future of economic hegemony and of a withdrawn capital owning class and fails completely to understand that such a withdrawn culture makes capital ownership actually worthless.
There's a strong sexual component too and one (certainly me) can't help feeling that her mass argument amounts to nothing more than sexual longings of her own. Herself a very plain and rather unattractive woman it's quite hard not to see her female characters as possessed of a beauty and sexuality she may have lacked. While I may hear feminists bounding up to her defence I very much doubt that I'll hear many similarly bounding toward her ideas - as expressed in Atlas Shrugged.
Basically the central premise of this novel is just plain silly. It has truths (in my opinion), it most certainly isn't worthless. For me it just astounds - however, I have a longer view and my own arguments with capital are 70 years more knowing and probably a great deal more damning than this trite piece of 1950s kitsch. A good read overall.
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