April's Reviews > Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
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May 26, 2008

it was ok
Read in July, 2008

** spoiler alert ** I wanted to quote Dorothy Parker and say, “This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” But if I tried to throw this heavy tome of over 1100 pages of 10pt type, I’d pull a muscle or damage my wall. So, no defenestration of literature for now.

The book in a nutshell is arrogant, naive, outdated, and so inherently flawed that I don’t know how to begin. That Ayn Rand is for big business and small government becomes fairly obvious from the start, and if it were only about that, I’d be writing a kinder review ... because some of her ideas make sense.

For instance, that competent people could get fed up with incompetent people making unreasonable demands on them that they’d just drop everything and leave? I get that. I’ve been one of those fed-up people, and in companies bought out by incompetents, smart people either leave in disgust or get fired for stupid reasons, resulting in a brain drain, which could be bad for a company. This happens on a small scale, however, and to a limited degree, contained within the company and affecting only a fraction of the staff.

Yet Ayn Rand takes this small universal phenomenon and applies it to the entire world, and not just to a limited degree but taken further so that the U.S. is practically demolished--all travel, communication, order, and power grids destroyed, supposedly by incompetence--before the competent folk come back to rebuild, which is ridiculous because it ignores so much involved in the lifeblood of a country, its culture, its economy, and its legal processes. And it ignores human psychology. Even if we all subscribed to the Randian philosophy, I somehow doubt that we’d all let the world go to hell--people starving, rioting, disappearing, dying, and structures collapsing into rubble--just to make a point with those who oppose us. It seems unreasonably cruel.

So why is it that Rand’s characters would run to save a blast furnace but not millions of starving people?

I understand how the author feels about charity--in some respects, I feel the same way; I much prefer giving to those who are as deserving as they are needy, would rather avoid enabling those who by indulging in bad behavior might abuse other people’s generosity, and find it a touch distasteful when people outright solicit me in the name of charity--but I fail to understand how her characters can wholly ignore the needs of society and not only completely withdraw their contribution to the economy but also actively and deliberately set out to kill the economy through piracy and destruction. It stinks of vigilantism, where people outraged with the lawbreakers set out to break the laws themselves, all in the name of justice, like stooping to the level of murderers and looters by killing and stealing from those who kill and steal. Only comic book heroes get to do that, so like Rand’s heroes seem. I know that was her intention, but I don't have to like it. The book vies to be heavier than the yellow pages, and yet she has heroes I would have preferred to meet within the very slim and colorful volume of a comic book. It doesn’t seem right.

What bothers me most is that her heroes are flawless by her standards, her villains wholly lacking in any virtues. She makes a lousy devil’s advocate because she fails in presenting the other side of any argument in a convincing way. When one of her heroes gets into a debate with anyone, the hero is always articulate, deliberate, reasonable, rational, and completely unflappable, however much like religious fervor his needlessly long speeches might sound--whereas the opposition always stutters, blusters, whines, complains, and gets utterly confused or bemused by the hero’s arguments. None of the opposition’s arguments make any sense or are any good, and not only do the motivations behind their actions seem forced, but the stupidity of their motivations also seem forced, as if in order to make her protagonists the epitome of rational thought, Rand must remove all traces of rational thought from her antagonists.

In war, a good general thinks like the enemy, anticipates his moves, and wins by besting the enemy’s thoughtful strategy with his own. In Atlas Shrugged, however, Rand does away with the whole Know Thine Enemy concept and instead says, “Let’s just assume the enemy is abysmally stupid,” and then goes from there ... the implication being that anyone who disagrees with her philosophy must be lacking in common sense, so it takes her no effort to defend her views. Her dissenters might actually have valid points to make, but who is she to entertain that fact? She has so much conviction in her own beliefs, why bother with anyone else’s? It’s like being a medieval general in the Children’s Crusade. We have the might because we have the right. Never mind the reality.

Which is? The kind of laissez-faire capitalism that the author so obviously espouses is not the best way. Russian-born Rand barely escaped communism, so I presume that because she saw one political extreme work badly, she went for the other extreme. Her hero John Galt preaches that it’s evil to compromise, so I can only assume that Rand would see any moderate view between the two as a BAD thing. Never mind the proof that history has provided that the middle ground works better than the extremes.

Another bothersome bit about this book was that the heroes had all the incentive and energy to destroy everything that they had worked so hard to build and then to rebuild elsewhere as much of what they had just destroyed. They also had the patience and certainty to wait out the long years of all this activity, until the culmination of all their hopes and goals. All that, and YET, they couldn’t be bothered to work towards having the kind of government they wanted WITHOUT all that destructive behavior. They are, after all, prime movers--wealthy, intelligent, capable, and powerful--but they can’t team up to lobby against income taxes and for deregulation? They can’t form a political party, win offices, propose and pass laws that would be beneficial to them? Come on. Really?

They spout this work-to-make-life-easier philosophy, but their actions contradict their creed. Galt differentiates between the looters who want to destroy and die and the producers who want to produce and live, and yet here are these heroic producers, actively destroying every productive endeavor in the country, most especially their own. What twisted logic. What hypocrisy. Like the child who cries, “If you won’t play my way, I’ll take my ball and leave.”

Then there’s the unrealistic way that the heroes respond. Three men are in love with Dagny Taggart, and she sleeps with each of them in turn--yet not one of the three are jealous of the others; in fact, they all become close friends, each admiring the others. And not one of the prime movers is angry with the others who left everyone in the outside world high and dry. Only briefly is Rearden angry with d’Anconia over the copper ore, but then he comes around and forgives him for it, then goes further and thanks him for it. Not one of the businessmen blames or resents the others for leaving the country to crumble and for making their own struggle difficult. If they had all stayed put and campaigned for power, they all might have won without destroying the country first. But not one of them asks, “Is all this necessary?” Instead, they blame the “looters” for the country’s dystopian state, never for a moment considering what their own actions might have contributed to it.

Another puzzle? The suicide of Mrs. James Taggart. Mrs. Taggart is of the same mind as Dagny ... and yet she fears her own shadow. If people who subscribe to Rand’s views have so much self-esteem and a will to live, why does Mrs. Taggart bow to her husband, doubt her own opinions and judgment, and then go off and kill herself? It makes as much sense as the prime movers having so much self-esteem that instead of fighting for what they want in the outside world, they go and hide in the mountains.

Yet another puzzle? The villains’ reaction to Galt. Taggart hates him instantly, though he’d never met him before. Rand justifies it, but such a hatred can only be personal, and Galt is a stranger to Taggart. Up until they capture him, he’s been nothing but a name in a rhetorical question. So where do they get the idea that Galt is anyone great? By his radio speech alone? Galt had left the world before he made his bones, so he hadn’t actually proven himself to them. He might have invented a wonderful motor, but it was never patented, sold, and used in the outside world. So all they had was Galt’s word, and from that alone they want him to save the economy. Does that make sense?

For villains with no self-esteem, they sure had the gall to think they could run the country well. For people who preached self-sacrifice, they sure held on to the reins of power with an obstinacy that screamed, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” In my experience, people with no self-esteem, who speak against selfishness, tend to defer such power to others, but perhaps I misunderstand. 30 long chapters full of circuitous and repetitive explanations tend to muddle things. Oh, the inanity of “Existence exists.”

Particularly cringe-worthy was the rescue operation, where the heroes’ social engineering stunts to save Galt consisted of lame arguments that actually stymied the guards. That had as much authenticity as a James Bond villain taking the time to tie Bond up in some elaborate death trap while revealing all his evil, deadly plans.

I did enjoy Rand’s literary style and narrative descriptions. It’s wordy and over the top, but the book was visually rich. I could easily see the world that she built. I just couldn’t understand it. A challenging book, if somewhat tedious.

Finished reading July 25, 2008.
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message 1: by Linsay (last edited Sep 05, 2008 04:40PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Linsay "So why is it that Rand’s characters would run to save a blast furnace but not millions of starving people?"

Because they're "compassionate conservatives"...

I couldn't agree more - nice review.



message 2: by Engineous (last edited Mar 10, 2010 10:04PM) (new)

Engineous I liked this review. I was interested in two things, though, and I wanted to share them with you/put them out there.

I understand how the author feels about charity--in some respects, I feel the same way; I much prefer giving to those who are as deserving as they are needy, would rather avoid enabling those who by indulging in bad behavior might abuse other people’s generosity, and find it a touch distasteful when people outright solicit me in the name of charity--but I fail to understand how her characters can wholly ignore the needs of society and not only completely withdraw their contribution to the economy but also actively and deliberately set out to kill the economy through piracy and destruction.

I wholly agree. I would also argue that, in such a way, if you are not going to support everyone enough that they can live their lives, then you owe them nothing less than a quick death. No, listen - I'm not saying this to disprove you; I do not believe death is as painful and hateful as most people believe it to be nowadays. I take a more animalistic approach (I'll elaborate on this if you like).

But, in essence, if you refuse to give someone the necessities (and I am talking about necessities - fruit and vegetables, shelter, water), it is torture in an unsubtle and not-very-indirect way to then refuse to kill them. If you insist on choosing a system where people are divided into the "deserving" or the "undeserving" (that is, capitalism and communism, as well as several others), and this system will affect their basic quality of life (foodwatershelter), then you best be prepared to receive the consequences - theft and such. You can't do without food and water, at the least. If it won't be given, and it can't be gotten, then it shall be taken.

It stinks of vigilantism, where people outraged with the lawbreakers set out to break the laws themselves, all in the name of justice, like stooping to the level of murderers and looters by killing and stealing from those who kill and steal.

Vigilantism need not be so simplistic. Some people, like myself, believe that there is an inherent flaw with dispensing "justice" through an arbitration system such as ours (I'm fairly sure you're American, yes?) even when that arbitration system is separated from aristocratic capitalism, negating the need to pay for lawyers and thus removing "justice" from the sphere of privilege and socioeconomic class.

Also, don't assume that everyone finds murder or stealing wrong, as you do. I realize it's a commonly-held belief, but so are rape myths. Never makes it right.


April Engineous wrote: "I would also argue that, in such a way, if you are not going to support everyone enough that they can live their lives, then you owe them nothing less than a quick death ... if you refuse to give someone the necessities (and I am talking about necessities - fruit and vegetables, shelter, water), it is torture in an unsubtle and not-very-indirect way to then refuse to kill them."

Sounds more like the issues of abortion and euthanasia when you phrase it that way. Ironic, though, that while it seems you're arguing on the Randian side on this point, most people (I'm assuming Republicans/Conservatives) subscribing to the Randian philosophy are pro-Life and anti-euthanasia. If babies can't be born well-fed and well-cared for by their parents, are you saying then that they are owed nothing less than the quick death of abortion? Somehow I don't see conservatives agreeing with that.

"If you insist on choosing a system where people are divided into the "deserving" or the "undeserving" (that is, capitalism and communism, as well as several others), and this system will affect their basic quality of life (foodwatershelter), then you best be prepared to receive the consequences - theft and such."

OK, I'm not sure I understand your meaning here. Are you saying capitalism and communism divide people into "deserving" and "undeserving" groups? If so, I don't agree with your viewpoint there. Neither system, based on their strict definitions, really makes a judgment on who is more or less deserving -- unless you want to anthropomorphize economic and/or political systems. Rather, I think any system can be taken advantage of, and there will always be people who try to take advantage of whatever system is in place, to get ahead and to keep others down.

So it's important that a system continually evolve to protect people from becoming victims of the system. If people WANT to starve and die, well, sure, let them, so long as they aren't hurting anyone but themselves, but some people make the mistake of assuming that people are in the situation they're in because they WANT to be -- like the assumption that people are poor because they're lazy. "Why don't they just get jobs?" people sometimes ask, without considering that perhaps they've been trying their hardest to get ahead but haven't had the same opportunities, advantages, or luck as those better off.

You asked if I'm an American -- yes, I am. So I believe in the right to the pursuit of happiness, meaning everyone should get a fair chance, and if that fair chance is in being provided the bare necessities so they can concentrate on living their dream instead of simply trying to survive day to day, then by all means we should provide that. It's not impossible; we waste more than we use, more than the rest of the world uses, even. We live in excess. Some of that excess should provide our lowest common denominator with their basic needs.

Some people, like myself, believe that there is an inherent flaw with dispensing "justice" through an arbitration system such as ours (I'm fairly sure you're American, yes?) even when that arbitration system is separated from aristocratic capitalism, negating the need to pay for lawyers and thus removing "justice" from the sphere of privilege and socioeconomic class.

I agree that our justice system has its flaws. I don't believe, however, that it's inherent. Our government, and thus our justice system, was made to be a growing, evolving thing, and we are meant to continually improve upon it over time. As I mentioned before, there will always be people who take advantage of a system, find its loopholes and weakness and use them for their own means. It's up to us to be aware of that and make the proper changes so that people don't become victims of the system.

Even in Rand's world, the system allows for that change, but instead of participating in the process, her heroes chose to destroy the living, evolving system -- to what end?

Also, don't assume that everyone finds murder or stealing wrong, as you do. I realize it's a commonly-held belief, but so are rape myths. Never makes it right.

No, I don't believe that everyone shares the same moral values. Morality can be relative. So I don't assume anything about what people believe are right or wrong.

But I don't know what you mean by the last bit -- rape myths? I had to look that up and found this: "the victims are blamed and held responsible for the perpetrator’s behaviors, choices and actions." The idea that it's a commonly held belief makes me shudder.

I'm the sort of person who takes things on a case by case basis, so I suppose no argument on the last point except to clarify that I don't believe everyone has the same moral standards.


message 4: by Antonio (new)

Antonio  Angelo compassionate conservatives are exactly what this reviewer is looking for. conservatives that try and work with the left. George Bush's biggest failures were his middle of the road attempts, Progressive Henry Paulson for treasury secretary, no child left behind, every american should own their own home.

When conservatives stick to being conservative and Liberals stick to being liberal a natural balance is found. Give me Reagan vs liberal congress. Or clinton vs conservative congress any day.


message 5: by April (last edited Oct 05, 2011 01:01AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

April To each his own, I guess. But for me, some compromises work, and others don't. It all depends on what each side has to give up. Conservatives who back corporations, for instance, especially those who love Ayn Rand, tend to like to privatize profit and socialize loss — their idea of a compromise. So when their companies succeed, their CEOs get maximum profit, but when their companies fail, the taxpayers have to pay for it — like Bush bailing out all the banks that made all those bad loans, while the CEOs turned around and used that bailout money to pay themselves huge bonuses. Yeah, sure, I believe Bush wanted every American to own their own home — and I say this with a lot of sarcasm. The way the circumstances were set up so that the banks no longer did their due diligence or checked a borrower's ability to actually pay off a loan, and YET they were allowed to sell those loans in packages as though they were tangible assets, thereby making a ton of money while handing off their liabilities to someone else entirely — not to mention the buying and selling of insurance based on all of that, compounding the utter wrongness of what was going on, or the right's strong push to get rid of all the regulations that once prevented all that mayhem. Well ... it just makes me think Bush's "middle of the road attempts" were just for show and really just a clever disguise for creating an economic environment that would be most beneficial to his corporate friends. I don't think the conservative right is in any mood to compromise and have never even BEEN in the mood to compromise in years.

In fact, in this day and age, I don't think the right would have even voted the somewhat liberal Republican Nixon in office, they are SO dead set against true compromise. His character was superbly flawed, but it's because of him we have the EPA, and he was the one who initiated a relationship with China. It's why the right would rather support Bachmann or Perry instead of Huntsman or Romney. They are conservative, and they're sticking to it. To hell with common sense.


message 6: by Antonio (new)

Antonio  Angelo I completely agree with your assessment of shared loss. the bailout was ridiculous, i actually wrote an article detailing the financial collapse which basically gels with your assessment.

Every compromise the right makes is a loss. the right is attempting to preserve what works, they by nature are very slow to change. They are not evil, they just have a lot to lose. good idea's eventually get through they may not move as fast as progressives would prefer but they want to make sure we don't lose everything in the pursuit of pie in the sky ideas. I am a huge fan of Huntsman's father but I don't think he has flashed enough to push his way into the race. I love the fact that he worked as ambassador to china and was a good governor who governed toward the center in a far right state. Nixon got us out of vietnam, opened trade with china, made common sense regulations and kept the soviets in check. His flaw was believing that his leadership was so important that he was willing to break the law in order to preserve it.


i don't know if links work on this site but this is my article if you are interested in my take on the collapse.

http://socyberty.com/economics/what-c...


April I don't believe the right is evil, but nor do I think they are really all that well-intentioned. They consistently side with corporations, which can be more often than not very damaging to the individual. The irony is that they're called conservative, but they don't practice fiscal conservatism — at least not in a way beneficial to the country; in a way beneficial to corporations, yes, but not beneficial to the country. Which is why corporations get all the tax breaks, and corporations in a way get counted as people. Heck, they get to make bigger campaign contributions that individuals do. There's something very wrong with that.


message 8: by Antonio (new)

Antonio  Angelo they have more to lose than individuals, Corporations are the engine of our economy, they provide efficiencies and productivity unmatched in the history of the world. The lack of fiscal conservatism by the republicans was a direct result of Bush and Rove pushing the compassionate conservative agenda. It failed and will continue to fail. true conservatives, people like Mark Levin and Steve Forbes want to get spending under control, not guide the economy through economic means.

Tax Breaks are designed by politicians attempting to guide corporate behavior. A perfect example is GE getting billions in tax breaks for creating green energy projects even though the projects are not that successful the government wanted them attempted so they created the incentive for GE to exploit. Oil companies are given breaks in exchange for not drilling in certain areas, individuals are given breaks in exchange for purchasing residences or giving to charities. The loopholes and breaks the left whines about were all created with the intention of guiding corporations and individuals into to doing something the government wants done.

The individual is the core of conservatism. Each and every persons individual right to succeed or fail with as little intervention from the government as possible is a cornerstone of the philosophy. this does not mean we don't care about those who fail, it means we do not want the government picking the winners and losers. we believe in charity over government and that is why conservatives give far more than liberals to charitable causes.

the left believes that spending money is beneficial to the country, the right believes that saving money is beneficial to the country both are right. Every government program is put together with money taken out of the private sector. There is a proper balance and when one side gains to much ground it falls out of balance. IE the current disaster brought on by too many individuals in government believing government can solve every issue, spending billions to bail out corporations, to provide health care, to fight wars in a just way instead of simply obliterating the enemy and all the surrounding villages. every choice costs something and big cuts are going to be necessary. cuts that will hurt every one of us.


April I disagree with you on some points, perhaps most of them. I don't believe corporations are nearly as important to our economy as small businesses. The right likes to say they support small businesses, but they really side with HUGE companies like GE, Exxon, Walmart, and the like, companies with the financial resources to find loopholes in the tax laws to pay as low as they can anyway, without all the tax breaks to help them further, companies with the financial resources to lobby in the most seductive ways, comping first class any luxury item or service an unethical politician could want. They already pay the lowest tax rates in history. The big oil companies are making BILLIONS in profits, some of which they use to lobby for deregulation, and the right loves them. This is how you get BP oil spills just off our coasts.

I agree that the individual should have every chance to succeed or to fail, but by the government helping the big corporations in a way that's detrimental to its employees and to the environment, they actually intervene in a very negative way in most cases. The right likes to argue that if you help corporations, they'll hire more people, but that's not necessarily true. In fact, sometimes they do the opposite. We've used this example before — where did the bailout money go? It went to executive bonuses.

The statement you made — that "the left believes that spending money is beneficial to the country, the right believes that saving money is beneficial to the country," etc. — is FALSE. The left believes in spending money WISELY, on things that are beneficial to the country, its people, the environment we live in. The right these days are NOT AT ALL about saving money. Wasn't it the Bush administration who decided to go to two wars, spending TRILLIONS on the war? Isn't he on the CONSERVATIVE RIGHT side? Is war a wise investment? Will it help the country's economy, the people, the environment? No, it is for all the corporations who MAKE money in wars, like Bechtel, like all those phony contractors who charge our military exorbitantly for a can of Coke, like mercenaries like Blackwater, who are not subject to military jurisdiction when they misbehave abroad.

There is no proper balance here. There might have been a couple of generations ago when people on the right were actually more moderate and had some liberal tendencies. But nowadays ... ever since Reagan made the rule of Republicans should not go against other Republicans in public, and ever since the right got with the religious folk, it just went crazy. Now there is less compromise and less common sense coming from the right.


message 10: by Antonio (new)

Antonio  Angelo Oil company profits are in line with their investments. The oil spill could just as easily be blamed on regulations that required bp to drill that far offshore. in shallower waters the spill would have been much easier to contain and likely would never have happened. As for expensive cans of coke, it is expensive to deliver goods in a war zone. It is like the 16 dollar muffins the justice department bought. when people aren't spending their own money they waste it.

the bush administration was not on the fiscal conservative side. They faced criticism from the far right for the no child left behind program and other social programs, Henry Paulson was not a conservative appointment, they spent like drunken sailors.

the wars are expensive but the alternative was more 911 like attacks which was also very expensive.

The left isn't exactly reaching across the aisle or presenting things that both parties can get behind either. The left has been making impossible promises and they blame the right for obstructing them. the health care plan is a nightmare, the refusal to attack the social security collapse head on is irresponsible, regulating nearly all production out of the country is insane.

corporations produce overseas because they don't have to deal with the over reaches of the epa.

yes clean air is good, safe working environments are essential but you can't force producers overseas.

we need some new leadership in Washington, we know the current administration has failed, and the one before it failed. congress has been a quagmire since it began, but a few men have managed to work with it. Clinton and Reagan both dealt successfully with a hostile congress were are men like these? could it be Cain or Romney maybe?


April Well, you obviously take the right's word at their word, taking for granted that all their press releases and statements about why they're making so much money at everyone else's expense absolutely MUST be true, despite the source of the message. It is expensive to deliver goods in a war zone because we pay contractors to do it, and of course, they're in it for the profit. When all of that is done, self-contained, in the military, it costs less. In any case, you've glossed over the fact that there is a needless war in the first place.

As for Bush not being on the fiscal conservative side, that was plainly obvious. But because conservatives side with conservatives and don't speak out, following Reagan's rule never to speak out against their own, the fiscal conservatives on the right never spoke out enough to stop him. It's the religious conservatives who have the biggest voice in the Republican party, so it's their face on the party that everyone else sees.

And people who love to defend the wars, such as yourself, tend to like to use 9/11 as an excuse. For me, it is just as laughable as some of the conservative ads or speeches I've seen praising Bush for the lack of attacks ("We're safer now!") because of his foreign policy, because of the wars he started, and because he started the Department of Homeland Security. Yes, why not let's completely forget 9/11 itself which was a MAJOR ATTACK on Bush's watch. Let's forget about all the memos that passed across their desks warning that Bin Laden was planning to attack, and yet nothing was done while they pooh-poohed and ignored the warnings.

As for the left not exactly reaching across the aisle, I find that even more laughable as I think they compromise WAY too much. As Bill Maher likes to say, Republicans lack the brains, and Democrats lack the balls, and I agree. A lot of the right's policies are sorely lacking in common sense — they are fiscally irresponsible and socially intolerant — but the left is no better because they let the right run roughshod all over them; they give in so easily, even when they know their policies make much more sense. Not reaching across the aisle? They're crawling across the aisle and allowing themselves to be doormats.

As for the current administration, its only failure is in getting the Republicans in Congress to truly come to terms and compromise. There have been Republicans who have actually stated on the record, on video, that they would do EVERYTHING in their power to make Obama a one-term president. You know what that has translated to? It has translated into Republicans going against even THEIR OWN policies, just to block a bill with Obama's name on it. If it looks like it might actually be good for the country, they'll knock it down because they don't want Obama to succeed and therefore get a chance at a second term.

I'm going out of town soon, so I will refrain from responding to any more of your comments for a while. In any case, judging from what you've said in your last couple of comments, it's clear to me what side you're on and possibly which news sources you follow, so I'll just agree to disagree, as I find myself feeling the same way I did when I read Atlas Shrugged. Let's just say that I think Ayn Rand's ideas (and those who subscribe to them) are ridiculous and completely lacking in wisdom, her world a total fantasy comic book world. Plus, I've learned long ago that there is no reasoning with the unreasonable.


message 12: by Antonio (new)

Antonio  Angelo Well i hope you have a good time on your trip be it business or pleasure.

I do not subscribe to the rights ideas because of press releases, i subscribe to them because I believe in the philosophy behind them.

I also believe the wars are just but that comes from a personal understanding of why it is better to fight the enemy in their country than ours.

For all the crap we get for going to Iraq one thing it accomplished was drawing thousands of radicals to into one place where they could be eliminated.

The radicals had attacked us multiple times before 911 at our embassies, on our ships and at our bases. It wasn't until they struck our cities that we responded appropriately. all the previous attacks happened under Clinton. Bush had been in office for less than a year when 911 occurred.

the failures of the current administration can not be blamed on the republicans, Obama came into office with solid majorities in congress, and the senate. He has failed to find common ground with the republicans as he pushes the failed policies of europe onto the american people.

I will agree with you that the right is socially intolerant especially the religious right. They have antiquated beliefs that need to be overcome the only way to do that is to continue to push forward.

The country is not perfect it is a work in progress there are problems with both sides of the aisle, but to assume one side or the other is completely unreasonable or without merit in any of their ideas is counterproductive.

I do not intend my arguments to be mean spirited or hateful, I have enjoyed our conversation even though we don't agree. I like you am simply trying to help people better understand what I believe and why I believe it.


Nancy Good review! I read this book when I was in high school in the 1960s and was initially really impressed. I think it was one of the first books I read with a really strong female character. Within a year or so I realized how cruel and unworkable Rand's vision was. I suspect that many who see her as visionary are stuck in the self centered world of a teenager.


message 14: by Jason (new) - rated it 1 star

Jason April, this is a brilliant review. And you are an excellent writer.


April Thanks, Nancy and Jason! :)


message 16: by Latha (new) - added it

Latha An excellent review. You wrote my mind. Why they have this spoil alert beats me.
Ayn Rand's man-woman relationship also lacks in finesse. Have you read, "Fountainhead" ? There is only one way to love. And that is for the man to jump on the woman & the woman to surrender. No need to talk or say anything ! Absolutely feudalistic. In today's world, which woman would subscribe to this ? What about dating, wooing, romance,...come on, talking ? getting to know a person ?
Is workaholism the only necessity in life ? We Indians go for arranged marriages. But even we cannot take this kind of man-woman 'love' or whatever that Ayn Rand means from her Russian upbringing. I'm surprised that as a free thinking American you have not expressed your views on this. All the same, it is a review I enjoyed reading. You could be a writer yourself. Thanks for sharing your opinion.


April Hi Latha, thanks! :)

I did want to comment on the relationships more in my review, but I reached a character limit in the Goodreads form field and actually had to cut my review down from the much longer length that it originally was.

For all the power and influence that Dagny Taggart has as a railroad tycoon, she was very submissive in the bedroom. The sex is antagonistic almost, might even be rape, and my first thought upon reading these scenes was that they are far more telling about Ayn Rand's own preferences than anything else, especially if that's how sex is often portrayed between the main characters in her other books. I saw Fountainhead, the movie, but I haven't gotten around to reading the book (not sure if I want to, given how she goes on and on in her writing), and the sex in that story does seem more like a power struggle than a tender, intimate moment being two loving individuals.

I think Rand liked the idea of being dominated by a man even more dominant than she was — the Alpha male — and that's why Dagny kept upgrading her men in the book; she kept moving on to the bigger, better Randian male, each guy even more rich, successful, and powerful than the previous one. Never mind that they are all d!cks in the bedroom.

But it goes hand in hand with her Darwinian philosophy. The sex is almost animalistic, reverting to animal instincts, with the Alpha male overpowering the desirable female. In Rand's mind, these tycoons are the "fittest" for survival, and everyone else be damned, and because she believes the economy should operate like the animal world, with the weak and unfit (those who aren't as capitalistic and enterprising as her heroes, obviously) getting killed by the predators, I am not surprised that she thinks sex should be anything like animals having sex.

There is no generosity in the sex she portrays, no playful teasing, no demonstrations of affection. It is all about the man showing his dominance over a dominant woman. The men WANT Dagny because she is an Alpha female, but for me there's not much else to why they want her. The desire comes only from what she is and what she represents, more than from who she is. It's a very shallow way of loving, such that I don't even want to use the word "loving" — as it makes it an oxymoron.

In fact, I much prefer the idea of arranged marriages to the idea that sex is a mere power struggle. At least in arranged marriages, the implication is that the parents are looking out for the well-being of their children, selecting mates that will be able to provide for them as they leave their homes; and the husband and wife come to each other on more equal terms, with the potential of them coming to care for each other as they get to know each other over the years.


Nancy April, have you read any of the biographies of Ayn Rand? I read Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. Ayn was portrayed as the dominant figure in her long marriage. While there were no graphic bedroom scenes in this biography, I did not get the impression that her love affairs were like those in her novels.


April Hi Nancy,

No, I have not read any of them. Interesting. I'm not surprised that Rand herself was a dominant woman, and actually neither am I surprised that she was the dominant figure in her marriage as well. Just because she wasn't with someone who dominated her doesn't mean she didn't wish for it. She probably never found someone to whom she would willingly submit, though she regularly fantasized about it. I am assuming she fantasized about it as she writes it in her sex scenes.

I think Atlas Shrugged is her ultimate fantasy — capitalists taking over the country, capitalist heroes dominating over a dominant woman.

No, I still maintain that she liked the idea of being dominated, even though she may not have practiced the idea in real life.


message 20: by Jason (new) - rated it 1 star

Jason I bet she'd kill to have been dominated by John Galt.


April She would have loved that — her fantasy hero come to life! :)


message 22: by Latha (new) - added it

Latha April wrote: "Hi Latha, thanks! :)

I did want to comment on the relationships more in my review, but I reached a character limit in the Goodreads form field and actually had to cut my review down from the much ..."


hi April,
Thanks. I do agree with you. In fact in one of her novels, she tells an "upgrade" of her former lover, "He raped me when he saw me" & the upgrade says, "He was in love with you. Wasn't he ?". What a contradiction ! A man who loves a woman cannot do anything to her without her consent leave alone raping her. Here it looks like the woman's consent hardly matters & it is only the alpha male (as you put it) who'd call the shots. In bedroom, if the man & woman are not equal partners, it is not an equation of lovers but of master & slave. That's why I call it feudalistic. Maybe it is the upbringing she had in Russia during & after the Bolshevik revolution that molded her thoughts & opinions & it is for the same reason that people like us who have been brought up in free thinking democracies are outraged while she is able to write such things casually. One thing is clear. She has not experienced the finer feelings of life & it had been a dog eat dog world in which she'd been brought up. That explains why she is so obsessed with materialism. If you don't know how to enjoy the finer aspects of life, what is there to live except work & money. Though she writes captivatingly, she belongs to another class. That's the reason we can't agree with her ideas.


April It's funny that you bring up equating love with rape. I've been reading a lot of old school romances, the ones that gave the genre the label of bodice-rippers, and I was appalled to find that so many of them had the hero raping the heroine repeatedly. It's so weird. I'm not even sure where it's coming from because they were written by American authors, during an age of feminism. So it may or may not have been Rand's Russian upbringing. It might have been the era itself, but I can't quite figure out what it was about the era that made women fantasize about rape so much.


message 24: by Antonio (new)

Antonio  Angelo I think it had a lot to do with sex being forbidden, a woman could be forgiven if she was taken against her will. You see the same thing in some older movies. It always makes me cringe.


April You may be right Antonio — I think that may be part of it. Also, it might appeal to a woman if a man is so overcome with desire for her he can't control his baser instincts. With as many women there are/were who indulged in the fantasy, it could be for any number of reasons.


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