Evan’s ESS = 9 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = PG-13 (Adult Content, Violence, Language, Unexplained Disappearances, Ineffective Government Policies)
“Who is John Galt?”
Why: To best describe our thoughts on Atlas Shrugged we will attempt to borrow a quote from legendary Piston Cup racecar, Lightning McQueen, “I create feelings in others that they themselves don’t understand.” This novel has the ability to do the exact same thing. Standing in at 1,300+ pages Atlas Shrugged is riddled with explosive themes that cut to the core of the capitalism vs. government control and self interest vs. self sacrifice debates. Needless to say we were licking our chops (although this was mainly due to the fact that we had just ended a 36 hour carb cleanse)!
The novel begins as Dagny Taggert, railroad executive for Taggart Transcontinental, begins to fight a series of uphill battle against difficult economical conditions and increasing regulation. The first half of the novel is filled with hardship after setback after hardship as the novel’s heroine is challenged with keeping the family railroad afloat amidst her brother’s incompetence. As conditions worsen, executives and innovators around the country mysteriously disappear, leaving their companies to ruin. Dagny is left with no choice but to begin a journey of self exploration as she attempts to uncover the truth behind the bedlam.
Atlas Shrugged was one of the better “long” novels we’ve read. The dystopian world smells and tastes a lot like America of the early to mid 1900’s, although there’s just enough differences to keep the reader guessing. The plot is engaging and the characters have the ability to elicit strong emotions. James Taggert and Wesley Mouch in particular were quite successful at spiking our blood pressure on multiple occasions.
Atlas Shrugged is positioned squarely on the side of individual achievement and entrepreneur spirit. And while events in the novel are taken to the extreme (we hope), Rand presents her case in a compelling and thought provoking manner. There were parts that we hated and there were parts that we loved. And then there was the lengthy speech by Mr. Galt advocating rational selfishness that nearly made our eyes bleed. Nonetheless, the novel is incredibly relevant as the debate over free markets vs government regulation continues to intensify.
Most importantly, Atlas Shrugged made us think, which is a good thing... we think. Actually, it is. The novel made us think a little differently about certain social/economic topics and reinforced our view on others. Rand should definitely be on your TBR list and if you choose this one, make sure you clear your reading schedule for a week or two.
Editor’s Note: Two Bibliomaniacs defines a “long” novel at 1000 plus pages.