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Reviews Comments: Good to learn the Philosophy. terrible as a novel Atlas Shrugged film/book review by Hippoboy

Just to give some background info, I was fascinated by the concept of objectivism by playing through Bioshock so I ended up getting the book to learn more about the Philosophy. I also did not finish the book but got pretty close.

First the length, if you want to read this in a reasonable period you would want a REALLY comfy chair, I can read fairly fast but being well just over 1000 pages (at least in my version) its a daunting read so prepare for a literary marathon. Now as a source to learn the Philosophy of Objectivism its really good, the speeches while are incredibly informative and really helps you understand the concepts involved. I never got to the massive speech by John Galt, but I did enjoy the one which was more or less 'greed is good'. As a novel this book is damnable annoying, the characters are inherently unlikable for one their 'sue-ness' makes them almost totally unable to sympathize with. To give a example of the terrible characterization would be Rearden, now you can kind of sympathize with him because he fights to protect his life's work but its impossible to like him for the most part because put simply he's a jerk. He does show some respect to other entrepreneurs but often is unnecessarily cruel, mostly to his family who seems to some reason spend all their time insulting him but still, he seems to go overboard in breaking his family to get them to stop, and he still maintains their lifestyle for some bizzare reason.

Now there are besides my irritation at the characters (who I may be a bit fuzzy on the details on their actions since it's been a while since I was reading the book, there are some more flaws, such as the two dimensional nature of most of the villians, the fact that apparently The U.S is the world (it only does some throw away lines suggesting that Europe is now a communist hell hole) and yet its economic collapse affects no-one else. There are also wallbangers such as the train incident which enraged me and also confused me mostly because I didn't have the required knowledge to work out how a railway networks.

In summary, not a great book if you enjoy well written fiction, however if you can abide the characters and the paper thin setting you will find a very approachable and fascinating book.


  • Cliche
  • 2nd Jul 10
Definitely have to agree that the ideas are interesting, if not something I agree with, but the story is terribly written. Slightly related, one thing I always found jarring about the book is its Broken Aesop. The book constantly preaches how great individualism is with Dagny and Rearden, and then John Galt shows up to take their individuality away because he is right about everything and no matter what.
  • Hippoboy
  • 25th Aug 10
I barely got up to the bit with Galt, I just put the book down and didn't pick it up. He was annoying mostly in that he takes the objectivist ideal to fanatic levels rendering a annoying and unlikeable character.
  • 2nd Sep 10
"then John Galt shows up to take their individuality away because he is right about everything and no matter what"

Does he take anyone's individuality away, really? Somewhat with Dagny, since she's submitting to him in accordance with Rand's views of sexuality. But joining the strike is every man's own choice. And judging by the Gulch, his plans for the future are somewhere short of totalitarian dictatorship.
  • Walpen
  • 19th Sep 10
However much I enjoyed this book, I must admit I read it for the speeches. The characters are mostly quite flat and not very interesting. I actually thought that Rearden was the most complex character, and therefore the most interesting. It also never said that the US' collapse never affected the rest of the world, but you are never given anything about the rest of the world other than it's a hellhole (though it is stated that the US is giving aid to Europe and one can guess that the US failing would destroy Europe).

I would have to disagree that it's a terrible novel, sure most of the characters are bland, the heroes are too perfect and Galt is the worst character I've ever come across, but there are some interesting characters, and I found the plot exciting (YMMV). However, if you read it as a novel and not for the philosophy, its probably disappointing.

  • robybang
  • 20th Jan 11
I personally liked the plot and some of the shorter speeches. The characters aren't very well rounded though, and I thought to myself, "If this was written by someone who's opinions I disagreed with, would I enjoy it as much?" After some thought, I realized I don't like political cartoons, one sided political/religious webcomics, pundits, or books with strong political overtones. And as a creator, I would rather drink battery acid than write political cartoons or novels with blatant political themes. I would agree that the philosophy is interesting, but if it wasn't for the fact I agree with some of Rand's views, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it.
  • Hippoboy
  • 12th Feb 11
I only got a little further than when Galt was introduced, when it came to characters I think Rearden was the worst. I went from liking to hating him in constant cycle's. Yay he's a brilliant inventor and great industrialist, ok now he's a an asshole to his family (especially his brother who is apparently a bastard despite being attempting to help Rearden and at worst was foolishly idealistic in what, for the book, were the wrong ideals.)

There is also the matter of his relationship with his wife, which is so messed up on both sides that honestly its painful to read.
  • StevePotter
  • 28th Aug 11
The speeches made the book even worse. I don't care about Objectivism, I don't like it, and I think that it's a horrible philosophy. The book serves as a poorly-written love letter to this horrible philosophy.
  • EnigmaticSpirit
  • 28th Aug 11
Pretty much the book appears to be "If you watch fox news, you will like the philosophy but dislike the story. If you don't, you will hate all of it." That is all.
  • eveil
  • 28th Aug 11
Pretty much any book with an Aesop can be described as "If you agree, you'll like it (maybe), else you'll hate it".
  • Zoor90
  • 20th Oct 11
"Pretty much any book with an Aesop can be described as 'If you agree, you'll like it (maybe), else you'll hate it'."

That's not really true. There are films like Birth of a Nation or Triumph of the Will that while presenting messages that a vast majority of people will find disgusting are still hailed as good films that revolutionized the mediums. Their messages were reprehensible, sure, but they still managed to be good pieces of art. Atlas Shrugged simply isn't good art, and it never really tried to be. Its whole purpose is to celebrate Objectivism and any other aesthetics such as narrative, character development and such are neglected. Thus, it is completely fair to say that liking Atlas Shrugged is dependent on agreeing with its philosophy or at least being interested in it because beyond philosophy it doesn't really have anything to offer.
  • eveil
  • 20th Oct 11
^That's for more analytical or objective people.

Most people won't view Birth of a Nation or Triumph of the Will very positively because of their messages.

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