Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I finished it. Finally. 1000+ pages. Done!

And I only skipped about 10 pages of the world's longest, preachiest, most repetitive soliloquy ever uttered by a single character.

I have mixed feelings about the book. I thought the philosophy and social commentary were very provocative. I'm not sure I agree with half of what was said, but I must admit the story forced me to think. In fact, it forced me to think so often that I would read 5-10 pages and find myself needing a break just so I could digest what had been said, hinted at, or talked around. I think the need to stop and think had a lot to do with the parallels between fiction and our current reality. Oh, sure, things aren't quite as dreadful for us as they were for Rand's characters, but the potential is there. I think that's the most disturbing thing about her book. The exposure of underhanded greed and the corruption of governmental power in her book echo our current situation.

The truth is there was so much philosophy, economic theory, and social commentary in this book that I don't know if I can fully articulate even a fraction of what Rand was attempting to get across. Calling Atlas Shrugged a complex read would be sugar-coating things. This book is tough. Tough to read, tough to digest.

I often felt as if the author had set out to debunk a few literary stereotypes. It would be very easy to see the protagonists in this story as villains if the tale had been told from a slightly different vantage point. After all, the protagonists' actions leads to all sorts of disasters and catastrophes that ultimately result in the end of the American government and brings society to its knees. I couldn't help wondering what this story would have been like if it had been told from the other perspective, if the Movers in this story had been portrayed as the villains instead of the other way around. Then I realized it has been, at least a thousand times and in every genre.

After finishing the book, though, I think Rand truly believed (believes?) the story she told. I believe she shares the philosophies set down in the text.

All in all, I'd say this was an interesting read. I would also say another read through might be necessary, but I'm not about to undertake it any time soon. Maybe not at all.

If you'd like a synopsis of the book and the central philosophies explored in the massive tome, I suggest checking out Wikipedia. There might be some inaccuracies, but the plot and major philosophical issues seem to be covered.

However, if you'd rather just wait for the movie, it should be released in 2009.