Monday, September 3, 2012


That is the number of pages in the book Atlas Shrugged. You may curse Ayn Rand's name that many times if you choose to soldier your way through this book that weighs slightly less than a small sedan.

Love/hate is not strong enough language to describe my relationship with this book. It is, however, on a VERY short list of books that forced me to re-examine some of my own beliefs. For that reason alone, I view it as nothing short of a masterpiece.

The list of people wildy successful in their work who list it as a major influence in their life is endless. But it has also been read by an alarming number of scientists, bookworms, hardcore capitalists, hardcore Marxists, CEO's, hippies, social workers and every academic who ever walked the planet. Aspiring Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan said the book shook him at his core and changed his life forever.

(I'm aware that 50% of US citizens who know who their elected officials are like Paul Ryan very much; the other 50%, not so much).

Ayn Rand lived the first leg of her life under totalitarianism in the former USSR. Though she left barely a twenty year old to come to the United States, she witnessed plenty of what can go horribly wrong in what would be a political system doomed worldwide.

This book of dystopian fiction and most of her other works (fiction and non-fiction) chronicles the virtue of the profit motive fueled by each individuals maximum creative and innovative output, (i.e. their work). For people born without such innate talents, she professed it was their job to assist in the efforts of those who were to build a just and efficient society.

I agree with much if not most of what she writes. I think the book would have been equally effective at 584 pages. She also is a bit of a zealot. That understatement is analogous to saying "Paris Hilton is a bit of a no-talent".

Rand said many times subsequent to the book being published she realizes that very few people on Earth could ever actually live up to the ideals the books protagonists exhibited and lived. Rand's critics, past and present, paint her to be a heartless industrialist who would send all of the world's weak to the ovens.

Glad I read it, believe all people who consider themselves critical thinkers should read it and feel sorry for people I see on the train reading it who are ONLY on page 584.