This is the second book that I had read of Ayn Rand, the first being ‘the Fountainhead’. ‘The Fountainhead’ was a great book, so I had no qualms in picking up ‘Atlas shrugged’ despite its formidable volume.
‘Atlas Shrugged’ is a philosophical novel, as is the case with nearly all of Ayn Rand’s works. The philosophy which she presents in the book is very appealing.
The story follows Dagny Taggart, the Vice President of the railroad giant Taggart Transcontinental, struggling to live upto the legacy of her grand father. She realizes that most of her struggle is directed against her inefficient brother James, the president of the company, who indulges in gross nepotism and misguided charity at the expense of the company. He and his friends ‘in Washington’, hinder her in any plan that she seeks to execute. All the while facing a government bent on enforcing its control over the industry and restricting free trade. That and her race to find the mysterious John Galt, who was convincing all the bright and successful men and women to leave the rotten society and disappear.
Dagny Taggart could be said to be the protagonist of the story. Although the story’s theme itself revolves around John Galt, he does not make an appearance till we are half way through with the story. The main characters of this book are similar to the main characters of other novels by Ayn Rand. They are single mindedly devoted to their work and look down upon frivolities. They are something of “Code Heroes”. Though I will allow myself to say that in this book, they were more human than in The Fountainhead.
The philosophy that Ayn Rand describes through her work is called Objectivism and rational selfishness. It is a widely acclaimed and debated philosophy which she was the first to espouse.
Ayn Rand is a good author and she can capture the interest of the reader through most of the pages of the book, though I must say that it DID drag in places. One has to put effort to get through some of those parts. I also felt as if the author has sort of lost the plot towards the end. The end was so suddenly fast paced, that it left me slightly disappointed. It seemed that Ayn Rand was seeking a quick end to her Magnum Opus.
Despite the sudden end, it was a good read. I found her philosophy very interesting. The story itself had an amazing concept.
OVERALL, I will give it a 4 / 5. Definitely one among the fifty books to read before you die.