Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Book Review: Atlas Shrugged

I really enjoyed Atlas Shruggedby Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged was written in 1957 and has been growing in popularity over the last few years. I decided to read it because I was hearing constant references too it in the news. I think one of the reasons it resonates with today's audience is that a number of the books events and characters have parallels in today's world.

Atlas Shrugged is set in a "future USA". The economy is beginning to collapse as the book opens, and the government becomes more desperate and more aggressive looking for ways to solve the crisis. The copy of Atlas I read was 1,069 pages long. Early in the book (around page 200), the government starts really interfering with business. Laws are passed restricting who can own what business, and where business can operate. The laws are always passed in the name of "protecting the country", and "are only because of the current crisis". Many of the worst laws and actions of the government in Atlas Shrugged have parallels in today's bailouts, health care and energy bills, and government takeovers. In the world of Atlas Shrugged, most nations of the world have become "Peoples Republics".

As the government continues to pass law after law, the economy continues to worsen. Many of the laws and policies of the "future USA" revolve around need. A guy asks for a job because he "needs" it. Laws are passed forbidding large companies from moving or opening at new locations because the smaller companies "need" a chance. These decisions are made regardless of whether the people asking for jobs can do the jobs. The government passes laws "protecting" small, unsuccessful businesses because the public "needs" them.

This book was the masterpiece of Ayn Rand, and really served as an introduction for her personal philosophy of Objectivism. It is very well written, and it is easy to see how it became a classic. However, it is a very long book, and requires a little bit (my wife sees it as an extreme amount) of devotion to see it all the way through to the end. There is one "three hour speech" towards the end that will probably take most readers a little longer than three hours to make it through.

I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys political thrillers, or classics. However, if you don't think you can handle a 1000 + page book that is pretty thick with politics and philosophy at times, stay far, far away. And I have to leave this review with a message for those of you who have read Atlas Shrugged:

"Who is John Galt?"


Anonymous said...

They don't restrict the abilities of big business in order to protect the small business. Not at all.

To the contrary, Ayn Rand was desperately afraid of how government was enjoined with giant corporations, protecting large established powers from the competition provided by small businesses.

Laws and regulations are weapons used by the lazy and incompetent business people to quash the upstart entrepreneur.

This is what Ayn Rand focused on. She did not care for insulating corporations from competition.

Andy D said...

Early in the book some of the laws are intended to protect the little guy. However, buy the end, the government is taking over entire industries, taking over both the small and the little guy.