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Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand

Reviewed by Lorenzo Princi
Atlas Shrugged   by Ayn Rand
Cover Concept by Lorenzo Princi, 11 March 2012
Who is John Galt?

What if he who held the world aloft decided to let go, giving up on those who inhibited his work? Ayn Rand proposes something very powerful in her epic novel. Though starting with the voice of a begger who kicks off the question which will echo from start to end like a pulse "who is John Galt?"

The book then walks us up to the pyramid top. We then stay in the halls of the rulers of the world, men of political influence, socialites and the kings of industry. The protagonist, Dagny Taggart fights to save her grand father's railroad against the looters (or government) who would use her ability to do in order to serve there own needs as they take over control of all industry. All the while, something is amiss; those who would be her allies, the great innovators, thinkers and artists of the world are one by one disappearing.

The setting, even though as real as ours, isn't specific to any time, the dystopia is equally 1930s as it is futuristic, akin to Fritz Lang's Metropolis. The importance of the railroad reminds us of the American frontier times however the focus on science and new more efficient technologies could be said to be ahead of its time.

Unlike her previous work, namely Anthem the author doesn't give us the type of triumph we expect. We don't see a sweeping victory by the men of the mind over the looters but rather a much darker road to victory via the great strike, letting the world descent into chaos and ultimately a dark age which will end with a renaissance. Only once all has collapsed and the looters literally get out of the way will John Galt (the man who stopped the motor of the world) reemerge.

This is Rand's great novel, the climax of her philosophy of individualism and objectivism. Her work has influenced the likes of Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek) and the thoughtful work of Canadian progressive rock band Rush. He unrelenting focus is on the achievement of man being the road to true happiness and only measure of value. Her protagonists are those who ask for nothing unearned and her antagonists are the looters, those who claim an equality not by their actions but by their birthright.

Influenced undoubtedly by her experience in the Soviet Russia which she fled, Rand's work is an amazing achievement. A must read, an epic in both scale and scope which though heavy in theme and complex in concept is absolutely readerable and at times quite the page turner. Rumour has it that the looters and butchers in Hollywood have a screenplay adaptation in their grabby hands so please, get out there are read this book, it is a big investment (over a thousand pages) but worth every word. Believe me you wouldn't want to read this book after seeing the movie and have Hollywood actors faces all over these larger than life characters.