Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand


15 Critic Reviews

Rand may be shrill, but the high-pitched urgency of her writing and uncomplicated morality also gives the book an irresistible force...I hated the thing, but I couldn't put it down.


Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand’s magnum opus: a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller.

Who is John Galt? When he says that he will stop the motor of the world, is he a destroyer or a liberator? Why does he have to fight his battles not against his enemies but against those who need him most? Why does he fight his hardest battle against the woman he loves?

You will know the answer to these questions when you discover the reason behind the baffling events that play havoc with the lives of the amazing men and women in this book. You will discover why a productive genius becomes a worthless playboy...why a great steel industrialist is working for his own destruction...why a composer gives up his career on the night of his triumph...why a beautiful woman who runs a transcontinental railroad falls in love with the man she has sworn to kill.

Atlas Shrugged, a modern classic and Rand’s most extensive statement of Objectivism—her groundbreaking philosophy—offers the reader the spectacle of human greatness, depicted with all the poetry and power of one of the twentieth century’s leading artists.

About Ayn Rand

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Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision which sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired. During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and-in 1917-the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free men could be. When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long an admirer of cinema, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screenwriting. In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter. On Ayn Rand's second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were married until his death fifty years later. After struggling for several years at various nonwriting jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., she sold her first screenplay, "Red Pawn," to Universal Pictures in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was completed in 1934 but was rejected by numerous publishers, until The Macmillan Company in the United States and Cassells and Company in England published the book in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels, it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny. She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the character of the architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as "he could be and ought to be." The Fountainhead was rejected by twelve publishers but finally accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. When published in 1943, it made history by becoming a best seller through word-of-mouth two years later, and gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism. Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel, Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged. Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatized her unique philosophy in an intellectual mystery story that integrated ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles which make such individuals possible. Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy-Objectivism, which she characterized as "a philosophy for living on earth.". She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for six books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in her New York City apartment. Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies are sold each year, so far totalling more than twenty million. Several new volumes have been published posthumously. Her vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth have changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.Leonard Peikoff is universally recognized as the pre-eminent Rand scholar writing today. He worked closely with Ayn Rand for 30 years and was designated by her as her intellectual heir and heir to her estate. He has taught philosophy at Hunter College, Long Island University, and New York University, and hosted the national radio talk show "Philosophy: Who Needs It."
Published April 21, 2005 by Signet. 1188 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Children's Books, Law & Philosophy, Cooking, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Atlas Shrugged
All: 15 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 8


Above average
on Nov 02 2011

The story is a challenging one; the manner of the telling holds reader interest, despite the unnecessary length; there's enough of sex to provide its mead of shockers; and there is the odd allure of fantasy, a sort of science fiction appeal.

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Below average
Reviewed by Sam Jordison on Mar 27 2009

Rand may be shrill, but the high-pitched urgency of her writing and uncomplicated morality also gives the book an irresistible force...I hated the thing, but I couldn't put it down.

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Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer Lafferty on Nov 09 2012

The characters in “Atlas Shrugged” are often seen as lacking depth of emotion or being one dimensional. In most novels, this would be considered a serious flaw. However, this book is primarily a vehicle for Rand’s philosophy, so characterization is not as important as it would be in a typical mainstream novel.

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Daily Kos

Below average
Reviewed by matate99 on Mar 26 2009

Hopefully none of you have wasted your time with what I like to call a 1169 page door stop. This book is honestly worthless.

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The New American

Above average
Reviewed by Charles Scaliger on Apr 16 2011

...there is much to enjoy in Atlas Shrugged. But, as with so much creative output in our secular age, the work is marred by its hostility to so many of the very axioms — like Christian virtue and enlightened self-denial — that gave rise in the first place to Western Civilization, with its commitment, however uneven, to individual liberty.

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The Blue Bookcase

Above average
Reviewed by Meagan on Sep 10 2011

Even the concept behind the title is brilliant. Atlas Shrugged. The man holding up the world just...stops...

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Books: A True Story

Above average
Reviewed by Jessica on Jul 22 2013

Overall, I liked this book for the plot, characters, and story but I wasn’t sold on her philosophy which I disagreed with.

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InkSlinger Blog

Above average
Reviewed by THE INK SLINGER on May 10 2013

Finishing Atlas Shrugged has also given me a feeling of exasperated curiosity – the kind that desperately wishes to ask Miss Rand a single, pointed question: “How could you get so much right, and yet get so much wrong?”

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Below average
on Sep 08 2014

It was a torturous read and I do not recommend it to anyone who isn't reading it to get something in exchange, like a scholarship, or a grade. There is nothing to be gained from this book other than a good night's sleep.

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Below average
on Jul 01 2012

This is not a review. Quite simply, Atlas Shrugged is review-proof; those who love it will defend it to their last breath, and those who don’t will condemn it for its many glaring faults, the least of which is that it is painfully overwritten.

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Below average
on Dec 12 2010

Atlas Shrugged starts off nicely, but is sadly reduced to beautifully written propaganda after the first part of the book – and as much as I enjoyed Rand's prose, I really dislike reading propaganda.

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Asian Efficiency

Above average
Reviewed by Aaron Lynn on Apr 03 2012

If some of what we’ve summarized resonates with you, I suggest starting by grabbing a copy and reading it for enjoyment first. Then have a think about the message, and what you agree or disagree with. Then pick a few things, and begin to implement them into your own life.

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The Objective Standard

Above average
Reviewed by Craig Biddle on Jan 27 2014

Atlas Shrugged is first and foremost a brilliant suspense story about a man who said he would stop the motor of the world and did. But the book is much more than a great novel.

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Fr. Z's Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf on Apr 12 2011

There is something flawed at the heart of her thought, however...That said… aside from the objectivism and some of her more turgid prose, her book reads as film noir ought to feel.

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The Word Zombie

on Jun 01 2010

This book had a profound impact on me – not only for what I learned, but also for what I confirmed. I saw so many of the things that I believe echoed in the words on those pages.

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Neha 15 Jun 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

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Rated the book as 1 out of 5

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