Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is a long but enjoyable read about how government shouldn’t interfere with independent businesses or they will leave. As pro-capitalist the plot is, the novel is a great read. Treat is as any other novel instead of focusing on the message Rand is trying to get across in her last published novel.
Atlas Shrugged: Summary
As an economic depression looms over the United States in an unspecified year, Dagny Taggart has to make sure the Taggard Transcontinental railroad doesn’t fail. She is the vice-president of the company and also the brains behind it. Her brother Jim is the president one the company and a horrible businessman.
Jim isn’t the only male to disappoint Dagny in the novel. Her childhood lover and Argentine billionaire Franscisco d’Anconia is risking his empire by constructing the San Sabestian copper mines even though it is public knowledge that Mexico will most likely nationalize them.
And then there is Hank Rearden who creates a new Rearden metal, an alloy that is lighter and stronger than steel. But Rearden doesn’t comply with the State Science Institute and has his metal deemed unsafe without proof. But Dagny decides to take a chance on his metal to meet supply demands in Colorado.
The government passes laws and directives that hurt independently controlled companies and anyone who doesn’t abide by their demands. As the government starts limiting businesses and inventors, a phenomenon occurs across the country. Business owners and inventors are suddenly disappearing without a trace. That leaves Dagny and her company short on supplies as they try to stay float.
Where have the best minds in the country gone to? And can the government keep thriving without the greatest minds to help them. The answers to these question are going to determine the fate of the Taggart railroad and the whole world.
You can’t talk about the novel without discussing the overarching theme. Rand’s disdain for communism pours out of the pages. But just like 1984, the novel is an extreme and hardly a good example. In Rand’s scenario, the government is overstepping and is punished for it.
But you can look at today’s society and see how capitalism with little government interference can lead to businesses that are too big. And with that comes invasion of privacy, little competition and wealth centered with the one percent.
Without regulations, there will be little competition and innovation. A big company can monopolize and prevent newer and smaller companies from even entering the market.
Besides the politics of the novel, the other thing you need to know is that this is a big novel. The first edition has 1168 pages and that is gonna take at least a month to read for most people. You can definitely finish it faster but I found it to be too boring to spread through it.
Even though I might not agree with Rand or her ideas much, I still liked the novel. Reading contrasting views is always a good thing and keeps you from informed on what the arguments are on the other side. So I would recommend this novel but make sure to pace yourself.