rating: 5 of 5 stars
Even after a sixth reading, Altas Shrugged remains one of my favorite books. I wanted to try the audio version this time. As far as that goes, I was not disappointed. (PLEASE do not listen to the abridged version. It pains me to think of what you would miss). Christopher Hurt is the narrator, and he was excellent. He differentiated between the major characters in a very subtle and effective way. I especially enjoyed his depiction of James Taggart as a whiny, self-important louse. And Francisco's voice was divinely perfect. I definitely recommend the audio version.
Ayn Rand uses this and others of her novels as a means to illustrate her personal beliefs and philosophies. While I don't agree with every aspect, there is doubtless much to gain through an understanding of it. This is a very lengthy book and it is impossible to briefly explain her philosophy. I can only say that when I read it I want to be a more responsible and productive person. I want to assure myself that I value others for their accomplishments and expect myself to never begrudge another for what they have rightfully earned. Of course it doesn't automatically follow that I do these things, but the desire is there!
Perhaps Rand's philosophy (known as Objectivism) is repetitive. We are in no doubt of her message by about half-way through the book. But the story itself is compelling. And while the heroes are all beautiful, god-like creatures, and the villains are typically fat, frumpy, and horrible, I still love Rand's depictions. Dagny Taggart, our main character, is fallible in all her perfection. I want her to grasp concepts as soon as her extreme intellect should, but doesn't. But these are the things that make her human. Dagny's story is amazing, mysterious, and very well-written. I have a feeling this won't be the final time I read it.
A word about charity: This novel may come off as anti-charity. Anti-brotherly love. Anti-Christian. And it may have been intended that way. But I perceive it a bit differently. I view it as a choice. I should be charitable--not because I am forced to or because I feel pressure to do so--but because I choose to.
An interesting side-note: I once bought a copy of Atlas Shrugged at a used book store. The owner of the store proceeded to tell me that it is one of his favorite books and that he requires all of his employees to read it.
A tid-bit about Ayn Rand: She did not believe in God. The reason? She could not believe in an entity to which she could not aspire. If she could not become a god herself, she refused to believe there was one at all. Interesting, yes?
This book is an investment. An investment of time and thought. But it is so worth it!
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