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  • Atlas Shrugged

  • By: Ayn Rand
  • Narrated by: Scott Brick
  • Length: 62 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,057 ratings)

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Atlas Shrugged cover art

Atlas Shrugged

By: Ayn Rand
Narrated by: Scott Brick
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Summary

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—nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Atlas Shrugged is the "second most influential book for Americans today" after the Bible, according to a joint survey of five thousand people conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club in 1991.

In a scrap heap within an abandoned factory, the greatest invention in history lies dormant and unused. By what fatal error of judgment has its value gone unrecognized, its brilliant inventor punished rather than rewarded for his efforts?

This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world—and did. In defense of those greatest of human qualities that have made civilization possible, he sets out to show what would happen to the world if all the heroes of innovation and industry went on strike. Is he a destroyer or a liberator? Why does he have to fight his battle not against his enemies but against those who need him most? Why does he fight his hardest battle against the woman he loves? The answers will be revealed once you discover the reason behind the baffling events that wreak havoc on the lives of the amazing men and women in this remarkable book.

Tremendous in scope and breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand's magnum opus, which launched an ideology and a movement. With the publication of this work in 1957, Rand gained an instant following and became a phenomenon. Atlas Shrugged emerged as a premier moral apologia for capitalism, a defense that had an electrifying effect on millions of readers (and now listeners) who had never heard capitalism defended in other than technical terms.

©1985 Eugene Winick, Paul Gitlin and Leonard Peikoff (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Atlas Shrugged

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Thought Provoking and Surprisingly Brilliant

I am writing this as a British socialist - expecting Republican Tea Party Propaganda from the text - instead I was shocked by the many (long) Shakespeareanesque soliloquys through the speeches of several inspirational characters - expounding views that challenged my own political dogma of altruism and utilitarianism.
In particular the polemic "from each their ability, to each their need"; was both criticized and discredited. I also realised that the author's passionate belief that this simply negates human autonomy and creativity and replaces it with an emasculated, feckless and dependent societal mass, prey to an unscrupulous dictatorship and centralist control may very sadly be true!

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Outstanding book, outstandingly read.

Everyone should read this book. It is very well written and thought-provoking, and wonderfully brought to life by Scott Brick.

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Long but worth it

62 hours is quite a commitment but it does not feel long. This book does not leave anyone indifferent, whether you agree with the characters' views or are fervently against them or (like me) fluctuate from one side to the other. Definitely worth the effort!

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More a project than a casual read, but worth it

With a novel with such a strong cult status as Atlas Shrugged, it is difficult to approach the novel from an objective view point (no pun intended). The novel has inspired everything from approaches to laissez faire economics to people’s self pursuit of becoming a Randian hero, essentially Nietzschean like Superman.
Ayn Rand’s novels are carriers of her philosophy of objectivisim, but they are ultimately just that, novels, and one has to be prepared to endure the realities of reading a novel. At times an overly long and somewhat disjointed novel.
The novel can be difficult reading at times, with often no clear beginning, middle or ultimately end. It is overly heavy on dialogue, much of which seems inconsequential, making the novel difficult to follow at times, and completion can seem like something of a mammoth task.
For this reader it took 3 attempts before actually reading the novel all the way through to completion. So, one may wonder, was it worth it?
If one is highly motivated to understand Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, then perhaps one could say yes. Similarly, even if one is unacquainted with the notions of Objectivism and one wishes to absorb ideas that challenge one’s mind, then Atlas Shrugged is definitely worth a read.
One may ask, what are the key ideas? Well, the novel revolves around a world that is heavily trending toward socialism, with “People’s States” appearing globally and the United States trending toward heavier governmental control.
A general zeitgeist can be observed wherein one is pressured toward subordinating their creative and entrepreneurial energies toward the collective and shamed as selfish and irresponsible for resisting the popular notions. However, the regulations are presented as being stifling toward commerce, and ultimately, industrialists begin to retreat and withdraw their energies.
The book explores the futilities of philosophical concepts, such as notions that the mind itself does not exist (a notion held by the misguided zeitgeist of the time) only for the ensuing strike of industrialists providing the triumph of the mind.
The most famous name associated with the novel, John Galt, does not appear until well into the second half of the book, until then he is a name mysteriously eluded to in conversation, often appearing randomly under the phrase “who is John Galt?”
The actual main event of the novel, the strike by industrialists is difficult to discern due to the heaviness of the dialogue, and no clear beginning or end can be discerned within the text, unless one gives their utmost attention to the book.
So, one may ask, is all the effort worth it? It depends on one’s motivations. If one wishes to understand Objectivism, this can be done in a far more concise way, however, the novel, if properly read and understood, buttresses Rand’s philosophical notions and explores them in a dialogue all of her own. In some ways similar to Plato’s dialogues, however, far less concise.
Think of Atlas Shrugged as being less a casual read, and more of a project. It’s a book that will be with you for weeks, likely months unless one is a quick reader. Patience is required to complete the book, and one needs to read between the lines at times, so for such reasons it is far from an easy read.
The book is relevant for our time, or previous ages, as it provides a reminder that one should rely on one’s own instinct and resist the herd mentality of the times. In the book, it is the herd mentality trending toward Socialism, in our day and age it is the herd mentality trending toward medical totalitarianism. Both use shaming, as explored in the novel, and both can stifle the human spirit. The alternative is provided by Rand, man’s own rationalism and pursuit of one’s own interest.
Read only if you are highly motivated to immerse oneself in the Randian Philosophy of Objectivism, or are already attracted to popular notions of individualism.
The narration by Scott Brick provides a range of different tones, allowing one to discern from different characters in the dialogue, and is rather suitable for that of a novel.
For an audio book, best listened to on one's travels rather than at home, as one may become restless. Atlas Shrugged requires great patience, but is worth it in the end.

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so so so very good

What made the experience of listening to Atlas Shrugged the most enjoyable?

my advise is to skip the intro as it has a plot spoiler and go straight into the first chapter of the book. The back story of the first few hours may seem tedious but stick with it as the story, the plot development, and the motivation of the characters is beautifully realised. Listening/reading this book is a must.

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Very enjoyable

Quite a long book but I'm sad it's over. Very much worth it if you are interested in Rand's philosophy.

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Brilliant. Only the ending is a bit vague

The book describes the purpose of human existence in the form of a story. The characters are brilliant. Only the ending is childish and stupid.

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Enjoyable but lengthy heroic epic with some faults

This book was a tough to swallow. Narrator made a very good performance. The story is good, very good in fact, but could be condensed into a much smaller book or split into several separate books which occur in the same universe. Author almost blathers about every detail but most of the time I felt it was worth it. For a good example in one part Ayn Rand explains in detail a train catastrophe happen minute by minute which was some of the most solid horror writing I've experienced in a while and social commentary on issues regarding responsibility and "human errors". It is my favourite section by far. I'd cautiously recommend Atlas Shrugged based on that chapter, "The Moratorium on Brains".

The book has a very ambitious structure. I don't think it was too challenging but to stay float but one must constantly remember the on-going main plot lines which I'd identify there being four. Each of those have their own sub-plots which must be kept in mind as well. For example there is literally a sub-plot which begins in the first third "non-contradiction" part only to continue next time some thousand pages later in the last third "A is A" part. It's easy to lose track because of this. Rand can and does sometimes casually remind of the more important details but that isn't enough to get full picture.

Sometimes if and when you forget what's going on, Rand's opinion of people and their value structures can seem quite negative. It is easy to misunderstand her intentions with some characters. And h.o.l.y s.h.i.t there are a lot of characters and variety to them in this book. Some of which are important for the story but not for the reader leaving a really hollow cardboard impression of them and their motives. Characters are often very black and white caricatures as well to nail down a point.

I went into this book with an expectation that it is a sci-fi book with some action and politics since I am coming to this from Bioshock computer games. After going through it I now think that this is a women's romantic fiction novel with a dystopian sci-fi shell with some action and a lot of politics but also little bit economics, philosophy, mystery, suspense, thriller, detective, theology, horror (the psychedelic kind), court room drama and civics.

There isn't a simple way to categorize this, is what I am trying to say. Everyone can probably find something to like about. The ultra heroic super businessmen of this book can offer a lot of motivation and goals to your life if you're a "wanderer". There is also a lot to hate if you take this book too seriously. One could say these include a critique of feminist theory, a direct attack against Marxism and almost propagandistic promotion of ultra capitalist fantasy just to name something.

Ayn Rand is also the undeniable queen of monologues due to an uncut political speech near the end which lasts several hours. The point of that was to hammer down every idea she wanted to push with this book. It's a bit like Agatha Christie's endings where the great detective collects all parties of an open case to listen what the detective has to say regarding the mystery.

I think Rand makes a crucial mistake in placing all her bets in counting that human beings have 100% free-will and can act rationally all the time keeping our emotions in check. I think we aren't that kind of robots but that is what separates black and white characters of this book into good guys and baddies camps. There is also a huge emphasis on philosophy of Aristotle in several key moments.

I probably would have loved to read/listen what would have followed this book as her style would have probably improved and become more focused. However sadly this was the final fiction book the author wrote.

I also must add that Ayn Rand makes some pretty funny remarks with high relevancy to our modern internet-connected world about e.g. kebab, fake news, activist journalists, attacks on people's hobbies, emotionally driven people, thots and soy boys during the long duration of the book (all of which get a specific mention and then some). These almost perfectly mirror the SJW culture of today which shows that she knew at least on some level in 1950s how certain kinds of people generally behave and what motivates them... or perhaps they've always behaved like that. I thought that was pretty amusing.

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Transfixing

Slow start but once I got into it I couldn't put it down. It is so true as to what is happening all around the world especially the African Continent. The greed of man.

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Must read, for high tax payers despised by society

How much value do different people generate? How much do they deserve in return for generating it? How much right does society and the common good have to the success of those individuals? Why are the wealthy so often regarded as undeserving and disliked for being so? This book answers these questions with a brilliant narrative.

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6 people found this helpful