Tessa's classic book review: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged      With the recent filming of a movie version of Atlas Shrugged, there has been a lot of attention paid to Ayn Rand and her works.  Atlas Shrugged and  The Fountainhead vie for the title of masterpiece of Rand's writing.  As a young English major I devoured all her works, finding the philosophy behind them intriguing and attractive, although diametrically opposite to the faith I follow.  I find similar themes in many authors' works--humanism elevated to something noble. Ultimately, Rand and her followers founded a school of thought called objectivism which has become either an accepted philosophy or a cult, depending on the source. Adherents have been some of the elite of our nation, including former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan.
        My main conflict with objectivism is the egoistic selfishness at its heart.  For Rand, charity is hurtful to the recipients, and one must do what is right for one's self, regardless of the consequences for others.  The books are beautiful and excellent pieces: the main characters are very attractive and intelligent; the plots are intricate, exciting and well-written; but they are all false constructs.  Reality is neither so clear nor as well-defined. That said, I still particularly recommend Atlas Shrugged, as Rand's greatest expression of her world vision.  It is incredibly detailed and fully visualized in its riveting story of social influence, corruption and change. The characters are complex, and their thrills and tragedies are played on a national scale. Complete with action, conspiracy, romance, and lots of drama, the book is a sober look at completely narcissistic and humanistic lives. No humor or self-doubt whatsoever--Rand took herself most seriously and took her protagonists as far as she herself could go. ~ Tessa    4 stars out of 5, with reservations