Atlas Shrugged
                Atlas Shrugged is the epitome of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism. It depicts the struggle of ability over incompetence. There are two groups of people in this story. There are thinkers, the men of the brain, and the creators. And then there are the leeches, the parasites, and the incompetent. The story is set in the United States in the near future. The men of ability are disappearing from the face of the Earth as the world begins to fall apart and sniveling idiots seize control. A mysterious phrase that is used when a question is futile, “Who is John Galt?” becomes one of the central points in the book. John Galt becomes a symbol of the destroyer though in fact he is the redeemer. Though this story covers the lives of many people, it centers around one woman, Dagny Taggart. Dagny is daughter of a huge railroad empire, Taggart Transcontinental. At age 30, she is the Operating Vice President and basically in charge of the entire outfit. Her worthless older brother James is the President of the company. When the story begins, the incompetent have already seized control of the government and are doing the best they can to destroy the geniuses of industry. Regulations, sanctions, and taxes are imposed on oil, coal, and steel producers. Slowly, as the story progresses, every person that Dagny needed for the running of her railroad mysteriously vanish. The oil tycoon in Colorado, the engine manufacturer, her best contractor, all of her intelligent supervisors, the coal producer. Behind the disappearance of these people seems to be one man. Somehow, this man has chosen all the people of ability, and when they get fed up with feeding the world and receiving nothing in return, this man takes them away. Dagny knows this but she continues to hold on to the world. Her love for the railroad and her own ability to work efficiently and successfully motivate her to continue. She can’t stand to give up her hope that she may be able to survive in the world of incompetence, and she can’t shake the feeling that if she gives up, she is deserting all of the other men of ability who need her railroad. When she thinks of her railroad, her pride is in knowing that there is someone competent and intelligent on the train and that she is contributing to their success. Eventually, even Dagny is ready to leave and the world is left to be devoured by evil. John Galt who is a real person, not just a whimsical saying, led this strike of intellect against the world. Finally after years of seclusion in a private valley in the Rockies, he decides that, “The road is cleared. We are going back to the world.” Ayn Rand’s writing style is quite superb and it easily catches the attention of the reader. Her philosophy of objectivism is so profound and so different from the mainstream beliefs that even if the reader doesn’t agree they are drawn in to understand. I personally do not agree with her philosophy but I am startled and intrigued by the prospect of such an idea. Her characters are colorful and interesting. I was completely on the side of the protagonist and I hated the antagonist. When I was reading, I would get this feeling of annoyance whenever James Taggart started whining or sniveling. One of the downsides of her writing is that in some portions of the book, she is blatantly preaching objectivism. In one section of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt makes a three hour speech to the public explaining the morality of selfishness and the basic philosophies of objectivism. You can imagine how many words and how many pages it takes to write a three hour speech. I really wasn’t that interested in hearing the same basic ideas repeated over and over again, only using different expressions, words, and examples. Besides this one flaw, I thoroughly enjoyed Atlas Shrugged. This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world -- and did.
                “If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of this strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders – what would you tell him to do?”

                “To shrug.”