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atlas shrugged

 
Trailboss
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Thanks to the public library and their books on tapes program, I finally finished "atlas shrugged" by listening to bits and pieces during my commute.

The world seems a different place now.

I think the book has changed my life for the better. And I can say that it is a great book. But I have to say that I was a little disappointed ... at no point did I ever forget that I was reading (can I say "reading") fiction. The characters were obviously wearing white hats or black hats. Reality is more about people with gray hats - generally struggling to have a whiter hat. (okay, there was one exception where "the wet nurse" started off with a black hat and then switched)

I also thought the book was a bit speachy/preachy at times.

But! The most important thing ... several things in my head that were a little fuzzy and hard to pin down are now clear as a bell. At least twice a day I find myself thinking " .... like in the atlas shrugged book."

Just wanted to share.
 
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Check out this book review by Whittaker Chambers, (who was the editor of Time Magazine and the Communist Spy who become an important informer for the US government. (His court case involved Alger Hiss and one of his lawyers was a young Dick Nixon.)
 
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Man and I thought this was about MS Atlas....crawls back into the C# world...


Eric
 
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I think the book has changed my life for the better.



Cool.

There is no book in the world that influenced who I am today than Atlas Shrugged. I have read it in book form three times already.

"We never had to take any of this seriously, did we?"

Mark
 
paul wheaton
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Originally posted by John Dunn:
Check out this book review by Whittaker Chambers, (who was the editor of Time Magazine and the Communist Spy who become an important informer for the US government. (His court case involved Alger Hiss and one of his lawyers was a young Dick Nixon.)



It seems that he didn't care for the book.

He makes some good points in his whining about the book. The same points I made, I think.

Perhaps Rand can get a little license to skip a richer character set because the picture she is attempting to paint is so BIG already. Richer characters would just make the book even harder to read and could dilute her greater message.

Another possible interpretation: perhaps she chose simpler characters the way that some photographers choose black and white instead of color film. It was an artistic choice.

Phrases that I've heard that have a whole new meaning now:
  • "It's not my fault."
  • "I couldn't help it."
  • "What's good for the people."


  • And I now look at what is happening between the agricultural industry and the government and it just looks ... really, really bad.
     
    Leverager of our synergies
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    Paul: The most important thing ... several things in my head that were a little fuzzy and hard to pin down are now clear as a bell.

    Paul, could you tell what these things are? I heard a lot about the book (in this forum ), guess I should read it... I was reluctant to, because I read her essays and they were... well, kinda dumb. But then it is not unheard of for great writers to write dumb things in their more direct, non-fictional works. Dostoevsky is one example. On the other hand, I wouldn't say Dostoevsky's novels cleared anything in my head...
     
    paul wheaton
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    Map,

    I'm pretty surethat this author is from russia. Could be wrong. A few years ago I saw an interview with her. If it is true, you can really sense it in the book - down with communism and up with capitalism.

    She paints a picture of people in power. The people with white hats feel powerfully compelled to work hard and do good things. The people with black hats want to think big thoughts, have money and ridicule the people wearing white hats. The people with white hats produce things, and, thus, money. The people with black hats consume things/money, and rather than produce, they tend to complain a lot.

    The message the book had was that folks that say they are looking out for "the people" are really looking for an easy way to line their own pockets. The message I choose to have after reading the book is that there are a lot of people like that. And there are a lot of good people that are looking out for others too.

    The book really drives home seeral whining statements that whenever I hear them now I can't help but put a black hat on that person. I guess I've been brainwashed in that way. But it is amazing how certain people and events now make more sense to me. I hear people complaining long and hard about how something is wrong and needs to be corrected. And for a long time I wanted to help repair those issues. But now I see the real problem clearly. Or, at least, what the problem most likely is.

    Some people work hard and reap a generous reward becuase of their effort. Some people do no work, but whine a lot about what the world (or, more accurately, the productive members of society) owes them.

    Before, I thought that everybody wanted to be productive and that some people just have different ways of being productive. But now I feel that I see some people don't want to be productive. In any way. Or that they want to be productive in a way that has no value to anybody else, but that somebody, somewhere, should compensate them for their effort anyway.

    Well, I'm doing a very poor job of relating what the book paints a picture of. And I'm doing a poorer job of expressing how it has changed the way I think.

    There is a great deal that I think the author wants me to think, that I don't buy. But I think she does make a damn good point and I am grateful to understand what what she is trying to say. Now that I have read it, I think I have another way of understanding where other people are coming from.
     
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    This author Ayn Rand, has always caused lots of controversy - I really loved her books, but it's been a couple of decades since I read them. To me it's almost like holy wars over agile development. There are some folks who say that you have to do agile 100% or nothing, and some people who say you can take good stuff from agile without having to drink the entire glass of kool-aid.

    I got a lot of good stuff from Ayn, and I didn't feel I had to drink the entire cup of kool-aid.
     
    paul wheaton
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    With agile, you get only 20% of the benefit if you drink only 80% of the kool-aid.
     
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    I have to agree. As much as I enjoyed 'Atlas', it seemed more like a fable then a story, meant to convery a non-too-subtle point. To be honest, that's pretty par for the course for her writing. 'We The Living' has more character development, but it's not really what I would call a great novel.

    IMHO, her best book was the FountainHead. It seems to focus on the positive aspects of individualism, without being too terrible bothered by what non-individualist do.

    A few years ago, maybe five or so, this quote from The Fountainhead seemed particularly apt: You can just feel the amount of true, genuine, sincere, unembarrassed love she has for the genius of man, and the things it can manifest. Notice, in the reading below, that she seems to have as much love for the men and minds behind the buildings, as for the buildings themselves.

    "I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window - no, I don't feel how small I am - but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body."

    I envy you, Paul. You're in for a treat of readin'
    [ February 28, 2006: Message edited by: Max Habibi ]
     
    Marshal
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    Ayn Rand seems to be one of those authors you read when you're about 18 years old. I did, too, but none of it rubbed off on me. But if you don't like black and white, try "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".
     
    John Dunn
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    Paul, Whittaker Chambers used to write for the Communist Paper ( The Worker?) that was located down on 14th Street, in NYC. From there he had a "falling out" with the Party and disappeared, actually going underground and becaming a Communist spy. Eventually he has a turn of heart over the actions of Uncle Joe and goes on the lam to escape the Party and evenutally becomes an informer for the US govt. So his critique, I believe, is not just against her book, but against the theme as well.
     
    paul wheaton
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    Originally posted by John Dunn:
    Paul, Whittaker Chambers used to write for the Communist Paper ( The Worker?) that was located down on 14th Street, in NYC. From there he had a "falling out" with the Party and disappeared, actually going underground and becaming a Communist spy. Eventually he has a turn of heart over the actions of Uncle Joe and goes on the lam to escape the Party and evenutally becomes an informer for the US govt. So his critique, I believe, is not just against her book, but against the theme as well.



    There's no doubt that the book is just a carrier for her philosophies. But I don't think she really tries to hide that. The whole thing has a very propaganda feel to it. But overall, she did have a good plot, good story, and I felt I could easily dismiss some of her less worthy stuff.

    I can see how a communist guy would really hate the book.
     
    paul wheaton
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    Originally posted by Paul Clapham:
    Ayn Rand seems to be one of those authors you read when you're about 18 years old. I did, too, but none of it rubbed off on me. But if you don't like black and white, try "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".



    A guy in my office said he read it when he was in college and thought "whatever." And he is re-reading it now and is having a powerful experience.

    I read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" a year or two ago. I got about 70% of the way through the book before it started to bore me to death. I did think that the first 20 pages were quite excellent. And the first third of the book was pretty good. But once he started going off into philosophy land, I just couldn't stick with it any more.
     
    paul wheaton
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    Fountainhead, eh? Looking at the library ....
     
    paul wheaton
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    fountainhead audiobook is now on hold although it looks like there are a lot of holds ahead of me.
     
    Bert Bates
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    i think if i could recommend only one it would be fountainhead
     
    Mark Spritzler
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    "We the Living" is a tough book to read from her.

    Whereas, "Anthem" is really easy. Kind of a short book. For those Rush fans out there "Anthem" is the foundation for the concept album 2112.

    Mark
     
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    One indication as to how controversial Ayn Rand and her books are: Ayn Rand Wikipedia Bio is "protected from editing until disputes have been resolved". You don't see that very often.

    I remember it was quite a shock reading "Atlas Shrugged". I felt like I was rediscovering what I already knew, yet I had been fearful to realize that knowledge.

    I came across a reference somewhere that "Atlas Shrugged" is the second most influential book (after the Bible) in America. But it seems that most Americans never read this book.
     
    Mapraputa Is
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    JS: I came across a reference somewhere that "Atlas Shrugged" is the second most influential book (after the Bible) in America.

    That was before Harry Potter!
     
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    Searched my whole College Library in want of this book.But alas can not find and do not have too money to buy it .Well FMI tell me if this book is available in India and if yes then wahat its cost?
     
    paul wheaton
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    Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:

    That was before Harry Potter!



    While Harry Potter is probably the most read book (and I think the series is far more enjoyable to read than AS), it is not as influencial.

    Atlas Shrugged has had a major impact on how I see the world. I cannot say the same for Harry Potter.
     
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    Originally posted by agrah upadhyay:
    Searched my whole College Library in want of this book.But alas can not find and do not have too money to buy it .Well FMI tell me if this book is available in India and if yes then wahat its cost?



    It is easily available in India and should cost less than INR 100 if bought from local shops. Original copy also should be less than INR 500.

    I'd love to post my views on this book, but later maybe. Another long post....

    - Manish
     
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    Paul: While Harry Potter is probably the most read book (and I think the series is far more enjoyable to read than AS), it is not as influencial.

    I wrote this mostly out of frustration. I searched the Russain Internet for the text, and it took me a while to find it. In my favorite library I looked into "foreign prose" category, where all "serious" fiction goes, and there was nothing. Turned out, they put it into "foreign fantastics" (something that corresponds to both "sci-fi" and "fantasy"), together with Ursula LeGuin, Clifford Simak, Lovecraft etc.
     
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