Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, 4/5
Rand’s writing is skilled, insightful, and compelling, but the argument for her personal philosophy of objectivism is not convincing. The fact that objectivism works for the heroes in the world she creates is more a tribute to her skill as a novelist than her prowess as a philosopher. One scene in particular drives home the unreality of the reality she creates: the heroine, Dagny, in an airplane with four gorgeous, intelligent, dominant men, with three of whom she has had incredibly serious, ostensibly meaningful, emotional and sexual relationships, who all still love her, respect each other and get along in brotherly harmony. Nothing in my experience and observation of humanity makes me consider this a remotely possible or even desirable scenario. The intellectual unsoundness of Rand’s philosophy becomes obvious in the 55-page monologue near the end of the book. Her persistent use of straw man fallacies reveals that she lacks a basic understanding of the psychology of religion and of philosophies other than her own. However, her cold artistry, perception of raw human psychology, and the epic characters that populate a dystopian future, result in a massive novel that is both a pleasure and a challenge to read.
P.S. XKCD just did an excellent comic about Rand. The mouseover is the best part.