(did a search before posting, and all i really found were discussions about the movie, or ayn rand herself -- and none of them were posted in the book forum so GFY if you have a problem with my starting a thread about the book itself).
so after 2 months, i finally finished the thing. i'm not exactly sure what my overall opinion about the book is, but i do have some thoughts:
- i wasn't much of a fan of the 3rd act. when the story was about 2 giants of industry struggling to keep hold of their businesses from ever increasing governmental control, and being the only two people in the world who understood one another, that was something i really enjoyed reading. but when secret valleys full of the world's brightest minds on strike, 70 page radio addresses, government taking prisoner a private citizen and trying to force him into a dictatorship role and shootouts at secret torture chambers came in to play, it kind of made the story silly in my eyes.
- it was awfully repetitive. the version i read was 1,069 pages and the font was $#@!ing small. it was almost as if rand didn't trust the reader to understand her philosophy the first 5 times she spelled it out, so she went ahead and spelled it out a 6th or 7th time as well.
- in spite of it's length, i don't feel that the book did a very good job in showing how galt was able to successfully get all of these giants of industry to walk away from everything. it was understood when dagny and rearden finally walked away because we spent the entire book with them and saw how bad things got for them over a course of years (the chapter where rearden finally gives up may have been my favorite chapter in the book, btw. at least up until the point where there is a government staged riot in front of his factory). but at the start of the book, things didn't seem to be all that bad (at least for hank and dagny) and yet most of the world's best minds were already chilling in colorado.
i just wish the last third of the book had been different. i understand the idea of a strike against the government, but i think rand went too far with making the government so clearly 100% the bad guy. i mean, passing a directive that if you quit your job you will be arrested just doesn't really come across as realistic to me. the book was set in the united states, not communist russia (and yes, i know that is where rand was born and shaped many of her beliefs/philosophies and the world was a much different place in 1957 than it is today), but it just seemed like too much.
i'm glad i read it though. regardless of how i fell about the story told in the book, i do agree with rand that government is generally a leach upon the best a society has to offer and i feel like she did a fairly good job displaying that in the first 2/3 of the book. i just wish the ending had been as good as the set up.