Monday, March 09, 2009

Rising Interest in Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged"

Book sales for "Atlas Shrugged" (2007-2009):

Google Trend search volume for "Atlas Shrugged" (2005-2009):

THE ECONOMIST -- Reviled in some circles and mocked in others, Rand’s 1957 novel of embattled capitalism is a favourite of libertarians and college students. Lately, though, its appeal has been growing. According to data from TitleZ, a firm that tracks bestseller rankings on Amazon, an online retailer, the book’s 30-day average Amazon rank was 127 on February 21st, well above its average over the past two years of 542. On January 13th the book’s ranking was 33, briefly besting President Barack Obama’s popular tome, “The Audacity of Hope.”

See related
Freakonomics post.


At 3/09/2009 5:00 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hmmm, kind of sad really... Its a lot like closing the stable door AFTER the horse has left...

At 3/09/2009 7:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


There's a depression on... go get it at the library. Besides the Mastercard is probably already maxed out. The library is free!

At 3/09/2009 9:28 PM, Blogger Paul Hue said...

Curious for similar stats on competing bell-weather tomes, such as Zinn's "People's History of the US" and Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent", vs. Friedman's "Free to Choose" and Smith's "On the Wealth of Nations."

Today the Zinn/Chomskey-ites are having their day, having their hypotheses disproved again. How sad that people perceive Bush II as a Rand/Friedman/Smith-onian.

At 3/09/2009 10:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently realized probably the most ridiculous thing about Atlas Shrugged.

Atlas Shrugged is set in a as US is in decline and the rest of the world is in full blown MEGA-depression. So, one question.

Who the hell is Hank Rearden selling his steel to? What is Dagny Taggart transporting on her rail lines? How much is the oil that that Texas guy (forget his name now) is selling? $1/barrel?

You know how they had that movie "Day After Tomorrow" and afterward there was a lot of debunking of it from the scientific community.

I think Atlas Shrugged deserves the same treatment from the economic community.

Its economic fiction that makes no sense.

At 3/09/2009 10:59 PM, Blogger DaveinHackensack said...

"There's a depression on... go get it at the library."

The paradox of thrift.

At 3/09/2009 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its economic fiction that makes no sense.

Exactly how I feel about your posts.

At 3/10/2009 1:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Reviled in some circles and mocked in others".

I loved the book but you have to hand it to the Economist for a great turn of phrase:-)

At 3/10/2009 6:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Its economic fiction that makes no sense."

There are many problems with the story, but don't forget: Atlas Shrugged is primarily about philosophy, not economics.

At 3/10/2009 9:57 AM, Blogger misterjosh said...

I'm in general agreement with Ms. Rand on the precepts of her book, and her philosophy in general, but Atlas Shrugged is poorly written crap. Shame really.

At 3/10/2009 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a great book. Long. But, captivating throughout most.

It's of no surprise that the likes of Mach would disapprove of it. Anything that challenges their worldview makes them uncomfortable.

Mach, should we call you Dr Ferris perhaps? Or Jim Taggart?

To answer your question, the steel being produced and shipped is that which is needed to keep the worlds motor running. Rearden made superior steel, better than his competitors. So, the fix was in through the "equalization of opportunity" bill to cripple Rearden. The insult was made worse when the "fair share law" mandated Rearden give the secret to his success to his competitor. They were entitled (via a gun to the head) to a fair share of his profits.

Sound familiar?

If the book was crap it would not be popular after over 40 years in print. It is a timeless classic.

At 3/10/2009 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Sound familiar?
If the book was crap it would not be popular after over 40 years in print. It is a timeless classic."

Mach's just upset because there weren't any pictures.

At 3/10/2009 3:25 PM, Blogger bobble said...

anon12:49 "Anything that challenges their worldview makes them uncomfortable."

that exact same thing could also be said of many of the ayn rand/rush fans on this blog

At 3/10/2009 3:31 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"that exact same thing could also be said of many of the ayn rand/rush fans on this blog"...

Are you saying that people should take the delusional world view of liberals instead?

At 3/10/2009 3:40 PM, Blogger Paul Hue said...

As a "reformed leftist" who traveled from the Noam Chomsky / Howard Zinn view to the Friedman / Hayek view, I report that the lefties are far less open-minded, and far less likely to have ever even considered the opposing view, much less to have started on the other side, and found that life experiences and newly acquired data eventually flipped their switch.

Most of my family and friends remain devoted leftists. Rarely will they even talk politics with anybody who disagrees with them. When they do, though, of course it is always from the perspective of somebody who's held the same view since the age of 16. I can't think of a single rightie friend of mine who doesn't welcome dialog with lefties. Although some of them began their intellectual lives as righties, most were lefties in college.

At 3/10/2009 5:39 PM, Blogger QT said...

As I understand it, Atlas Shrugged is an allegory. This form of didactism may be perceived as prescient and insightful to some or reductive and dated to others.

I have not read Atlas Shrugged generally preferring non-fiction. What occurs to me is that a work of fiction is very much like a work of art. What strikes a chord seems to vary from individual to individual. It largely depends on one's perspective and experiences as to what one finds interesting, informative or entertaining.

You all know far more than I do about Ayn Rand. Just wondered by what standard we judge a work of fiction. A great book is more than a deft combination of words involving the development of character, action, levels of meaning, capturing dialogue, etc.

At 3/10/2009 6:17 PM, Blogger bobble said...

1 asks:"Are you saying that people should take the delusional world view of liberals instead?"

hi juandos. no i wouldn't advise that either.

there are good ideas from the right, the middle, and the left. one needs to consider them all. does one group always have the correct answer?

At 3/10/2009 6:25 PM, Blogger QT said...

Well argued, Bobble.

At 3/11/2009 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We must not forget that a major reason for rise in search of 'Atlas Shrugged' (esp in Google trends) is that Jolie and Pitt are supposedly being cast in the movie by same name. Its another story that this movie is still unsure!

At 3/11/2009 1:43 PM, Blogger Paul Hue said...

Jas: Good call! I'm expect the resulting movie to be horrible. For a really good Ayan Rand film, please see the classic "Fountainhead", with Gary Cooper & Patricia Neal:

Astonished that super lib Brad Pitt would make an Ayan Rand film. However, he supposedly did very useful work in helping after Katrina, with residents praising his efforts.

Big Gov critic John Stossel even used Pitt as an example of how private charity is efficient and effective, compared to the billions wasted in govt funds directed to NOLA. Stossel interviewed NOLA residents praising Brad Pitt for rebuilding their homes, while they waited forever fruitlessly for the government money, which seemed to have done a great job of funding drunken stripper weekends, but not rebuilding.

Imagine if all the govt Katrina rebuild dollars were instead in the pockets of evil rich people. Could that have possibly led to any less beneficial results for NOLA residents?

At 3/13/2009 5:35 AM, Blogger Craig said...

Let's roll the top tax rate back up to 91%, the rate it was when this POS was published, and watch the wealthiest 2%'s heads explode.

At 3/20/2009 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting post

At 5/12/2009 9:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

ya, there would be about 0 as you say Ayn Rand fans that would even remotely like rush.

And Economicly it is right on exactly...and mistakes hmmm, Try reading it again and take your time and think it through.

When your done read Socialism by Ludwig von Mises then read it again slowley.

Come on guys did you actually read it yet????

At 7/06/2009 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Atlas Shrugged requires atleast two readings and perhaps hearing it one more time. Her concepts revealed through this steamy novel of suspense removes the curtain of clouding our ability to see what our government has become over the last century. Much like finding the Wizard of Oz! If you haven't read it you must. It requires your mind. $8 copies are available through the Ayn Rand Institue.

At 2/16/2010 4:21 PM, Anonymous Pugilista said...

To Anonymous Anonymous...

Don't you realize that libraries are just a socialist plot to turn us all into commies?! Those are my tax dollars paying for that copy of Atlas Shrugged (oh the irony)! Stop sucking at the teats of the welfare state, like some helpless freeloader, and buy the book already.


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