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The Fountainhead & Atlas Shrugged

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The Fountainhead & Atlas Shrugged – By Ayn Rand

 “Who is John Galt?”

A simple line that begins ‘Atlas Shrugged’. A cry of despair and helplessness that echoes throughout this book… does it find an answer and solace by the end?

‘Howard Roark’ – a name that sprang out of the pages of ‘The Fountainhead’ and became immortal.

The central character of ‘The Fountainhead’ is Howard Roark, an architect. He is a man unwilling to compromise on his principles. According to him a building must have integrity like a human being; it must be composed of a single theme and ideal. He does not want to build to have clients; rather he wants clients so that he can build.

He is met with severe opposition from the world around him. Does Roark triumph in the end and at what cost? The answer to this lies in this unique book.

“Atlas Shrugged” was written next in the 1950s. It is a combination of mystery, philosophy and science fiction. Ayn Rand once said “It’s a mystery story, not about the murder of a man’s body, but about the murder and rebirth of man’s spirit.”

It is set in an imagined future where all the countries in the world have turned to communism and there’s chaos everywhere. Even in the U.S.A, the government is taking over everything. Slowly, one by one, all the leaders in fields like science, philosophy, medicine, music and technology in the world start disappearing leaving the economy and the government in disarray.

Dagny Taggart, the heiress and operating vice president of Taggart Transcontinental, a giant railroad company, is convinced that there is a destroyer who is draining the world of its greatest brains and is determined to fight him/her to save it. As the world slips into further depression, people continuously express their helplessness through the line ‘Who is John Galt?’ But no one knows whether there was a John Galt, and how this line originated.

Does Dagny manage to find out the reason behind this massive exodus? Where have all the productive minds actually disappeared to? Does a John Galt really exist? What is the secret unlocking all these mysteries? The answers to all these are contained in this thrilling narrative.

Both the books are very thrilling and unique. There are flaws in them, of course. For example, in many places characters stop and delve on philosophical matters for a very long time. This disturbs the narrative economy and the flow. The lengths of the books may deter many readers.

But in my opinion these are minor blemishes. Also, as MBA students, I feel these books are very important for us. The excellent debates within them, the beautiful thoughts expressed about the nature of money, business, and indeed life itself, and the lessons of leadership that one can derive from them are invaluable.

Both ‘The Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged’ continue to live on even today, years after Ayn Rand passed away. During the recession in the late 2000s, sales of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ increased, with people feeling that they could further connect to it. Many CEOs have said that they benefited a lot reading it.

It’s my recommendation that you read these books. They will surely entertain you and set you thinking. You may not agree with everything they say, but you will not be able to deny their impact on you.

Anirudh Jayaram
MMS – A 

Batch 2011 – 13

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