Rebirth of Reason

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Atlas Shrugged: quirky, postmodern
Posted by Michael E. Marotta on 10/20, 3:59am

"Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, is a classic American novel about individualism, the power of society, and the determination of self-selected leaders. Complex and difficult in places, it is in many ways the first postmodern novel."  -- The Leader's Bookshelf, edited by Admirial James Stavridis, USN (Ret.) and R. Manning Ancell. Naval Institute Press, 2014. 269 pages, $29.95.


This is a collection of 50 reviews of books recommended by four-star generals and admirals. Necessarily, most are about war. Some, such as To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, are not. A closing chapter present works recommended by young leaders, junior officers. Some of those, such as The Killer Angels, are the same as those presented by the general staff. Others were not. Though Ender's Game was recommended by Gen. John Cartwright (USMC, Ret.; vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Starship Troopers was placed in this chapter.


That book, Atlas, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, and Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, were under the subhead, Quirky Outliers.  Clearly, Adm, Stavridis did not like Atlas Shrugged. And that is understandable. Even though Ayn Rand's essay "Philosophy Who Needs It" began as an address at a West Point graduation, it takes some deep consideration to reconcile the merchant's morality to the warrior's way. Primary to that disconnect is Ayn Rand's denunciation of "duty." 

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