I recently finished reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, published in 1957.
This review contains spoilers, but I've tried to keep them at the minimum. The book describes a dystopian United States where socialism has become mainstream. Heavy government regulations are driving the country to its downfall when industries cannot make profit and eventually go bankrupt. At the same time the most brilliant minds of the country are mysteriously disappearing, and the government assigns jobs to people not based on their skill, but need. Everyone is asking, "who is John Galt?" and no one remembers where the question originally came from.
Dagny Taggart is a businesswoman running a railroad company with her brother James Taggart. The story clearly shows how regulations make their business harder and harder by the day.
Francisco d'Anconia is Dagny's childhood friend and is running a copper industry. He is smart, but intentionally makes bad business decisions.
Hank Rearden is running a steel company and has invented a new type of metal that is cheaper and stronger than any other metal, but the government does not like him and tries to prevent the metal from getting into market. Dagny Taggart is his biggest customer.
John Galt is a man who doesn't like the current society and wants "to stop the motor of the world", and leaves the society and builds his own secret society with other intelligent, productive people.
Main themes of the book include morality of capitalism, property rights, individualism, objectivism and rational thinking. There are many reasons for the downfall of the country. The society glorifies mediocrity and it's believed that no one can truly know anything about the reality. People talk using vague terms, restrictions can be broken if you have social status, and people try to get value from others without giving any value back.
The secret society is a free market and free mind utopia. Everything a man owns is earned through his own work. There is no government and thus no regulations on productivity. Every man is in charge of his own happiness. People value their life and work and produce high quality products and make new inventions.
Before I read this book, I read the Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged contains many same themes but explores them in more detail. I liked the book very, very much. It's immensely deep when dealing with things like morality and property rights. Seven virtues are explained: rationality, honesty, justice, independence, integrity, productiveness, and pride. Every one of them helps man survive. The Fountainhead contains only one strong individual, but Atlas Shrugged contains many. John Galt and his friends are portrayed as men who are perfectly in control of their life, emotions and happiness. Every decision they make is based on rational thinking and they never violate their own moral code.