Independently Published, 2019
306 pp. $16.99 (paperback)

Author’s note: This review assumes knowledge of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and contains spoilers.

In So Who Is John Galt, Anyway?, Robert Tracinski provides a wide-ranging examination of Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. For those who have read the novel and wish to dig deeper, this collection of twenty essays is an excellent companion.

In a chapter titled “Whydunit?,” Tracinski examines the role of philosophic speeches in the novel. In a conventional “whodunit,” the reader receives the same clues as the investigator and has a chance to identify the perpetrator before the big reveal at the story’s climax. Tracinski points out that the big question in Atlas Shrugged is not who done it—after all, the prime mover is revealed when one-third of the story still remains—but why he and his fellow conspirators do what they do. As Tracinski points out, by the end of part two, Dagny Taggart has solved many of the book’s mysteries: She’s found the inventor of the motor; she’s discovered that he is the “destroyer,” the man facilitating the world’s brain drain; and she has located the creators he’s siphoned from society. “Yet,” writes Tracinski, “this is not the resolution of the plot, because the real mystery isn’t the ‘who’ or the ‘what.’ It’s the why” (177). . . .

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