The Business section of today’s New York Times contains the lengthy article “Ayn Rand’s Literature of Capitalism,” detailing Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged‘s influence on executives and entrepreneurs.
The article begins:
One of the most influential business books ever written is a 1,200-page novel published 50 years ago, on Oct. 12, 1957. It is still drawing readers; it ranks 388th on Amazon.com’s best-seller list. (“Winning,” by John F. Welch Jr., at a breezy 384 pages, is No. 1,431.
The book is “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s glorification of the right of individuals to live entirely for their own interest.
For years, Rand’s message was attacked by intellectuals whom her circle labeled “do-gooders,” who argued that individuals should also work in the service of others. Her book was dismissed as an homage to greed. Gore Vidal described its philosophy as “nearly perfect in its immorality.”
But the book attracted a coterie of fans, some of them top corporate executives, who dared not speak of its impact except in private. When they read the book, often as college students, they now say, it gave form and substance to their inchoate thoughts, showing there is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit.
“I know from talking to a lot of Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s that ”˜Atlas Shrugged’ has had a significant effect on their business decisions, even if they don’t agree with all of Ayn Rand’s ideas,” said John A. Allison, the chief executive of BB&T, one of the largest banks in the United States.
“It offers something other books don’t: the principles that apply to business and to life in general. I would call it complete,” he said.
One of Rand’s most famous devotees is Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose memoir, “The Age of Turbulence,” will be officially released Monday.
Don Hauptman tells us:
The article was evidently prompted by the book’s 50th anniversary next month, as well as the publication of Alan Greenspan’s book this coming Monday.
Aside from a few minor errors and bizarre turns of phrase, the article appears generally accurate and is surprisingly favorable. Click to the resource page and you’ll find links to the 1957 Times review of Atlas, and what may be every article about Rand ever published in the newspaper.
In the print edition of today’s paper, the article dominates the front page of the Business section, taking up about three-quarters of the cover. I’ve heard that Saturday’s edition has the smallest print circulation of any weekday ”” but then, you can’t have everything.
Especially if it’s the New York Times. Still, this is some nice coverage of Rand’s impact on business culture.