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Just a book?

Just a Book image by Matthew Broomhead

Who is John Galt?

In this Article I want to write about a lady born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. The information comes from various sources. At age six, she taught herself to read. At the age of nine, she decided what her career was going to be.

In 1917 she was eyewitness to the Bolshevik revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father’s pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she took America as her model of what a nation could be.

When her family returned from Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. After graduating in 1924 she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist “thugs”. Amidst the increasingly grey life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long an admirer of cinema, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screenwriting.

Leaving the Soviet Union

In late 1925, she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.

On her second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio and offered her a ride to the set of his movie “The King of Kings”. He gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O’Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were married until his death fifty years later.

After struggling for several years at various nonwriting jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO Radio Pictures,, she sold her first screenplay “Red Pawn” to Universal Pictures in 1932. Around the same time she saw her first stage play “Night of January 16th” produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway.

She went on to write a bestselling book that became a Hollywood movie in 1948.

That in itself would be an amazing story, but for me that is where her work actually starts…

Who is this female Author?

If I told you her name it may give away the book.

In 1946 she started her major novel. It was finished and published in 1957. Over ten years to write a novel. Was it worthwhile? The average book sells about 250 copies a year and a few thousand in its lifetime. This novel has sold more than… 7 million copies.

So why is this one of my favourite books?

I am not a book reader. I find it difficult to read, but once I started this I couldn’t put it down. Initially I avoided it because it was 1166 pages. 1166 pages! That is the equivalent of three books in one go!

It starts with this question

….Who is John Galt?

And then goes on to explore these questions…
When he says that he will stop the motor of the world, is he a destroyer or a liberator?
Why does he have to fight his battles not against his enemies but against those who need him most?
Why does he fight his hardest battle against the woman he loves?
You will know the answer to these questions when you discover the reason behind the baffling events that play havoc with the lives of the inspiring men and women in the book.

You will discover why a productive genius becomes a worthless playboy . . .
Why a great steel industrialist is working for his own destruction . . .
Why a composer gives up his career on the night of his triumph . . .
Why a beautiful woman who runs a transcontinental railroad falls in love with the man she has sworn to kill.

It is a book written around 60 years ago, that seems to have more relevance today about society, work, the media, politics and people than ever before.

What if the producers in society that actually create value, financial wealth and employment through business (the people that make things happen with creation and innovation) suddenly decided to go on strike and disappear? What would happen to society where the majority feel they are owed something without effort in return?

To finish with I will give this warning – if you like your current attitudes to society and the world then avoid this book.

Some characters you will resonate with and others will frustrate you.

Can a work of fiction change people’s lives? I think we all know the answer to that as there is a plethora of evidence.

The author?… Ayn Rand

The book?… Atlas Shrugged

Matthew Broomhead
“Raising the level of Business Skills in Britain”
Creator of Broomhead Business Channel

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