Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Ayn Rand v. Whittaker Chambers

Today's National Review Online features an archived review of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged by Whittaker Chambers, former senior editor at Time magazine and author of Witness. I find the piece particularly worth reading because I greatly admired Ms. Rand's work in my teen years and even more greatly admire Mr. Chambers today. Follow this link and read the review.

Though Chambers is very hard on Rand, I think everyone should read one of her two big books, either The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. Her moral universe is not ultimately attractive once you get to know her, but she portrays the frustration of the productive and creative person with a society that seeks to claim the fruit of his labors and control him in a way that should give every statist pause.

I feel even more strongly that readers should go to Chambers' Witness, which is a compelling account of his escape from the Communist underground and subsequent mission to expose his fellow agents. Beyond the events depicted, one has the privilege of considering the sensitive heart of a man too gentle for this world. He was a rare soul.

1 comment:

David Kaziska said...

Well, Hunter Baker, I am taking your book recommendations seriously. It think it is likely that I'll read "Atlas Shrugged" before Whittaker Chambers.

About a month ago, you listed Walker Percy's books as some of your favorites. Saying something to the effect that Percy's books are the ones that young conservative evangelicals are likely to be carrying in their back pockets was enough to intrigue me. The first novel that read in this millenium is "The Moviegoer." Since then I have read 5 of Percy's 6 novels, and they struck a chord.

I'm not a novel reader, I purchased the three nonfiction volumes by Percy, and I've just started the first one. I have my points of contention with Walker Percy's thinking (that would be a whole conversation in itself) but have found Percy's fiction and nonfiction engaging.

Like Mr. Baker I am an evangelical Christian, a lawyer (at least I have a JD, I was in practice only for a year) but I am currently a PhD candidate. I suppose it is not surprising that we have similar tastes.

There really seems to be a good mix of conservative voices on this site (or, liberal voices, in the true sense of the word liberal). Economists, libertarian-leaners. At least one evangelical voice. Keep up the good work guys.