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I Have Come to Bury Ayn Rand

My father, Sloan Wilson, wrote novels that would help define 1950s America. I loved and admired him, but the prospect of following in the footsteps of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and A Summer Place was like being expected to climb Mount Everest. My love of nature provided an alternative path. I would become an ecologist, spending my days researching plants and animals, which fascinated me since the summers I spent as a boy at Lake George and a magical boarding school in the Adirondack mountains.

Little did I know that by heading away from the madding crowd of humanity and my father’s vocation, I would end up writing a sequel to another famous novel of the 1950s—Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. But don’t get me wrong. I’m no Rand acolyte. I’m not here to praise her ideas but to bury them.

Even if you never read Atlas Shrugged or anything else by Rand, you probably know the names and what they stand for: The sanctity of the individual and the pursuit of self-interest as the highest moral ideal. Rand constructed an entire philosophy around this called Objectivism, which she claimed could be fully justified by rationality and science. But it was through fiction that she reached her largest audience, with Atlas Shrugged selling over 7 million copies and still widely read. She wisely noted that “Art is the essential medium for the communication of a moral ideal.”

My sequel to Atlas Shrugged stars John Galt’s grandson and features Ayn Rant.

The hero of is John Galt, a supremely self-confident inventor. He has figured out a way to turn static electricity into an inexhaustible source of clean energy. But Galt and his kind are living in an America veering toward the kind of ham-fisted socialism that Rand escaped when she immigrated from the Soviet Union in 1926. Galt brings about a rebellion of the “producers” of the world, like the mythical Atlas shrugging the earth from his shoulders, so that the “looters” and “moochers” can be brought to their senses. The centerpiece of the

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