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Anthem
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Equality 7-2521 who speaks of himself in the first person plural makes a few discoveries that lead him to rethink the nature and purpose of man.

I will not go through this short story blow by blow, as the fun in this book is to discover what Equality 7-2521 discovers. Would you draw the same conclusion or follow the same course? You will find yourself kibitzing and cringing.

"You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." (Brihadaranyaka IV.4.5)

For the person that is new to Ayn Rand this is as good place to start, as any and it will be an eye opener. If you have the time to read "Atlas Shrugged" the concepts, thoughts, and speeches are more complete.

Pro or con, you cannot afford to pass this book. You may be surprised to find that you are surrounded by Objectivists.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2004
Having read THE FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED many, many years ago, and having both those books completely change my life, I wanted to see what ANTHEM was all about. One often fears that a great writer has "used up" their energy and creativity in their major opus, and this was my hesitation in coming to this book. But my fears were unfounded, for ANTEHM is just as good as anything else Rand has written. The characters are as deep and complex as they are in her other works, and as usual, she has a powerful message. While I tend to stick with a good page-turner like THE DA VINCI CODE or THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD, I do occasionally go back to what I term "classical" writers. ANTHEM is one book that Rand fans must read. Shorter and less heavy than FOUNTAINHEAD or ATLAS, this makes for a great summer read.
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Anthem by Ayn Rand is by far the best book by hers that I've read in a long time. I have several of her other books already and have gone so far as to underline the most meaningful parts (I've read each several times). She says things that others are afraid to say for fear of being (gasp) selfish. She, in her books, tells us that it's ok to be selfish, that it's our duty to look out for ourselves first. No one else will look out for you other than you. I realize that's an extreme way to look at things, but in this day and age of if you are more successful than your neighbor you get taxed more to help "others". Helping and the insidious guilt for not doing so is a terrible way to enforce this forced servitude as Ms. Rand calls it. Her books and her philosophy are eye openers indeed. It's a pity she isn't around anymore to keep writing what we all know is true but afraid to say most of the time. It's even worse to know that when we do speak up about the status quo, we get shut out like the characters Howard Roark and Dagny Taggart.
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on December 30, 2003
I spent the two hours or so reading Ayn Rand's novella of individuality with a satisfactory smile. Through all my years of schooling, I had never been introduced to Rand's work or perspective. I am so glad I stumbled across a reference in a book I was reading recently.
Rand's story of breaking the chains of socialism and collectivism struck the soul of my inner belief system. In the self or ego lies the soul of a human. The inner drives and wants make up the man. We all strive to find and perfect ourselves and find answers in this world. That is what makes us human. By being held back by a society's preconceived notions and goals, we are denied our rights as humans. This is the purpose of "Anthem," which is thematic of the scores of times throughout history man has risen up to take on a powerful society.
Rand's style was smooth, concise and to the point. My favoriate line, one I read several times, was early in the work when Equality 7-2521 was struggling to find the answers of nature. Rand writes: "The secrets of this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those who will seek them."
For too long, different civilizations have stiffled the creativity of all man, leaving the search for knowledge left to a chosen sect of society. "There is noting to take a man's freedom away from him, save other men," Rand writes. "To be free, a man must be free of his brothers. That is freedom. This and nothing else." By saying this, Rand does not dimiss the brotherhood of society. She simply says a man cannot be free unless he alone searches for his true nature, his EGO.
It is for this EGO to which we truly live.
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on October 27, 2003
Ayn Rand's book, Anthem, is an incredible book that highlights the benefits of a free, individualistic society, over the Collective (the type that is presented by liberals, the Democratic Party, professors, media types, and other elites who "care" for us).
Anthem is a story about an individual who lives in a Collectivist society--the same type that would appear in communist Soviet Union or today's communist Cuba. I can see that these types of societies are not to be desired. Instead of thinking in terms of "I," everyone thinks of themselves in terms of their membership in the larger society, and thus the use of the term "we" to describe their ideas. Notice that identity politics today is very similar: if you are a member of a certain racial or ethnic group, you are expected to think in 'we' terms; whatever the group thinks should be accepted, regardless of your own best interests. (That is one reason why, for instance, President Bush's conservative judicial nominees, who are minorities, are being rejected. It is because their group leaders insist that they think in the 'we' context as opposed to the 'I.' If you think like an individual, be damned).
We see the triumph of the individual at the end of the book. There is a lot of emotion involved in this book. For instance, the hero in this novel notes that there was a period of time when people were free, when the Collectivist voices were just starting to take root. Yet, people were ignoring the concerns the Individualists had, and thus the Collectivists took over. We see the same thing today: the Collectivists are on a rampage: they think anytime we pay less in taxes it is evil; they insist that the government pay for health care, retirements, loss of wages due to unemployment, loss of wages due to competitive global markets; universal schooling, etcetera. It is just a way for the Collectivists to get a greater hold on us, yet few are paying any attention.
We ignore this book at our peril. Just like many of the other books warning us of the dangers of Collectivism, we should never forget that what may appear theoretical may just be true.
Thankfully, in this book, people will fight to regain an individualistic society. People will rebel. Thomas Jefferson said rebellion is good every now and then. A free society can encourage people to leave the unfree societies--exactly what is happening right now in America. We attract people from all the unfree corners of the world. And when our own individual states become unfree -- California, for instance -- there is a rebellion, a move back to an individualistic society. Ayn Rand was very right, indeed.
-- Michael Gordon
Los Angeles
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on June 4, 2003
Personally I liked this book. Although it was relatively short, it gave good characters, plots and interesting events. The characters in this book faced a futuristic reality of the society of today. More and more, people are being reluctant to change. As in the Anthem, Rand shows how to much control can alter the minds of many. I liked this book because it has a sense of realism and it also warns people about the danger of complete control. To many, the community in the book may seem as an utopia but it has many flaws. Technological growth of the world is suppressed. Rand really shows how wrong communism is for the future of our world. Although Rand's vision of communism appears very impossible, it may happen. The attitude of people is that if something doesn't work, try something else. However, this is not always the way to go. In the book, they are afraid of returning to the "Unmentionable Times", so they completely steer clear of anything that might remotely come close to returning to those ages. Instead, they should try and fix what exactly went wrong. Above all, I felt that this is a great book for anyone that would like a stimulating book that can be read in less than 2 hours.
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on June 4, 2003
Personally I liked this book. Although it was relatively short, it gave good characters, plots and interesting events. The characters in this book faced a futuristic reality of the society of today. More and more, people are being reluctant to change. As in the Anthem, Rand shows how to much control can alter the minds of many. I liked this book because it has a sense of realism and it also warns people about the danger of complete control. To many, the community in the book may seem as an utopia but it has many flaws. Technological growth of the world is suppressed. Rand really shows how wrong communism is for the future of our world. Although Rand's vision of communism appears very impossible, it may happen. The attitude of people is that if something doesn't work, try something else. However, this is not always the way to go. In the book, they are afraid of returning to the "Unmentionable Times", so they completely steer clear of anything that might remotely come close to returning to those ages. Instead, they should try and fix what exactly went wrong. Above all, I felt that this is a great book for anyone that would like a stimulating book that can be read in less than 2 hours.
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on April 24, 2003
In Ayn Rand's futuristic tale of the dark ages, society has lost all concepts of individualism, values, and leadership. It gets to the point where people are unfamiliar with the word "I" and refer to themselves as "We." Rand uses her knowledge on philosophy to portray the concepts in Anthem, "I had to originate a philosophical framework of my own, because my basic view of man and of existence was in conflict with most of the existing philosophical theories. In order to define, explain and present my concept of man, I had to become a philosopher in the specific meaning of the term." In other words, Rand wanted to show how people hate change and only live their lives going by the philosophical theories that they already know.
This novel is one of the most unique ones ever written. There is essentially no plot. There is just one main idea spread throughout the entire book-that idea being having a society where everyone and everything is exactly the same. The novel helps portray how important it is now to have freedoms and independence. Some of the concepts and ideas brought upon the society are so ridiculous that it makes one consider how lucky they are now to have their own vales and independence. It is a little hard to understand the book at first by the way its written in terms of "we" and "our" instead of "I" and "mine." But this method that Rand uses in writing this helps the reader better understand the ideas on individualism. It is a great novel for all audiences who care to see the importance of freedom and independence that we have today.
In the beginning of the novel, the protagonist of the novel is introduced. He goes by the name of Equality 7-2521. Everybody in the society has names such as these-where they are referred to as numbers rather than just normal human names. The reason for this is to make sure that no one has anything unique to himself or herself, that numbers alone can classify each person.
The society's names are probably the only thing that somewhat differs among people. Everyone is to learn at the same pace, eat at the same time, sleep at the same time, and allow others to make decisions for him or her. A career is picked out for each person in which they are forced to be, and if they for some reason cannot fulfill the tasks of that career. They have no choices for themselves whatsoever, "dare not choose in your minds the work you would like to do when you leave the Home of the Students. You shall do that which the Council of Vocations shall prescribe for you. For the Council of Vocations knows in its great wisdom where by your brother men, better than you can know it in your unworthy little mind"(22). They do not feel that anyone is capable of knowing whom they really are in order to choose their path in life.
At one point in the novel, Equality 7-2521 finds out that he is smarter than another student, Union 5-3992. He has to try to do less than he is capable of just because it would be a sin to have greater knowledge than any of their brothers or even to know less than their brothers. Everyone must always be exactly the same.
Equality 7-2521 discovers a tunnel in which he secretly explores. He ends up learning more on his own in that tunnel than all of his years of schooling in the House of Students where everyone in society gets his or her education. He eventually discovers electricity, which he feels is the greatest gift that could ever be given to man. He finds out that it is from the Unmentionable Times, which were the times when there was equality and freedom and technology. But now in these dark ages of the future, these times are to never be spoken of.
Equality 7-2521 finally decides to confess everything about his tunnel and his discovery of electricity, and he is immediately thought of as evil and sinful to the world. He ends up running away into the Uncharted Forest. There he is able to learn more and eventually regains his individuality.
But the most important discovery that Equality 7-2521 makes, is his final understanding of the word "We." He figures out how that word came to corrupt all of society. It took away all possible individual freedoms. He decides to never use it again seeing as it symbolizes terrible things, "'We,' the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame"(97). He then understands the importance of the word "I" to replace "We", "...will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: 'I'"(97). This is all proving the symbolism of no independence within the word "We", and the freedom within the word "I."
Anthem is one of the most unique novels written yet. Ayn Rand has a way of expressing values of independence and freedom by showing them in extreme measures. Anthem shows an amazing prediction of what the future could be like if those values were taken away from civilization.
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on October 28, 2002
Anthem is a good book that focuses on the importance of individualism in society. It does not, however, mention or imply anything of socialism, as mentioned by other reviews.
In a socialist society, people are supposed to be equal to each other and not envy other's joys. The main character is forced to be a street sweeper because he is smarter. He envies the town leaders and doctors, there will always be jealousy. This is more of a monarchy, the few leaders decide everything for everyone and have total power.
Anthem will not turn you away from organized religion, if anything, it will bring you closer to belief in God. It will not make you question your religion. Anthem doesn't support agnostic ideas. Besides faith and hope, the purpose of religion is to bring people together and set rules.
Anthem is a book that at first hints atheist views only because the Bible has not been discovered in the small community that they live in. The characters in the book do not interact with each other or enjoy eachother. They have no religion or faith, no idea what their purpose in life is. When the bible is later found, he realizes that he is expected to love others. He later speaks of God's gift of individualism, narcissism, equality and love.
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on September 6, 2002
This is a great novel based on the future where "politically correctness" is taken to an extreme, along with a collectivist governing system.
In this world, it is evil to be better than others, intelligence is punished. It is evil to consider another person a "friend," as "friend" suggests preference over another person. It is evil to say "I" as "I" suggests singularity and individualism, which is strictly forbidden. In this world, individual rights and liberties are sacrificed, all in the name for the good of all mankind, thus, making all of mankind bound by laws, forbidden to be free, and, in turn, misearble as a whole.
Remember the themes in this book when some politician wants your vote to expand medicare, welfare, social security, or some other free service provided by the governmnet, and remind yourself it isn't quite free, as you are paying for it through higher taxes and contributing to a bigger, more controlling government that knows how to spend your hard earned money better than you do.
Maybe paying higher taxes for cigarettes, soda pop, red meat, fast food, or candy bars is good, as these items are "evil" and to be removed from people's lives, as these things put a burden on national medicare. However, some people enjoy these things, they have a right to.
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