A Great Supplement,
This review is from: CliffsNotes on Rand's Atlas Shrugged (Paperback)If the value of CliffsNotes was only to help readers discover with clarity what a particular author meant to convey in their novels, this book on _Atlas Shrugged_ would be trash. The reason is that Ayn Rand, more than any other author, wrote perfectly lucid novels about which no clarification is needed.
However, these books (of which I've only read a few) do offer another value that makes this one especially, not trash, but a book to be treasured. What they offer is this: the CliffsNotes books condense often-lengthy, important works of art so that they can be grasped--and remembered--with ease. And, as _Atlas Shrugged_ comprises some thousand plus pages with enough action and subplots to rival any novel by Hugo or Dumas, this value can perhaps never be more evident than with this new addition to the CliffsNotes series by Andrew Bernstein.
Cognizant of the task at hand, Dr. Bernstein condenses the entire book in a solid nine pages. From there, he lays down who the characters in the book are--as well as their relation to one another. And, after that, the reader is given a host of "critical commentaries" on each of the books thirty chapters which summarize what happened, pose questions to the reader that will be answered later, and reveal a number of instances where Miss Rand's overall theme can be seen.
Any person who is reading _Atlas_ for the first or second time ought to find these commentaries very helpful in understanding and appreciating the book. Unfortunately, as someone who has read the novel many times, I had to read many of the author's observations with a bitter-sweet sense of joy. ("Bitter" because I wish such a book was around when I first started reading Rand's novels and "sweet" because one finally is.)
Complete, undiluted happiness did not have to wait long however. Immediately after the "critical commentaries" is a section on the most important characters giving a detailed analysis of each. Then, at the end of the book, are two magnificent essays--one on the overall theme of _Atlas Shrugged_ and another on Miss Rand's portrayal of the common man which tells why the book's main "common man" (Eddie Willers) has an unresolved fate at the end. These two essays were a nice finishing touch for the book, making even a self-titled "veteran" reader like myself glad to have read it.
Taken all together, from the brief biography of Miss Rand at the beginning to the quizzes and projects to stimulate learning at the end, this book proves that Dr. Bernstein was the right man to pick for the job. And so, my gratitude goes out to the author and this last word of advice goes out to you, the person reading the words I've written here: "get this book whether you are reading _Atlas_ for the first time or not--as a supplement to Miss Rand's magnum opus there's nothing better on the market."