Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged sold an estimated 25 million copies between its publication in 1957 and 2007. Early on, the book inspired a young generation of business leaders, and now, decades later, it holds appeal for a new class of conservatives. But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the 1950s, William F. Buckley, the enfant terrible of the conservative movement, launched the National Review and published a review by Whittaker Chambers — the Soviet spy who famously turned against Communism (and Alger Hiss), all while building a remarkable career at TIME Magazine. About Atlas Shrugged, Chambers wrote: ”I find it a remarkably silly book. It is certainly a bumptious one. Its story is preposterous.” And, what’s more, he adds: “Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal.”
Rand never forgave Buckley for the review. Persona non grata, he was. Years later, in 2003, Buckley revisited the whole affair with Charlie Rose and made known his personal feelings for Rand’s book. “I had to flog myself to read it…”
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via Roger Ebert