Having never read Ayn Rand and hearing how polarizing her writing is, I decided to give it a shot. Anthem is available for free at the Amazon store for Kindle, so I downloaded it and dug in. This book isn't very long, I would say long short story or novellete range and is a fairly quick read.
The story takes place in a post apocolyptic future where it seems war has sent us back to the middle ages, at least technically. Man was forced to relearn such essential skills as glass and candle making. The system that has developed in society is one of communism; communism so deep that characters refer to themselves as we and only think about their actions in light of how they will affect their brothers. Equality 7-2521 is a character that doesn't fit in and has a love of knowledge and decides to pursue his yearning for knowledge despite being assigned the position of street sweeper.
The book is obviously an attack on communism. Rand makes the arguement that the individual is more important than the group, and that individuals following their desires will do more to benefit society. She shows that working and accomplishing something on your own is more rewarding than having that same thing given to you. She argues that the human spirit needs individualism and will strive for it.
I enjoyed the book. I don't think this work is the one people feel so ademantly opposed to. While you may not agree with her politically, this is a fairly unoffensive story. The story is fairly predictable in format and feels like a lot of other Science Fiction from that time period, but some of the writing is very good. One chapter towards the end when our friend Equality is discovering his own philosophy is a great example. I would recommend this one highly.
"There is nothing to take a man's freeedom away from him, save other men."
"What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the foos can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am to bow, to agree, and to obey?"