Podcast #26: Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 9

 Posted by on 25 January 2010 at 10:00 am  Podcasts
Jan 252010

For Monday’s episode of Philosophy in Action Radio, I posted a preview of my podcast and study questions for “Explore Atlas Shrugged, Session 9.”

The online version of Explore Atlas Shrugged – meaning, all 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions, plus other resources – can be purchased for just $20. The written materials are also available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions pay just $10 for access to the podcasts. For more information, including previews of other sessions, visit Explore Atlas Shrugged.

Session 9 of Explore Atlas Shrugged covers:

  • Part 2: Chapter 5: Account Overdrawn
  • Part 2: Chapter 6: Miracle Metal

Preview the Podcast

Listen or Download:

Preview the Study Questions

Note: The pagination of the hardcover, softcover, and kindle editions differs from that of the small mass market paperback. The study questions cite only the pagination from the larger editions. I don’t recommend using the mass market paperback.

Part 2: Chapter 5: Account Overdrawn

Section 1 (496-517)

As the world sinks deeper into crisis, Dagny Taggart attends the board meeting of Taggart Transcontinental. There, the board decides to dismantle the John Galt Line, albeit under terms dictated by government representative Clem Weatherby. Afterwards, Francisco d’Anconia meets Dagny to help her through that evening.

Core Questions

  • What is the state of the world by February 15th, when the rail of Rearden Steel was due to Taggart Transcontinental? What caused that? How do the leaders in industry and politics respond – and why? (496-501)
  • What is the nature of the financial crisis facing Taggart Transcontinental? What does Jim Taggart propose to do about it at the board meeting? How and why does Mr. Weatherby object? What is the final result? (502-6, 509-11)
  • Why does Dagny refuse to express any opinions about what Taggart Transcontinental should do about its branch lines? What does the board want from her – and why? (506-9)
  • What is the basic story of Nat Taggart’s battle to build the railroad? What lesson does Francisco want Dagny to draw from that story? Does she draw that lesson? How so or not – and why? (513-5)

Extra Questions

  • How are people at the mercy of the forces of nature now more than ever before? Why? (496-501)
  • How do failures in one business affect other businesses? Why is the economy so fragile now? (496-8)
  • What is the response of intellectuals to the current economic problems? What do their ideas mean in reality? What is their goal in expressing such opinions? (498)
  • Why do people seek out escapist amusements and evangelical religion when they cannot afford basic necessities? (499)
  • Why does Orren Boyle send steel to the People’s State of Germany rather than fill Atlantic Southern Railroad’s order? What is the reaction of the president of Atlantic Southern? Why is he silenced? What are the practical results? (499-500)
  • What does Francisco mean when he says, “you can’t have your cake and let your neighbor eat it, too”? How and why is he denounced for that statement? (499)
  • How was the Taggart Bridge built? What is its current significance to the economy – and why? (500)
  • Which ships does Ragnar Danneskjöld choose to sink rather than seize? Why might he do that? What is the economic effect of that policy? (500)
  • Why doesn’t Hank Rearden’s failure to deliver the rails of Rearden Steel to Taggart Transcontinental matter to Dagny Taggart? Why does that failure still matter to him? (501)
  • How do the economic controls enacted create black markets? What are the effects on the people who work in them – and why? (501)
  • How do the board members of Taggart Transcontinental communicate their opinions? What facts do they consider important in their decision-making? What does that reveal about them? (501-1)
  • Who is Mr. Weatherby? What is his purpose at the Taggart Transcontinental board meeting? How do the board members treat him – and why? (502-11)
  • Why is Mr. Weatherby interested in raising the wages of railroad workers? Why is Jim Taggart panicked by that proposal? Is either man honest in his claims? How so or not? (503-4)
  • Why does Dagny sense that the board members resent her, not Mr. Weatherby? What does that reveal about them? (505)
  • How and why does Dagny openly blame the board for the current predicament of Taggart Transcontinental? Is that just? Is it helpful? How is that different from her response to the San Sebastián debacle? (507, 510-1, 75-6)
  • What is Mr. Weatherby’s response to the proposal to repeal the regulations on the length and speed of trains? Why? (507-8)
  • What is Dagny’s view of the future of Taggart Transcontinental? Why? (509)
  • What does Mr. Weatherby threaten to do with the Taggart Transcontinental bonds? Why? What is Dagny’s response? Why? (510)
  • What is Dagny’s state of mind as she leaves the meeting? What does Francisco offer her? Why is that surprising? How does this meeting affect Dagny’s view of Francisco? (511-7)
  • What story does Francisco tell Dagny about Sebastián d’Anconia? What is its significance? (516)
  • What does Dagny ask Francisco about Hank Rearden – and why? What is most significant in their exchange on that topic? (516-7)
  • What is Francisco’s story about John Galt? How is it true? (517)

About Explore Atlas Shrugged

Explore Atlas Shrugged is a series of 20 sessions of podcasts and study questions by me, philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh. Each session covers about 65 pages of the novel, organized chapter-by-chapter and section-by-section. The podcasts are an in-depth look at the events, characters, and ideas from that portion of the novel. The whole series contains over 22 hours of lively and engaging discussion in podcast form. The study questions will help you better understand the novel on your own – or help you lead an engaging reading group. The series includes over 1400 questions, organized into “core” and “extra” categories.

You can preview the full series of podcasts and questions, as well as purchase access for just $20, here: Explore Atlas Shrugged. You can also purchase the series below.

Also, the written materials are available from Amazon in paperback and kindle formats, and purchasers of those editions pay just $10 for access to the podcasts.

Purchase Explore Atlas Shrugged

Access to the online version of Explore Atlas Shrugged costs just $20. It’s half off – just $10 – for purchasers of the paperback and kindle editions of the book version. Also, if you contribute to Philosophy in Action’s Tip Jar via recurring weekly or monthly contributions (or the equivalent), please email me for free access.

Terms of Sale: (1) You may share the podcasts with members of your household, but not beyond that. (2) You may share the study questions with members of your household, as well as with participants in your online or in-person Atlas Shrugged Reading Group. (3) Do not ever post the podcasts or study questions in any public forum.

Items: Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged ($20)
Course: Explore Atlas Shrugged (Half Price Discount) ($10)
Note: This half-price discount is only available to purchasers of a paperback or kindle edition of Explore Atlas Shrugged. Please email me a screenshot or picture as proof.

Praise for Explore Atlas Shrugged

The response to Explore Atlas Shrugged has been overwhelmingly positive, including the following remarks:

I require students to read Atlas Shrugged in my introductory economics class. Dr. Hsieh’s Explore Atlas Shrugged podcasts were an essential tool to help communicate the novel’s lesson and hold effective class discussion. Do not attempt to teach the book without consulting the podcasts first!

— Bailey Norwood, Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Economics, Oklahoma State University


Thank you, thank you, thank you, Diana – our GLO Atlas Reading Group is going so very well. We have about 12-13 people attending, and it is truly the most fun we’ve had in a long time. So much rewarding fun comes out of your ideas and organization. Can’t thank you enough for your efforts!!!


I just wanted to send you a quick note and thank you for your efforts on Explore Atlas Shrugged. As part of the Charm City Objectivists Society we used your questions and podcast to help kick off our reading group yesterday for session one. We had epiphanies all around the table from someone who is a firm student of Objectivism to a person who had read Atlas Shrugged but is new to Objectivism. I know that neither Ray (our moderator) or myself could have undertaken this kind of thing without the wonderful resource you have created. You have helped me make a difference in my community and I thank you for it.


The other day, I began listening to your Explore Atlas Shrugged podcasts. I have read and listened to the book several times, but it has been admittedly too long since the last time. Although I can not adequately express how much experiencing your podcasts has meant to me and the extent to which they have reinvigorated me, I did want to thank you…Thank you.

About Philosophy in Action Radio

Philosophy in Action Radio focuses on the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. It broadcasts live on most Sunday mornings and many Thursday evenings over the internet. For information on upcoming shows, visit the Episodes on Tap. For podcasts of past shows, visit the Show Archives.

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