The book depicts a dystopian United States in which private businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome laws and regulations. Railroad executive Dagny Taggart and her lover, steel magnate Hank Rearden, struggle against "looters" who want to exploit their productivity. Dagny and Hank discover that a mysterious figure called John Galt is persuading other business leaders to abandon their companies and disappear as a "strike" of productive individuals against the looters. The novel ends with the strikers planning to build a new capitalist society based on Galt's philosophy of reason and individualism.
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