Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA
When you read Rand, Everybody I've talked to identifies with the Prime Movers (Galt, Dagny, Rearden -- thanks Hush) and nobody with the parasites or looters(Dagny's brother James).
Interesting, Brad. I have to truthfully say that I could not identify with the heroes - not that I wouldn't have liked to, but I saw the impossibility of being that perfect - my major problem with her portrayal of the "good guys". What I most got out of here stories was the comparison of her "bad guys" with actual people in real life. Gail Wynand is alive and well in real life. So is Dagny's brother and the governmental agencies he was part of, so is the wheeling-dealings of those agencies, such as forcing the most successful to carry the lesser successful in industries, such as the breaking up of the rail system of America in the name of "fairness" - which met with disastrous results. You can see so many of these things happening in real life, even though she wrote it half-century ago.
To me, though, her crowning achievement was Ellsworth Toohey. If I had to choose the most evil, despicable and terrifying monster in literature, he would be my choice with his expertise in mind-shaping and mental maniputation. Guess what? He's alive and well, too.
So that's what I got the most out of her stories, not the perfection of her heroes but the unmistakeable comparisons of her "bad guys" and events, where you can look around and see alive and happening in todays world.