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1. Biography - Rand, Ayn (1905-1982):
2. Ayn Rand Reader
3. The Early Ayn Rand: Revised Edition:
4. Three Plays
5. The Ayn Rand Cult
6. The New Ayn Rand Companion, Revised
7. My Years with Ayn Rand
8. Letters of Ayn Rand
9. Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of
10. The Ayn Rand Column: Written for
11. Ayn Rand
12. The Journals of Ayn Rand
13. Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life : The
14. Feminist Interpretations of Ayn
15. On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth Philosophers
16. Ayn Rand
17. Anthem: 50th Anniversary Edition
18. What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory
19. Atlas Shrugged
20. Anthem

1. Biography - Rand, Ayn (1905-1982): An article from: Contemporary Authors
by Gale Reference Team
Digital: 23 Pages (2003-01-01)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0007SENUS
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Editorial Review

Book Description
This digital document, covering the life and work of Ayn Rand, is an entry from Contemporary Authors, a reference volume published by Thompson Gale. The length of the entry is 6871 words. The page length listed above is based on a typical 300-word page. Although the exact content of each entry from this volume can vary, typical entries include the following information:

  • Place and date of birth and death (if deceased)
  • Family members
  • Education
  • Professional associations and honors
  • Employment
  • Writings, including books and periodicals
  • A description of the author's work
  • References to further readings about the author
... Read more

2. Ayn Rand Reader
by Ayn Rand
Paperback: 512 Pages (1999-01-01)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$11.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452280400
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
The Fountainhead, which became one of the most influential and widely read philosophical novels of the twentieth century, made Ayn Rand famous. An impassioned proponent of rational self-interest, individualism, and laissez-faire capitalism, she expressed her unique views in numerous works of fiction and non-fiction that have been brought together for the first time in this one-of-a-kind volume.Containing excerpts from all her novels--including Atlas Shrugged, Anthem, and We The Living--The Ayn Rand Reader is a perfect introduction for those who have never read Rand, and provides teachers with an excellent guide to the basics of her viewpoint. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Synopsis of the Wisdom of Ayn Rand.
Pseudo-sophisticated philosophers beware!"Edited by Gary Hull and Leonard Peikoff, here is a rare and illuminating glimpse into the legendary writer's (Rand's) evolution as an artist and philosopher."With that bold statement from the back cover of the text dangling as a morsel of hubris so as to hook the buyer; The Ayn Rand Reader certainly does make good on the promise.

Whether you are seasoned reader or a neophyte into Rand's writings this text delivers the main points of her Objectivist Philosophy in a survey style covering her observations, feelings, and convcitions regarding Metaphysics, Epistemology, Ethics, Politics, and Esthetics.Ayn Rand was an impassioned proponent of reason, individualism, and laissez-faire capitalism; as such she deserves to be called the greatest philosopher of the Twentieth Century and arguably of all time.

Persons genuinely interested in Rand or simply curious about her doctrines will not be disappointed with this text.I rate it at five stars with no reservation.

3-0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been Worse
This is a well-edited colection of Ayn Rand's writings.It is quite good in light of the fact that it contains selections from her fiction and non-fiction writings.For those of us who have a hard time getting throughher over-blown, ponderous works of literature, having the key philosophicalportions excerpted in one book is a good idea.Also, the book containsonly stuff by Rand and therfore is not contaminated by her second-handfollowers, like some other collections of her works.

One thing about thebook is interesting.Editor Gary Hull tells us that "I have, ofcourse, made no changes in AR's own words."That's not accurate.Inthe selection "Attila and the Witch Doctor" which was originallypublished in FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUAL, Rand states in a footnote: "Iam indebted to Nathaniel Branden for many valuable observations on thissubject and for his eloquent designation of the two archetypes . . ."(FNI, 14.)Although the paragraph to which this footnote is keyed isquoted in full in the READER, this footnote is left out.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction to Ayn Rand
For those of you who are honestly interested in learning about Ayn Rand, I fully recommend this book as an introduction to her philosophy.

It's very disheartening to see that Ayn Rand detractors have overwhelmed most of thereview boards for her books.

If you read this book, please keep in mindseveral things that its detractors have not:

1.Ayn Rand's philosophy isan integrated system of looking at life and reality.It distorts her viewwhen you grab one of her ideas and take it out of context.Before you passjudgment on Ayn Rand, please know what you are talking about and learn thefundamentals of her philosophy.

2.You have to be honest to learnfrom Ayn Rand.Reading her books won't dislodge the falsehoods from yourmind, nor cram the truth into your brain.She has created a roadmap forlearning the ideal philosophy, but YOU have to look at reality and learn ityourself.Because of this, there are people who have distorted her ideasdrastically.Please look at what she has written to learn about her, NOTwhat others interpret her to be.

That's why this book is so important inclearing up the chaos surrounding Ayn Rand.So many people havemisinterpreted her.Here you can get the information firsthand.In herown words.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Ayn Rand's books
This is an excellent compilation of Miss Rand's writings -- an introduction for beginners and a treasured condensation (of her writings) for her ardent fans.

Although I have (read) all Miss Rand's fiction andnon-fiction, the Ayn Rand Reader permits me quick reference to many of myfavorite passages and essays.

Miss Rand's writings are my continuingsource of spiritual (mind) and moral strength in a world (currently)dominated by collectivism and altruism.

Her writings will, in time, bethe foundation of a New (and much needed) Renaissance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good collection, surprisingly
This is a good introductory collection of Randian material -- not perfect, but good. I'm giving it five stars just to prove that I can be nice to the folks at the Ayn Rand Institute when they do a decent job of putting a newvolume together. The fact that they didn't pad it with mediocre essays byPeikoff and Schwartz is a major accomplishment and I think it deserves tobe recognized. Keep it up, guys. ... Read more

3. The Early Ayn Rand: Revised Edition: A Selection From Her Unpublished Fiction
by Ayn Rand
Paperback: 528 Pages (2005-04-05)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$4.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 045121465X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description
This remarkable, newly revised collection of Ayn Rand's early fiction-including her previously unpublished short story The Night King-ranges from beginner's exercises to excerpts from early versions of We the Living and The Fountainhead. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Several quick reads as an Ayn Rand Appetizer or a dessert after The Fountainhead
The stories in this book all have the same qualities as the books Ayn Rand wrote during her mature years:that life can and should be an adventure ("Good Copy"), that men have a great capacity for heroism ("Red Pawn"), that no man can escape the consequences of his philosophy ("Think Twice").If you've been curious about Ayn Rand but hesitant to take on reading one of her large books (Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead) then try reading a couple of these short stories.If you enjoy them, you probably won't be able to wait to get started reading one of her books!If you've already enjoyed reading one of her books, these stories will give you a few more hours to spend with her and her ideas. ... Read more

4. Three Plays
by Ayn Rand
Paperback: 304 Pages (2005-04-05)
list price: US$8.99 -- used & new: US$4.89
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Asin: 0451214668
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description
Published together for the first time are three of Ayn Rand's most compelling stage plays. The courtroom drama Night of January 16th, famous for its open-ended verdict, is presented here in its definitive text. Also included are two of Rand's unproduced plays, Think Twice, a clever philosophical murder mystery, and Ideal, a bitter indictment of people's willingness to betray their highest values-symbolized by a Hollywood goddess suspected of a crime. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great plays
Any Rand has been overlooked the past few years - she no longer appears on reading lists and I dont think her philosophy is covered in college courses. That is too bad - she is a great writer and her philosophies are worth exploring.I did not know she wrote plays, so I was surprised to find this book. I read the first of three, entitled Night of January 16th.It is a great play with an interesting twist.She wrote it so when it is performed, 12 people from the audience become the jury - their desicion affects the outcome of the play.I think that is a great idea and I wish someone would produce her work.I recommend this to anyone who has read anythig by Rand and is looking for some new material to study.Her writing is, as always, on point and her ablility to make a play needs to be explored more often.I hope more people read it and take a liking to her novels. ... Read more

5. The Ayn Rand Cult
by Jeff Walker
Paperback: 350 Pages (1998-12-30)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812693906
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description

Ayn Rand and her philosophical school, Objectivism, have had a considerable influence upon American popular culture, yet the true story of her life and work has yet to be told. In this book, Jeff Walker debunks the cult-like following that developed around the author of the classics Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead--a cult that persists even today.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (70)

1-0 out of 5 stars Waste of paper
Unreadable mix of sophomoric psuedo-journalism smears an often very unlikeable Rand with ludicrous charges of cultdom based on a small cadre of intense fans.Just because Ayn Rand was not a likable person often emulated by even less likable sycophants neither diminishes the value of her writings nor paints her followers as cult members.

See also the autobiography of Rand written by Barbara Branden, the wife of the man she shared with Rand!

1-0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Time
No need for a full review here.In short one really doesn't need to waste their time reading this nonsense as this author ventures deep into fiction (I kept asking myself why, as there is enough to factually be critical of Rand about without creating more from thin air).For those who do need more, this author doesn't understand Objectivism either (even on a most basic level).

Want the scoop on O'ism?Rand laid out a very interesting philosophy that would naturally be adapted and eliminate all other POV's (points of view)... if only.Isn't there always an if LOL.In this case the "if" is huge, as Oism requires that a majority be looking to live in a really free society.Most us humans simply are not (as a group we don't encourage real freedom or vote for it).So the philosophy doesn't take (unless of course one creates an artificially protected society (like the valley in Atlas) where the world full of well-meaning thugs (read:most regular folks) can't force the O'ists into all sort of freedom killing nonsense (taxes, etc).If you want to know about the philosophy that would be perfect for a freedom loving population I'd recommend reading Rand, not the drivel in this book.Her fiction is top notch, and for those with a bent the non-fiction is mind-bending in its potential.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Short Sighted Review
Mr. Walker does little to justify his criticism of Ayn Rand. His review is rather simplistic in nature.

At one point he seems to be critical of the idea that a person of fifteen years could become a follower ofMs. Rand. Yet most of us can recall becoming followers of a philospher, politician, or author at just such an age.

Mr. Walker's review also seems somewhat typical of those who secretly wish that individuals must always be subservient to society.

For those who have not read one of Ms. Rand's works, they would be better served by reading one and skipping Mr. Walker's book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read
I have read a few of Rand's books and thought they were OK, not great, not terrible, just OK.I was never attracted to the underlying themes in the books or Rand's "philosphy".I was fascinated, however, by the fact that somehow she has become an icon because of these books and wanted to learn more about her.This book pretty much tells it all-there is no fawning or sugar coating here.She was a nasty woman with some pretty deep rooted mental problems--intelligent, yes, but warped.I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone with the qualities she admired such as intelligence, free thinking, individualism etc. would ever want anything to do with this cult.She must have had some really potent Kool-Aid.

4-0 out of 5 stars Deconstructing Rand
In the wake of Ayn Rand's death, two of her former acolytes, Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, authored separate accounts detailing the effects of Rand's severe moralism and hypocrisy on their lives.

"Too little, too late" is the verdict that Jeff Walker renders on those books, and with his book "The Ayn Rand Cult" he exposes Ayn Rand and her legacy, "Objectivism" as it should have been exposed long ago.

Walker did extensive interviews with former Objectivists in order to present a comprehensive critique of Rand and her thought.He shows that Objectivism, like subsequent cults like Scientology and est, was authoritarian at the core, and fed on fear and the threat of excommunication.

Walker points out the obvious paradoxes in Rand's life and writing, most notably that her hackneyed fiction's heroes were stilted and similar in style to the chiseled products of Soviet Socialist Realism. which she supposedly abhorred.

Walker also shows that in the context of the times and the literature she grew up with, Rand did not produce anything significantly original, and that she only grudgingly credited her influences.She referred to Nietzsche as "a gifted poet", as if he was only John the Baptist to her Messianic status.It shouldn't be hard for anybody doing a comparative reading of Nietzsche and Rand to figure out who was the real genius.

Full examination is given to the culture of 1920's Business Theory, and the traditions of Jewish culture which were a large part of Rand's influences as well as foundations of the Objectivist movement--- never, of course, fully acknowledged.

Walker's prescription for people who are beguiled by Rand is that they should investigate the classical liberals, like Fredrich Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises, as well as the models that Rand used for her fiction, like Frank Lloyd Wright--people that all had real genius.That is the "trail's end" where disenchanted followers of Rand usually wind up.

Jeff Walker's book is most notable for its thoroughness in putting Ayn Rand and the proto-cult of Objectivism in context.It's a laundry list of reasons for individuals to resist the path of the true believer. ... Read more

6. The New Ayn Rand Companion, Revised and Expanded Edition
by Mimi Reisel Gladstein
Hardcover: 176 Pages (1999-08-30)
list price: US$66.95 -- used & new: US$66.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0313303215
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
An essential guide to the life and works of Ayn Rand, the book chronicles and summarizes her writings, presents information about her national and global impact--and the response to it--and provides the most comprehensive bibliography published to date. Written by an independent scholar who is not part of either the Ayn Rand establishment or the Ayn Rand detractor camp, The New Ayn Rand Companion builds on the foundation of the original. New materials about Rand's posthumous publications, the latest biographical information, and summaries of books and articles about Rand, published since her death, have been added. Burgeoning interest in Rand, the publication of her Letters and Journals and Russian Writings, and the growing body of critical works necessitates an expanded and revised edition of the Ayn Rand Companion. This new edition is the only general reference work that covers the complete Rand corpus, including both those works published during her life and those published to date. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

2-0 out of 5 stars SCHOLARLY?I THINK NOT
Scholarly?I think not.I looked up a reference to myself on page 19: and this alleged "scholar" did not trouble to ask herself how a French-Canadian politician born in the 1930s, Maurice Champagne-Gilbert, could have authored a French children's adventure story first published in 1914 ("La vallee mysterieuse," which I translated).(In fact the story was written by Maurice Champagne, 1868-1951.) If she makes a careless mistake like that (which could have been avoided by simply reading the front cover, or opening the book and glancing at the front matter), what other mistakes has she made?

That she relied on the "assistance" of either Nathaniel or Barbara Branden hardly inspires confidence.The Brandens are about as objective about Ayn Rand as Hitler was about the Jews; though fortunately their unscholarly pseudo-histories have been fully exposed in James Valiant's "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics."

There may be some value in compiling a list of absolutely everything that's been written about an author.But I doubt it ... especially in this case, given that most of Ayn Rand's critics either have an ax to grind, or don't think there's an objective reality.

5-0 out of 5 stars A "must" for all serious Ayn Rand fans and scholars.
Now in a completely revised, updated, and expanded edition, Mimi Gladstein's The New Ayn Rand Companion continues to be a critically important, essential guide to the life and works of author/philosopher AynRand. Gladstein chronicles and summarizes Rand's writings, presentsinformation about her national and global impact (and the response to it)and provides the most comprehensive bibliography published to date.Gladstein is neither an Ayn Rand enthusiast or detractor and thereforetakes a scrupulous, scholarly, methodical, and emotionally neutral approachto her meticulous research as she covers the complete Rand corpus. Newmaterials about Rand's posthumous publications, the latest biographicalinformation, and summaries of books and articles about Rand published sinceher death have been added to make The New Ayn Rand Companion a"must" for all serious students of her writings.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Guide to Things Randian and Objectivist
The first edition of this book was published within a couple years of Rand's death, so there is much updating to be done (although that earlier edition did benefit from a preview of Barbara Branden's biography of Rand,then still in progress). In addition to The Passion of Ayn Rand, many ofRand's private journals and letters have now been published, and a numberof important secondary sources as well, such as Chris Matthew Sciabarra'sfull-throttle philosophical and historical study Ayn Rand: The RussianRadical. Almost every work of significance pertaining to Rand is describedor at least mentioned, making this volume a reference of first resort forRand studies.

What's covered here? Let Gladstein answer: "Theorganization of this Companion follows a logical heuristic: Who? What? andSo what? 'Who is Ayn Rand?' is the question answered partly by the briefbiographical chapter. The main body of this book, however, responds to thequestion, 'What has she written?' That is covered in the chapters on herfiction, her nonfiction, and in the compendium of characters. 'So what?' isthe question that calls for critical reaction and that is provided in thechapter on criticism."

The author also provides a comprehensivebibliography of works by and about Rand. Even such obscure pieces as DavidM. Brown's hitherto unheralded survey of "The Critics of BarbaraBranden" (published in the May 1988 issue of Liberty magazine) areincluded.

Gladstein has much that is both positive and on-point to sayabout Rand's character, her fiction, her nonfiction, and the variouscritical assessments of her work. She doesn't shy away from negativejudgments when such are appropriate, either.

On Rand Herself:"Regardless of what pressures were brought to bear, regardless of howmany of those in power told her that she must change her style, regardlessof what obstacles she found to 'doing it her way,' Rand remained true toher purposes in writing." "Intellectually, she could best anyonein argument.... Bennett Cerf concurred, 'You can't argue with Ayn Rand.She's so clever at it, she makes a fool out of you.' " Rand's personalshortcomings are mentioned, as well as the troubling circumstances thatsurrounded the Objectivist Crackup in 1968; but Gladstein does not dwell onsuch matters. Of course the works cited, the most important of which is ThePassion of Ayn Rand, tell the whole story of Ayn Rand's often triumphant,sometimes tragic life.

On Rand's Fiction: "Rand's major literaryworks follow similar plot patterns. In each, an exceptionally able andindividualistic protagonist battles the forces of collectivism andmediocrity that are threatening or have destroyed the nation or theworld." "Rand's heroes are tall, straight and strong. As withtheir feminine counterparts, defiance is a keystone to theircharacters." "The major theme of Rand's fiction is the primacy ofthe individual. The unique and precious individual human life is thestandard by which good is judged." Mention is also made of suchleitmotifs as "recurring whip imagery" and "romanticizedrapes" that are "symbolic of the head-on clash of two strongpersonalities." (Gladstein is quick to add that readers of"raised consciousness about the nature of rape might find thissymbolism unpalatable," but neglects to state clearly that thevigorous sexual encounters in Rand's fiction cannot be taken as actualrape-not if the text itself is to be admitted in evidence.) Gladstein'ssummaries of Rand's stories are uniformly excellent.

On Rand'sNonfiction: "Montaigne, author of the book Essais which created thegenre of the essay, defined the essay as 'an attempt,' a brief discussionas opposed to a thesis or dissertation. [The essays of The Virtue ofSelfishness] are just that-compressed discussions, forays into theirsubjects. As such, they are appealing to interested nonacademic ornonspecialist readers as well as to the more serious student ofObjectivism." "Rand says capitalism is the only moralpolitico-economic system in history, a system that has been a great boon tohumankind [TDO thinks Gladstein means "mankind" here].... Herpurpose [in Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal] is to clearly identify thebenefits of capitalism while also exposing the nature of its arch enemy,altruism." "One of Rand's greatest gifts is her ability to cut tothe heart of a contemporary event or issue and analyze its philosophicalimplications." "The specific referencts of [The ObjectivistNewsletter] were events of the early sixties. What makes themintellectually satisfying today is that the basic premises Rand uses tocriticize government, education, or literature apply now as they didthen."

The chapter on "Criticism of Rand's Works"includes a summary of every work about Rand that has been published, andmentions a great many of the critical articles. As you can imagine, thecriticism is a very mixed bag, as assessments of Rand run the gamut in toneand objectivity. To her great credit, Gladstein's sensibility incriticizing the criticism is almost infallible. Any palpable blunders inThe New Ayn Rand Companion? One or two.In the introduction the authorstates that Rand "presented herself as representative of her fictionalideal: rational, objective, uncompromising, unswerving. Her followers canfind no imperfections. This tends to create a situation in which all whoare not fully in accord with Rand are seen as part of the opposition."The gist of the observation is correct, but some qualification should havebeen made. Elsewhere in the book Gladstein herself documents the growth ofmore tolerant wings of the Objectivist movement, including the birth of TheInstitute for Objectivist Studies (now The Objectivist Center) and thepublication of David Kelley's Truth and Toleration. (Alas, the Companionwent to press just around the time The Daily Objectivist was being founded,so TDO's rapid ascendancy as the premier arbiter of non-orthodoxObjectivist thought, displacing Kelley's organization, is not mentioned atall. Hopefully this omission will be rectified in the thirdedition.)

Another little glitch we could mention appears in thedescription of Hank Rearden. "Although [Rearden's] feelings forFrancisco d'Anconia are strained by Francisco's superficial public image,their friendship grows until Rearden finds out that Francisco had beenDagny's lover." But in fact the great breach in the friendship occursearlier in the novel, when Rearden realizes that Francisco had had themeans to prevent a disaster from befalling Rearden Steel but chose not toprevent it. The discovery of Francisco and Dagny's past romance onlyincreases but does not inaugurate the tension between the two men when theyfinally next encounter each other in Dagny's apartment. Anyone who has readAtlas Shrugged a million times cover to cover would be familiar with thissequence of events.

However, these points are trivia. Ninety nine pointnine nine percent of the time Gladstein is completely accurate, not tomention astonishingly concise given the wealth of information she presents.She acknowledges the assistance of a number of major figures in theObjectivist movement, including Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Nathaniel Brandenand Barbara Branden, Peter Saint Andre, Michelle Marder Kamhi and LouTorres. Anyone with any serious interest in the work of Ayn Rand and itsgrowing influence on our culture should own a copy of The New Ayn RandCompanion.--David M. Brown, Editor, The Daily Objectivist(www.dailyobjectivist.com) ... Read more

7. My Years with Ayn Rand
by Nathaniel Branden
Paperback: 432 Pages (1999-02-26)
list price: US$30.00 -- used & new: US$21.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0787945137
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description
Previous Praise for Nathaniel Branden"Relentlessly revealing. . . the myth of Ayn Rand gives way to a full-sized portrait in contrasting colors, appealing and appalling, potent and paradoxical. . . . it takes a special kind of nerve to write such a book."--Norman Cousins, author of Head First and The Healing Heart

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century-its popular impact ranked second only to the Bible in a major poll. Millions know Rand as one of this century's great thinkers, writers, and philosophers, yet much about the private Ayn Rand remains shrouded in mystery.

Who was Ayn Rand?

My Years with Ayn Rand charts the course of the clandestine, tempestuous relationship between the enigmatic author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and Nathaniel Branden-her young disciple and future pioneer of the self-esteem movement. In this book, discover the real Ayn Rand through the eyes of the man who became her soul mate and shared her passions and philosophical ideals.

Their tragic and tumultuous love story began with a letter written by Branden as an admiring teenage fan and Anded, more than twenty years later, with accusations of betrayal and bitter recriminations. My Years with Ayn Rand paints an unforgettable portrait of Ayn Rand-whose ideas, even today, can generate a maelstrom of controversy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

4-0 out of 5 stars A memoir Ayn Rand's followers need to read.
I read Fountainhead when I was 18 and soon followed it with Atlas Shrugged. I liked Fountainhead for its individualist philosophy. Roark became my hero. I read Atlas Shrugged and was appalled at Rand's extremist views. Anyone who differs from her ideas is evil according to her. She spews venom and hopes to convert readers to her ideas with the force of her contempt.

I decided to read Branden's memoir in an appempt to gain more insight into what made this lady so bitter and angry. Its clear she lived only in amake believe world of ideas. She did not see reality as it was. She believed she was the personification of all her ideal values. Yet her need for adulation , her childish need to seek total acquiescence from her followers show she was far removed from her idea of a Hero.
Branden does a good job of humanising this self styled demi goddess. You just need to read this and you never need to be tempted again to read the churlish, self righteous sermonising of Rand.

2-0 out of 5 stars read it and bathe
This book was lying around the house, undoubtedly the result of the peregrinations of someone in the family through the remainder bins. I think I should clarify that the book I am reviewing, Judgment Day, is actually an earlier version of "My Years with Ayn Rand." I guess Branden got tired of being judged, or maybe needed to display Rand's name more prominently on the cover--or realized the Christian implication of his title.

I also should state that I couldn't care less about Branden, Rand, Objectivism, the Self-Esteem Movement, Libertarianism, or any other person or idea associated with the people involved in the book--a point I mention because many reviewers seem to feel strongly about some or all of the above. I did read the Fountainhead, many years ago, when I was 14, which seems to be a favorable age for finding prose like "Howard Roark laughed" not laughable. For a year or so I thought the book was great; then I lost interest. Personally, I think I developed greater literary sensitivity and a more adult appreciation of human psychology, but I don't want to patronize the many adults in the world who think everything Ayn is fine. Therefore, to anyone who needs to know--as Rand-people need to know--whether I'm "for" them, the answer is "no," which I guess means I'm against them.

I gave this book any stars at all because I believe it would speed the clear-eyed adolescent admirer of Objectivism to a better realization of the implications of all that hero-worship and examining premises stuff. I cannot imagine anyone finishing this book without having shuddered in disgust at least once. Was it possible Branden actually wrote a cautionary tale in the form of an apologia? Is he that clever?

I think not. I think Branden was trying to rehabilitate himself. Yet he remains so thickly encased in his own sense of self-importance that he cannot place himself in the position of any other human being. Therefore, when he describes a cousin who fails to understand him as "a eunuch," or lists his first wife as not the victim but the perpetrator of her own pain, I think he does not realize that a lot of readers will read the subtext rather than the text, and think, "What an unsympathetic creep." And, I should add, an unsympathetic creep who has made his living for the past 25 years as a psychologist in Southern California (which helps explain, now that this East Coast writer thinks about it, the mental disequilibrium of Los Angeles).

Here is an analogy I bet no one has made: The person Branden most reminded me of was our past beloved president, Bill Clinton. There is the same broad intellectual ability, charisma, and extroversion, wrecked by a sense of personal infallibility, an adolescent ego that sees his own life writ large across the cosmos, and, most damaging, an inability to take personal responsibility for bad decisions and suffer the negative consequences thereof. This guy (for those who don't know what I'm talking about) for over 20 years couldn't manage to extricate himself from a wacky mother-son romance (while married to a woman his own age) with Ayn Rand, that for at least half that time he didn't want. Couldn't help himself; didn't want to hurt her; didn't want to hurt the movement; didn't know which way was up; surrounded by moralists and enemies; help, get me outta here! His house of cards fell down around him when Woman Number 3 entered the picture and the bed just got too crowded. Studliness hath its price: Branden's not the first middle-aged guy who lost it all toa young bimbo, but true to type, he acted, and writes, like he was and is. I suppose in the days of the Patriarchs love meant never having to say you're sorry, but, as Rand and Branden spent most of their lives lamenting in a very Gloria Swanson-way, life has gotten smaller since then.

I took off 3 stars because the writing is boring and repetitive, there is almost no character development in spite of pages and pages of self-analysis and breast-beating (or chest-thumping), and most of the characters are very unpleasant. I will say that Wife #1, Barbara, seems like a real piece of work who I'd be interested in knowing better--that Nathaniel got away with this book without having her sue his tail off is testimony in that single fact to more strength of character on her part than her ex-husband displayed all the times of his life, added up.

1-0 out of 5 stars Smear and exploitation of Ayn Rand (read The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics for the whole story)
This book is a smear job against Ayn Rand so that Nathaniel Branden can clean up his own tarnished reputation while cashing in on Ayn Rand's fame.

James S. Valliant, in his book The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens, thoroughly dissects the claims made by the Brandens against Ayn Rand. He then references Ayn Rand's own personal journals to systematically demonstrate how Barbara and Nathaniel Branden deceived and exploited Ayn Rand for years for their own illegitimate aims. Even after Ayn Rand's death, the Brandens continue to cash in on Ayn Rand's self-made fame and her original philosophy of Objectivism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Intimate portraits of Rand, her inner circle, and her philosophy
The memoirs/biographies of Barbara and Nathaniel Branden are musts for anyone seriously interested in Ayn Rand and her work. This is my "two-fer" review of both books, which should be read together.

The young Brandens' encounter with Rand was the most important experience of their lives. Her force of personality and formidable intellectual powers pulled them into a strange menage-a-quatre with Rand and her husband, Frank O'Connor, even as the Brandens launched the Objectivist movement. Both of them came away simultaneously transformed by Objectivism and personally disillusioned with Rand. The Branden-Rand break caused Rand great pain (disguised as moral indignation) and led to the almost-total isolation of her final years. The picture that emerges from both books is that of a woman caught in a self-created storybook world, eager for the companionship of equals, obsessed with control, unwilling to meet the world except on nearly impossible terms, trying to break out of her emotional-sexual prison -- then rejected by the smart and ambitious man twenty-five years her junior who had made her the center of an explosive and influential movement but who also discovered his need to lead his own life and make his own mark.

Barbara Branden's book is mostly biography and marked the first step towards an objective judgment of Rand. The Passion of Ayn Rand is detached and wistful, while Judgment Day is an aggressive, sometimes painfully honest, memoir. Nathaniel Branden was still wrestling with himself when he wrote it. He recounts with pride how he emerged, wounded but intact, from his break with Rand and how his experience as both guru and victim of a cult-like movement affected his later work in psychology. On the other hand, The Passion of Ayn Rand projects no sense of struggle. Barbara Branden deftly and quietly identifies aspects of Rand's psychology that started at a young age and became more pronounced after she finished Atlas Shrugged: her extreme positive and negative idealizations of other people, her habits of "editing" reality and rewriting history, her emotional repression and consequent angry outbursts. Nathaniel Branden traces how these tendencies spun themselves out in Rand's novels, her philosophy, and the movement he created. Rand's lack of self-knowledge extracted a steep price. Of such stuff are cults made, he concludes.

Fortunately, most people come to Rand by reading her books, not through the official Objectivist movement that she authorized, her attempt at complete control of her reputation, even beyond the grave. But it won't do, as many followers think, to accept her novels and philosophy while eschewing the official Ayn Rand cult. The complete Rand, both person and work, needs independent examination. The sledgehammer moralizing and Platonizing tendencies of her fiction are inescapable flaws of not just her personality, but her novels and philosophy. The extremes of emotional repression to which she subjected herself would have done in a person of lesser willpower, but she expected those who came to her to similarly contort themselves and to subordinate their own judgment to hers. A powerful, independent mind like Nathaniel Branden's could do this only for so long. The isolation and decline of her last decade were a result of the same determined willpower that made her novels possible. It also kept Rand and her followers from seeing her philosophical views as a flawed starting outline of a philosophy, hardly a complete system, and sprinkled with unproven assertions ("benevolent universe," "all problems solvable by reason," "existence = identity," etc., permeated by conceptual sleights of hand and her confusion of consistency with completeness and necessity).

These tendencies have had bad consequences for the Rand-inspired libertarian and Objectivist movements. They drove an unnecessary wedge between herself and conservatives. Her obsession with control and self-isolation prevented her from seeing the right arguments for a free society (no one can plan or control society or history or should pretend to) and led to her isolation from potential secular allies like Hayek, Popper, and Friedman. Emotional repression leads to disowning the self that in turn creates alienation from others. Are these not the very tendencies that libertarians suffer from and which seriously impair their ability to influence politics? Conservatives have gotten much further, not because of religion, but because they do not practice emotional repression or repudiate human nature. Rand's followers continue to hobble themselves with her faulty "psychoepistemology" that reduces thinking to conceptual abstraction and people to ideas. It's what made her think that John Galt and Dagny Taggart could be real people and not the allegories they so obviously are. Rand's impossible ideal was humans as self-creating gods, with their minds and lives fully subject to volitional control. For this reason, she rejected religion. But she nearly rejected evolution as well, because it implies that we are all subject to super-individual and unconscious forces, albeit wholly natural ones. Nothing was to interfere with Rand's fantasy of control -- that was her passion and her tragedy.

POSTSCRIPT: The 1990s saw new, important critical work on Rand and her writings. They constitute an excellent start for interested readers, once they've digested the Brandens' memoirs. Start with the official exposition in Leonard Peikoff's Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Then move on to the best of the sympathetic criticism:

- The Ideas of Ayn Rand, Ronald Merrill
- The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand, eds. Douglas Den Uyl & Douglas Rasmussen
- The Ayn Rand Companion (2nd ed., The New Ayn Rand Companion), Mimi Gladstein
- Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, Chris Matthew Sciabarra (a wealth of historical and biographical information giving Rand's ideas their full context - flawed thesis, but the most thorough scholarly treatment so far)

Even a major book like Sciabarra's only scratches the surface. Rand's allegorizing tendencies are linked to her rejection of her Russian childhood, but also to a thread in Russian literature (traceable, through Christianity, back to Plato) that views persons as embodiments of ideas (e.g., Dostoevsky). The style of her fiction can be viewed as "individualist realism," in opposition to the much cruder "socialist realism" popular in the 1930s and enforced in Soviet Russia. Rand's knee-jerk hostility to religion needs a fresh perspective in light of the mysticism of Orthodox Russia. Comparing Rand to other Russian refugees (like her contemporary and fellow Petersbergians Nabokov and Berberova) would be fascinating. (Russia's exit from the never-never land of Marxism has allowed rediscovery of its real history.) Someone should fully identify the influence of Nietzsche she supposedly outgrew with The Fountainhead. The Nietzschean "lone wolf" mentality clung to her and her work to the very end. Neither Rand nor her followers have ever produced a coherent theory of society. Neither did Nietzsche, but he knew himself well enough to reject movements, politics, and systematizing. Rand did not, and an intellectually sterile cult was the result.

Rand constructed her philosophical beliefs to force the conclusions she wanted - this is obvious in her esthetic views, but it also holds in the rest. Attempts to repair and complete her philosophy lead back to the standard Enlightenment mix of natural rights, utilitarianism, and historical analogy, with Aristotle as one intellectual ancestor among others. These theories remain the backbone of existing conservative and classical liberal thought, at least in the English-speaking world. Could such an exercise lead to anything else?

The hostile reviews on Amazon of the Brandens' books only provide more evidence of the mind-warping effects of cultism on nominally intelligent people. A pathetic recent attack on the Brandens falls into the same category. I could tell you not to read them -- but you should, so you can see what cults are like.

5-0 out of 5 stars I paid 13.30 for this in 2002. Now they want 28???
Either we have experienced some massive inflation or something is very wrong. ... Read more

8. Letters of Ayn Rand
by Ayn Rand
Hardcover: 720 Pages (1995-06-01)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$28.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0525939466
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Get to Know the Real Ayn Rand
I must confess, when I first received Letters of Ayn Rand from my sister as a birthday present, I wasn't very motivated to read it.I had read most of Ayn Rand's novels and a few books and essays about her life, so I thought it would be very similar to what I already knew about her.Was I pleasantly surprised!Reading her personal letters written to everyone from literally the boy and girl next door to Frank Lloyd Wright and Barbara Stanwyck gave me an insight into Rand's personality and values that can't be found elsewhere.What comes out in her letters is how seriously she takes not only her own ideas, but the ideas of others.The book is organized chronologically, so one can trace the development of her ideas as well as her successes (and a few disappointments). I was also very surprised to learn how actively involved she was in the marketing of her novels.She wasn't just passively standing by hoping people would read her novels; rather, she gave suggestions to the publisher and edited marketing materials.I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating personality and incredible mind behind The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Other Side of Ayn Rand
This collection of Ayn Rand's letters is an interesting and important addition to her works.It was edited by Michael Berliner, then-executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.(ARI advocates the "Official Objectivism" of Leonard Peikoff.)For those who know Rand through her at times shrill writing and the self-serving accounts of former insiders, this collection presents a valuable "other side" to Rand.Written over a period of 55 years, we read love letters to her husband, letters to friends and fans, and letters to politicians.In fact, Rand corresponded with some of the most famous people of the century, such as Alexander Kerensky, H. L. Mencken, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Barry Goldwater, to name a few.The philosophical portions of the letters are quite meaty, and Rand obviously put a great deal of effort into her correspondence.

Not surprisingly, the only letters to Nathaniel Branden included were written before he became her associate.The end result is that Branden's contributions to Objectivism are downplayed, which is typical of the material produced by the ARI.(For example, even though Rand approved of Branden's writings published prior to their split, they do not appear in THE AYN RAND LEXICON or other post-split collections.)

The most interesting selections are the letters to Isabel Paterson and the distinguished philosopher John Hospers.In order to get permission to quote Hospers' comments contained in Rand's letters, the editor was obliged to include a statement from Hospers.As Hospers says, Rand occasionally misrepresented or misunderstood his point, so printing only Rand's letters to Hospers makes him "look like a bloody fool. . . . And that isn't quite fair, is it?"

5-0 out of 5 stars It's a shame someone has to die...
...in order for a book like this to be published.But finally we get a real look into the private life of a fascinating author and philosopher.Having just finished a number of years at PSU, it seems clear that Objectivism is making headway as a serious philosophical view.

I'm more interested in music myself than philosophy, but I did notice that in the study of philosophy the Ball that Miss Rand got rolling so many years ago has gathered quite a bit of size and speed.Her ideas made sense to me both before and after I studied Logic, Semantics, and Philosophy.In fact, after studying the "big boys," as one professor of mine called them, I definitely saw a need for a philosophy that states that things are what they are!!

Anyway, I'm devouring this book!!!

2-0 out of 5 stars Maybe worthwhile for Rand scholars....
Perhaps I was just coming down off of an Ayn Rand high when I read this, but whatever the case, this collection of correspondance just doesn't deserve a place beside Rand's self-published work, which is in sufficient abundance to make a collection like this unwarranted.

If you are thoroughly absorbed into Rand's Cult of Personality (amazingly effective even after her death), then you will probably enjoy this work.There was certainly a time where I would have devoured every letter.If, on the other hand, you have been impressed and affected by The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, We The Living, or Anthem, I would strongly suggest working through Rand's nonfiction before diving into this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spectacular!
Ayn Rand is the author of numerous philosophical works, fiction and non-fiction alike. She is best known as the founder of her unique Objectivist philosophy, which is essentially concerned with individual men acting in their own rational self-interests, coupled with a strong moral defense of free-market Capitalism. Her ideas are very complex, yet easily grasped by the interested reader.

“Letters of Ayn Rand” is a wonderful book for Rand fans, however I think many of the ideas will be lost on newcomers. “Letters” contains almost 60 years worth of personal letters Miss Rand wrote during the course of her lifetime. We have a very wide range of recipients for her letters here, everyone from philosophers, heads of state, newspapermen, literary agents, Hollywood types, fans, political organizations, you name it. Rand was just as eloquent and blunt with her letter writing as with her “serious” writing.

I very much enjoyed following Rand’s career through these letters. We start with a young Russian woman trying to settle in to American life, through a writer’s struggles to get her work published, and ending with the writings of an established philosopher ahead of her time. Rand fought tooth and nail to get both “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” published as written, however we learn that she was not entirely against having editorial assistance. Rand understood the editor’s job of providing constructive criticism of her work; however she always stood tall and insisted on making any sort of changes to her works personally. She never tolerated any sort of editorial “rewrites” of her novels or her original screenplays, etc.; Rand fought many tough battles with editors, publishers, film producers, etc. during the course of her writing career for the purpose of having her work stand as written by her hand ALONE. This was very difficult to do back in the 40s and 50s (probably more so today), as witnessed by her numerous letters to the powers-that-be.

Rand was brutally honest with everyone she wrote letters to, including family members and adoring fans. Rand was helping to support a niece during the girl’s troubled high school days. Rand then found out that the girl and her caretakers weren’t being up front with her, and subsequently told her relatives in no uncertain terms that Rand’s assistance for the girl is NOT charity and that her help is NOT unconditional. In other instances, fans of Rand who misinterpreted her books were shown little sympathy; not because Rand was against teaching fundamentals of her philosophy (she acted as a teacher far more often than not), but because the letter-writer seemed to have purposefully missed Rand’s crucial philosophical points. Rand had no patience for those who would claim to be fans of “The Fountainhead”, yet ask her to support causes that did not match the ideas of her novels. Her voice is always clear, and her uncompromising use of reason and logic are unmatched.

There are some complaints from other reviewers regarding the choice of publishing Rand’s numerous letters to philosopher John Hospers. The argument revolves around the choice of not publishing Hospers’s responses to Rand, and that the letters presented here are “one-sided”. While I can understand the argument, the fact is that this book is intended to be “Letters of Ayn Rand”, not “Letters of John Hospers”. It is made clear to the reader that Rand and Hospers had numerous conversations other than their written correspondence, and Rand’s letters to Hospers are only a small portion of their conversations. Therefore, EVEN IF Hospers letters were published alongside Rand’s, the discussions between the two would remain incomplete. I myself have no problem reading Rand’s letters to him without having the other side published, mostly because I trust Rand to have been honest with her rebuttals of Hospers’s ideas.

Another complaint revolves around the lack of letters to / from Nathaniel Branden. The philosophical split between Rand and Branden is well known, however I think the choice to ignore their (probable) arguments within these pages was a sound one. Certainly, Rand and Branden’s long term working relationship included far more than dissenting letters between the two of them. Branden and Rand worked side by side for many years, and I find it unlikely that the details of their split are to be found strictly in the form of “letters” to each other. It is much better for both parties in my opinion to refrain from detailing their split, as Rand is not longer with us to defend herself. Truly, I would love to know what went on to cause their split, but I would rather know nothing at all than hear only one side.

I came away with a better understanding of many of Rand’s ideas, which is significant because I have already read the bulk of Rand’s published works. Rand arrives at her conclusions in a different manner within her letters, and the “different” approach presented here served to make clearer her attitudes towards life and politics. Certainly, it was a blessing to read her answers to specific questions, as there are ideas within her work that are difficult to grasp when told from only one angle.

This book is a treasure trove for all Rand fans, but is not for beginners. Rand makes many references to characters and events within her philosophical novels that come across as cryptic to readers not familiar with the material. After reading “Letters of Ayn Rand” in full, the Rand “novice” would come away with a rudimentary, patchwork feel for her ideas at best, so I cannot recommend this book unless you have already read “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” at the very least. ... Read more

9. Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q&A
Paperback: 256 Pages (2005-11-01)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$7.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0451216652
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
After the publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957, Ayn Rand occasionally lectured in order bring her philosophy of Objectivism to a wider audience and apply it to current cultural and political issues. These taped lectures and the question-and-answer sessions that followed not only added an eloquent new dimension to Ayn Rand's ideas and beliefs, but a fresh and spontaneous insight into Ayn Rand herself. Never before available in print, this publishing event is a collection of those enlightening Q & As.

This is Ayn Rand on: ethics, Ernest Hemingway, modern art, Vietnam, Libertarians, Jane Fonda, religious conservatives, Hollywood Communists, atheism, Don Quixote, abortion, gun control, love and marriage, Ronald Reagan, pollution, the Middle East, racism and feminism, crime and punishment, capitalism, prostitution, homosexuality, reason and rationality, literature, drug use, freedom of the press, Richard Nixon, New Left militants, HUAC, chess, comedy, suicide, masculinity, Mark Twain, improper questions, and more. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at Ayn Rand in action
A great compilation of the best of Ayn Rand's question and answer periods following her lectures.

Robert Mayhew's excellent editing organizes the questions and answers into chapters drawn around broad themes (e.g., politics, ethics, metaphysics and epistemology, and art), then into smaller sub-sections. This keeps the reading flowing, instead of jumping around from topic to topic almost at random as would occur in a live Q&A session.

While some of Ayn Rand's answers will be obvious to long-time students of Objectivism, many of them shed new light on her philosophy, and almost all of them give the reader a better picture of Ayn Rand as a person, whether it is her quick wit, her warm benevolence in giving the benefit of the doubt to most questioners and patiently explaining her philosophical principles to them, or her righteous indignation at genuinely dishonest, hostile, or insulting questions. Even her answers to questions on narrow, concrete issues at the time of the session (such as the Vietnam war) are applicable to events today (such as the current Iraq war) because her answers address the deeper abstract principles involved (such as proper foreign policy).

On my first reading, I noticed only two drawbacks. First, a few of her answers leave you wanting more, and you wish that she were still alive and in the room with you so that you could ask her follow-up questions. That's not to say that she doesn't give a full enough answer to the question as asked, given the context of a live public Q&A session, but rather that her intriguing answers leave you feeling sad that you are merely reading a book and not actually in the room during one of those Q&A sessions. Second, if you've ever heard a recording of one of her Q&A's (or were lucky enough to have attended one), you are aware of how much you are missing from the live setting--for example, from the audience reactions, as they audibly gasp in shock or indignation at some remark Ayn Rand makes, but by the end of her answer after she explains the comment, they are cheering. That's an added bonus of the live setting that the book format unfortunately can't reproduce, but if you're a student like me and can't yet afford to spend a few hundred dollars on recordings of all her lectures, this book is the next best thing.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Ayn Rand Sampler
Here's a quick intro to Ayn Rand's thought. It's not a big book but it's pretty wide-ranging. She talks about specific people and issues but her favorite topics are philosophical. With those topics, she explains her chain of reasoning as best she can within the brevity required of the Q&A situation -- so she manages more than a superficial answer. Finally, of course, you get a taste of her difficult personality. That's part of Ayn Rand, too.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Genius of Ayn Rand
This book is a good clear and concise guide to Ayn Rand's thoughts on a variety of issues. From taxes to ethics to Ernest Hemingway to capitalism to homosexuality, Rand forthrightly, clearly and honestly answers many questions put to her.

This book also cleared up many questions I had about Ayn Rand and this book solidifies here as the great intellectual and philosopher she was.

While the book is not, as Robert Mayhew points out, official Objectivism, due to the editing, anyone interested in her philosophy would find this book useful if they would like a short but pointed look at her thought.

As far as the editing is concerned, in my view that's really Robert Mayhew sort of eating his cake and having it too. If it can't be considered Rand's ideas because he edited it then why edit it? Why not release it as she said it? Because if he did they would destroy the myth that she always said brilliant things off the cuff instead of horrible things which she later had to restate and edit.

I also cringe at the term "official Objectivism" since that implies there is a body, in this case the Ayn Rand Institute, that decides what is official. Yet the philosophy itself is supposed to be based on reality. If it is reality based then no one can control it except reality.

I can also see where Dr. Reisman is coming from but, overall, this book is a good introduction to the genius of Ayn Rand.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, brief look at Ayn Rand's opinions.
Ayn Rand's opinions on all things -- and I mean all things -- political, economical, aesthetic, ethical, metaphysical -- are inside of this book. At ~220 pages, it's good to read in short blocks, jumping around to wherever you like, or as reference. It's an excellent book for all fans of Ayn Rand and/or Objectivism -- new or die-hard. A good insight into Rand's opinions. I only have to wonder if she'd have changed her mind about Reagan or the Libertarian Party today.

As a sidenote -- this book looks and feels great! I love Penguin Publishing (publisher of the New American Library series).

5-0 out of 5 stars Ayn Rand did answer
First of all: I do agree with George Reisman's criticism. Nobody has any business changing Ayn Rand's wording, just because he has discovered some contradiction which might as well be imagined as real.

But this is still Ayn Rand, and the book is too valuable not to be recommended. For one thing, it contains the best answer to the question of "free will" that I have ever seen. And there is much more.

One complaint is that the book could be much more extensive. I have heard many insightful answers from Miss Rand on tape that are not included in the book; and there certainly are answers that I have not heard. So I am looking forward to an expanded edition - hopefully without attempts to "improve" on her thinking. ... Read more

10. The Ayn Rand Column: Written for the Los Angeles Times
by Ayn Rand, Peter Schwartz
 Paperback: 134 Pages (1998-10)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1561142921
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Mildly Interesting
THE AYN RAND COLUMN is a collection of columns that Rand wrote for the LA Times in 1962.It also contains a number of other essays by Rand which, for the most part, haven't been published.Even longtime fans of Rand will find something new here.

No doubt Rand's uncritical admirers will insist that "the material is just as timely now as it was in 1962" but quite a bit of it is dated.Nonetheless, the book has its merits.Rand was a good writer and these columns highlight her ability to write short, punchy pieces that get to the point and occasionally make insightful and important points.There are also no diatribes against religion, "mysticism," religious people who worship death, etc. that tends to mar her more serious philosophical essays.Rand claimed never to compromise, but she certainly knew her audience.

So chalk up a minor success for the Ayn Rand Institute.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Truly Interesting Perspective
A long time admirer of Rand's work, I found this a refreshing perspective on her. While I'd come to know her characters and read her philosophical works, I really didn't feel I truly understood her until I read this book. I cannot compare it to letters or the like because I have not read them. But, this work is like looking in on practical applications of her philosophy. For example, her discussion of the value of Christmas to atheist such as herself is very enlightening. In addition, her discussion of the monopoly of force still rings in my mind years after I first read it. Being born in the 70's, growing up in the 80's & 90's, her philosophy brings me much joy compared to the pink socialism that I have seen throughout my life and been frustrated by. I think this work should be a supplement to any serious reader of Rand and would highly recommend this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rand Analyzes the Issues of Her Day in This Timeless Classic
What many regard as the most influential philosopher of the 20th century, Philosopher and Novelist Ayn Rand was known for crafting novels of Hugoesque proportions that presented the heroic elements of the ideal man, as well as writing epistemological treatises on the art of logic and the process of concept formation that focused on the most abstract and fundamental issues to man. In *The Ayn Rand Column*, Rand shifts to a different gear as she writes short crisp pieces on the current issues of her day.

*The Ayn Rand Column* contains over 35 pieces by Rand ranging from the brief, but concise pieces such as an "Introduction to Objectivism", "The Secular Meaning of Christmas", and "Why I Like Stamp Collecting" to the more lengthy "Textbook on Americanism", "Modern Management", and "The Fascist New Frontier." The collection also features an introduction by the book's editor Peter Schwartz, that helps ties the pieces together.

My favorite piece in the collection is Rand's "War and Peace" where Rand makes the case for why today's peace movements are *not* advocates of peace, but of gang-rule, statism, and thus dictatorship. Quoting Rand,

"Professing love and concern for the survival of mankind, these [peace] movements keep screaming that...that armed force and violence should be abolished as a means of settling disputes among nations, and that war should be outlawed in the name of humanity. Yet these same peace movements do not oppose dictatorships; the political views of their members range through all shades of the statist spectrum, from "welfare statism" to socialism to fascism to communism. This means that they are opposed to the use of coercion by one nation against another, but not by the government of a nation against its own citizens; it means that they are opposed to the use of force against *armed* adversaries but not against the *disarmed*..."

And after some discussion of the concretes events to support her claim, Rand concludes:

"...Let all those who are seriously concerned with peace, those who do love *man* and do care about his survival, realize that war cannot be outlawed by lawless statist thugs and that it is not war but *force* that has to be outlawed."

If I may make a brief philosophical assessment: Wow!

What is most illuminating about this collection is Rand's ability to dissect what, at first glance, appears to be a concrete, trivial issue--say the much-maligned "commercialized" gift-giving during Christmas--and shows how it relates to some timeless philosophical principle of vital importance (Sorry! You'll have to read the book for the principle). To use a popular metaphor, Ayn Rand was a woman who could see the forest (abstractions) for the trees (concretes), and vice-versa.

Though this book uses the issues of the 1960's to reveal the work of philosophy in action, it is of value to the modern reader of today, as the philosophical principles Rand elucidates are timeless.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not bad at all
If you would like a quick, easy-to-read introduction to Ayn Rand's philosophy...if you would like to see how Ayn Rand applied her philosophy...if you simply would like a glimpse into the objectivist world,then this is the book. This is a compilation of numerous articles onvarious issues that touched America, including the death of Marilyn Monroe.Some of the articles may shock you, but all require a second read-through.Keep in mind, though, that Ayn Rand was a narcissist who had aclosed-minded view of who her followers were and who they weren't; thatprevented her from portraying objectivism for what it is -- a great"philosophy of philosophy," a method of interpreting humanactions and a guideline for having your own ideas.

4-0 out of 5 stars More current events than philosophy, but still good...
As most of the essays in the book were written as newspaper op-ed pieces, they occasionally suffer from "current-itis"; i.e. they were designed with the assumption that the reader would have familiarity withthe events being discussed. To that end, I would recommend that people whowould like to get the most out of this book brush up a bit on theirearly-'60's history first.

With that caveat, however, I would stronglyencourage anyone with an interest in Ayn Rand's writing to read this book.It is a good example of how to put some of the more abstract parts ofObjectivist philosophy into real-world practice. Rand's book "TheRomantic Manifesto", for example, becomes more clear in the light ofher essay on the television show "The Untouchables".

Also, evenif one is not especially interested in period current events, there aresome essays of broader scope included after the columns. Of particular noteare her essay "The Fascist New Frontier" (an invaluable antidoteto the floods of Kennedy worship pumped out by the mass media), and herexplanation of why atheists can celebrate Christmas. I believe that bothlong-time Objectivists and people who are new to the philosophy can findsomething useful in this book. Furthermore, even if you have no interest inObjectivism, the book is still an enlightening look at a pivotal time inAmerican history. ... Read more

11. Ayn Rand
by Jeffrey Britting, Jeffery Britting, The Overlook Press
Hardcover: 144 Pages (2004-07)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$1.98
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Asin: 1585674060
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description
Ayn Rand made a profound impact as both a philosopher who founded a school of social thought, Objectivism, and as a novelist of penetrating insight and vision. Her works are founded on heroic ideals, demonstrating the maxim that, “man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress.”

The photos and illustrations in this volume have been hand-selected from the Ayn Rand Archives, and most have never been published. They include personal mementos of a Petersburg childhood, her family and their home on Nevsky Prospect; photos from her early years in America; personal papers, including her list of the twelve publishers who passed on The Fountainhead; original newspaper articles, film posters, notes, drawings, and much more.

In a recent poll conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club, Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was voted the novel most influential to American readers. This latest volume of the acclaimed Overlook Illustrated Lives series gives her legions of fans an unprecedented chance to better understand the author they adore. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Well-written, succinct, accurate
I approached this book with a bit of trepidation but was pleasantly surprised. Britting has written a succinct, accurate, and appropriately inspiring precis of Ayn Rand's life. His formula is pretty simple: he sticks scrupulously to the facts, and puts them in their proper perspective. You couldn't ask for more in 134 pages. In addition, the book contains some gorgeous photographs (of St. Petersburg; The Fountainhead dust jacket portrait of Rand; of "Galt's Gulch" in Colorado), and is chock full of intriguing trivia that I hadn't encountered (or dreamed of) in two decades' study of Objectivism: who knew that E.L. Doctorow wrote the ad copy for "For the New Intellectual"; that Rand's favorite painting was Dali's "Corpus Hypercubus"; and that she opposed Japanese internment during WW II?

I also think that Britting's treatment of Rand's HUAC testimony and her association and eventual break with the Brandens is a model of lucidity and fairness. He presents the facts in a way that is favorable to Rand, but the facts he presents are undeniably true and relevant to any judgment one might make about Rand on those issues. I don't see how one can call this "hagiography" unless, of course, one begins with an a priori animosity against Rand (and in favor of Lillian Hellman, the CPUSA, Josef Stalin, the KGB, and/or the Brandens) and wants to see that animosity expressed in print.

As I lack the relevant animosity, I don't see hagiography here; I just see a book well worth reading, and at a bargain price.

4-0 out of 5 stars Filling in the details
Rand was rather circumspect about her life, preferring to let her philosophy be demonstrated through her characters. What biographies there are come from the dubious sources of Nathaniel and Barbara Branden, who are responsible for both the hagiographic Who is Ayn Rand? and the highly critical Judgement Day and The Passion of Ayn Rand. But a reliable biography is a good source: less subject to manipulation, it is a more honest, realistic depiction of a philosophy than a character whose circumstances can be rigged to cast them in the best possible light.

Jeff Britting was an associate producer of the documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life and took the accompanying photographs from the Leonard Peikoff-controlled Ayn Rand Archive, so he has a potential bias as well, though it doesn't particularly show.

But enough talk of biases. This book starts from the very beginning and fills in much detail about Rand's early life, back when she was still Alisa Rosenbaum and living in St. Petersburg. After the scant coverage in the above-mentioned biographies, it's hard to believe that such details are even available, discussing her relationship with her parents and sisters and providing photographs of her birth certificate, the building her family lived in when she was born, and numerous family photos. Fans probably know that her first fictional hero was a character named Cyrus from a boy's magazine of adventure serials. Britting fills in details about how she came upon Cyrus and even includes a drawing.

Such details and illustrations continue throughout: Rand at university, complete with her application photo, a picture of Lev Bekkerman, her first romantic interest, Rand in her museum guide uniform, and her desperation with her ideals conflicting so painfully with the Soviet police state. Even her parents realize that she can't survive for long unless she can get away.

The opportunity opens up in 1924, with an invitation from a cousin of her mother's in Chicago, and the scheming begins: her mother and sisters take politically correct jobs and endeavor to lead exemplary communist lives, all so that Rand can get a passport and leave the country. In early 1926, she manages to do so, shouting to her parents as the train leaves Leningrad, "By the time I come back, I'll be famous!"

The rest of the story is more familiar from the other biographies: moving to Los Angeles, meeting Cecil B. deMille and Frank O'Connor, and beginning her writing career. But the marvelous images continue: Rand's own sketch of Frank, deMille's handwritten access pass for Ayn, and her green card.

I could go on and on about little revelations here and there, but I'll flip quickly to the end, where toward the end of her life Rand begins writing her own screenplay of Atlas Shrugged. One depicted sheet shows thoughts she had on the casting, including such names as Martin Sheen (as Eddie), Tom Skerritt (Francisco), Ned Beatty (Taggart), Kate Jackson, and Julie Christie (no parts suggested for the women).

Some bits are certainly glossed over, such as Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden (mentioned but only very lightly and that it was with the consent of all concerned), and the mistreatment of her husband that the Brandens allege. However, those have been covered in gory detail elsewhere, and this is a brief biography.

But, brief though it may be, it manages to cover a great deal of ground in a mere 118 copiously illustrated pages. This is a must-have for any Rand fan.

1-0 out of 5 stars Poorly written hagiography
This is an excellent example of the cutlish, doltish approach many "objectivists" take to Rand.For the true believers, it is "good" because it reinforces their beliefs.For thinking people on any side of the Rand debate, it is just another simpering example of group-think.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Hymn to a Woman Who Loved Life
This book is simply beautiful -- and it should be. Ayn Rand possessed a benevolent spirit, a tremendous intellect, and an unstoppable dedication to her work. She was both kind and powerful, joyful and driven, witty and serious. In short, Ayn Rand was one of the most intriguing human beings that this world has ever seen. If you don't know about her already, buy Atlas Shrugged. If you do know about her and you simply want to get to know her better, buy this gorgeous and informative little book.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great brief biography
This is a terrific short and graphic biography of philosopher/author Ayn Rand.The photos and images of memorabilia add to the joy of reading this book.This is really a biography and *not* a summary of her philosophy in any way.Of course her life shares some aspects of her heroes- she suffered some setbacks but was ultimately successful.As such this book still makes for an inspirational story.
... Read more

12. The Journals of Ayn Rand
by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff
Hardcover: 752 Pages (1997-09-01)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$214.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0525943706
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
Rarely has a writer and thinker of the stature of Ayn Rand afforded us access to her most intimate thoughts and feelings. From Journals of Ayn Rand, we gain an invaluable new understanding and appreciation of the woman, the artist, and the philosopher, and of the enduring legacy she has left us.

Rand comes vibrantly to life as an untried screenwriter in Hollywood, creating stories that reflect her youthful vision of the world. We see her painful memories of communist Russia and her struggles to conveyy them in We the Living. Most fascinating is the intricate, step-by-step process through which she created the plots and characters of her two masterworks, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and the years of painstaking research that imbued the novels with their powerful authenticity.

Complete with reflections on her legendary screenplay concerning the making of the atomic bomb and tantalizing descriptions of projects cut short by her death, Journals of Ayn Rand illuminates the mind and heart of an extraordinary woman as no biography or memoir ever could. On these vivid pages, Ayn Rand lives. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Important Book About an Amazing Woman
If you happen to be an intellectual struggling through the travails of achieving very long-range goals, then this book has a mother load of precious gems for you to mine. You have to work at it, though. You have to want it. You have to already know what it's like to sit day after day in front of a white piece of paper and force yourself to work—especially to solve difficult mental problems on your own. Serious intellectual work is tough going, and this book will show you just how tough it was even for one of the brightest minds the world has ever known, yet it will also help you to see how that same mind overcame those challenges.

For me, reading this book was a little like having Ayn Rand come back as a ghost to hover over me, urging me on in my struggles to be a fiction writer, promising me that I will succeed if I work hard enough, employ good study methods, always engage my own values, and above all use reason as my guide.

This book is not for everyone. Though David Harriman did a remarkable job of selecting the right content and sorting it for clarity and readability, it remains just what the title states: Ayn Rand's personal journals. It is not a diary. There's nothing here about personal hobbies, romance, or life's milestones. Only her writing notes were included so that the reader can see a straightforward record of the orderly mental processes that she applied to her work.

Personally, I found this book to be challenging, informative, and highly inspirational — a fascinating look into a fascinating mind.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Companion to the Letters
The JOURNALS OF AYN RAND is an important addition to the large body of work by and about Ayn Rand.This work is put out by Rand's Estate, which worked with scholars associated with the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI).JOURNALS contains an introduction and notes by editor David Harriman which are, for the most part, helpful.There is a forward by Leonard Peikoff which is pretty much what you would expect.

Rand wrote out her notes in complete sentences, so there is a good deal of lengthy philosophical and other matters contained in this book.One of the best parts her notes for a work Rand started after THE FOUNTAINHEAD, called THE MORAL BASIS OF INDIVIDUALISM.It's over 60 pages long.Particularly revealing are the notes for an early story called "The Little Street" which is highly Nietzschian in tone, as even the editor had to admit.(Peikoff's forward attempts to downplay the influence of Nietzsche on Rand's thought.)

One thing I found interesting is that most of the journal entries are before 1955.However, Rand didn't start writing philosophical essays until after that.JOURNALS includes some notes for the articles that make up INTRODUCTION TO OBJECTIVIST EPISTEMOLOGY, but that's about it. Editor Harriman tells us that Rand made only brief outlines for her philosophical essays, and felt that publishing them wouldn't add much.I would like to take Harriman's word for it.But was there no benefit to publishing these outlines?This might be a minor point, but for the fact that there are reasons to question the accuracy of the JOURNALS.Prior to this book, some small portions of Rand's journals were published by ARI-associated scholars.In an entry dated January 20, 1947, the previously published version contains a reference to Albert J. Nock, which is left out in the version published in JOURNALS.There are other changes as well, such as the removal of "duty" in a passage on ethics.[Sciabarra,"Bowlderizing Ayn Rand", Liberty, Sept. 1998.]This isn't a big deal to fans and casual students, but to scholars attempting to sort out the influence of other thinkers on Rand's thought, it is a big problem.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting background material but her novels are better
I was initially disappointed. The early pages are difficult to read andmostly seem to restate stuff that shows up in more polished form later.However, you can see the transition from quasi-Nietzschean ideals to a moremature Objectivism, and in particular the transition of the primary virtuebeing independence (The Fountainhead) to rationality (Atlas Shrugged). Interesting elements: Rand's notes for a movie about the invention of theatomic bomb, including what she was trying to convey and what she learnedfrom her interviews. Her notes on books about architecture, her response towhat she considers silliness, and her adaptation of what is said tocharacters in the book.

Most of the notes from Atlas Shrugged deal withanalyzing the psychology of the "parasite." This goes on for pages andseems rather tedious since it comes across as largely speculation-noevidence is cited. More interesting are the notes from the interviews sheconducted about how to depict a steel mill and other settings that occur inthe book.

Also noted that she wants to believe in the existence of a soul(i.e., the element of a human being that thinks and is not part ofconventional matter). That was rather striking!

I am inordinately proudof myself for finishing it in one day, though I wonder at the same time howmuch I missed. Can't see myself rereading it anytime soon, though. If Ireread anything, it will probably be Atlas Shrugged or possibly TheFountainhead.

5-0 out of 5 stars An essential take on the evolution of Ayn Rand!
I agree with Stephen Cox, who writes on The Daily Objectivist website: "One of its best features is the large amount of plain good writing that one discovers here, much more than one might expect to find in anauthor's working notes. Rand does very well in the medium of brief and (asshe thought) temporary comments. The volume contains many shrewdobservations, vital expressions of personality, and spirited confrontationswith intellectual problems."A great insight into a great mind!

3-0 out of 5 stars Dear Diary
Interested in Ayn Rand's personal life as well as her philosophy? "Journals" offers an interesting look at the famous author. ... Read more

13. Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life : The Companion Book
by Michael Paxton
Hardcover: 191 Pages (1998-05)
list price: US$34.95 -- used & new: US$14.94
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Asin: 0879058455
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars New Discovery
I had never heard of Ayn Rand till I spotted the DVD "A Sense of Life" in the local library the other day!!! I am a fan of documentary bios.,so wanted to take a look...film opened a new world to me...I had seen "The Fountainhead" with Cooper in the past..kind of a "soaper"...but this DVD brought a whole new perspective to me about a very interesting woman!!! I produce an access TV show where I live....I'm into film productions...found this a delight!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars An inspiring look at a philosophic genius.
This book is a fascinating portrait of Ayn Rand.It shows in engrossing detail the depth of her thinking and brilliance of her philosophy, Objectivism.

As a companion to the Oscar-nominated movie this book is agreat coffee table reminder of one of the greatest accomplishments of the20th century; Ayn Rand's creation of a fully integrated, non-contradictorycode of morality.

1-0 out of 5 stars <shrug>
The story of a woman who said she would stop the motor of the world - and didn't.

1-0 out of 5 stars Glossy but dumb
A Child's Golden Book of Ayn Rand... Why in the world would someone take the time and trouble to publish a book without acquainting himself with the facts of his subject's life?This book is a superficial, riddled witherrors and worthwhile only for the photos.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Celebration
Many in this review section argue about whether this book is biased as it doesn't show Rand's flaws, about whether objectivism is a cult, etc.

All of this misses the point.Whether or not she was a perfect person (ofcourse she wasn't), whether or not this book is biased (it probably is),Ayn Rand was right.Her basic philosophy was pretty much the only moral,consistent, and life affirming one ever produced (whether or not sheherself applied it perfectly).This book celebrates the only person everto figure it out, and express it eloquently.Whatever her flaws or thebooks flaws, the world certainly needs (not deserves!) this book more thanthe countless other pieces of garbage out there. ... Read more

14. Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand (Re-Reading the Canon)
Hardcover: 413 Pages (1999-02)
list price: US$71.00 -- used & new: US$48.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0271018305
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (10)

1-0 out of 5 stars Rembrandt confetti
Rand's morphing in a feminist is the entire object of the book; hence the new term "Randian-Feminism." In "Looking Back," the essay "Ayn Rand: The Reluctant Feminist" is a nice piece of misinformation, since Rand was not a reluctant feminist. "Feminist Rereadings of Rand's Fiction" is a tiresome attempt to squeeze meanings out of scenes and characters of Rand's books that she mostly never meant. This is accomplished with a huge amount of psychobabble, qualifying it for the psychobabble award of the decade. They pedantically slice many of Rand's phrases, finding links between anything and everything in their content, however irrelevant, then assemble these into a new set of "meanings."They are like monkeys with scissors, cutting up a Rembrandt, and turning it into a Jackson Pollock. The last part, "Toward a Randian Feminism?" consists of views on Rand's feminist possibilities. Again, through pure psychobabble and distortion, various writers bend and stretch Rand into a ridiculous caricature feminist - even a camp feminist, thanks very much. This lame attempt to morph Rand into a feminist won't work in the end - like graffiti on her tombstone, it will eventually wash off.

1-0 out of 5 stars N. Branden's comments silly and layered with irony
Nathaniel Branden writes in his review: "...this book, criticisms of Rand and all, will do more to advance the cause of Rand's work than all their (actual Objectivists) true-believer praise and idiotic adulation."

Branden should review some of his own writings about making groundless, arbitrary assertions.Just exactly why or how is such a book superior in "advancing the cause"?As AR would have said: "No answer is given".

Secondly - anyone familiar with the 'personal history' of AR and Branden should find his use of the term "idiotic adulation" to be layered with irony.You couldn't find a more idiotic way to express 'adulation' for someone who is in the role of your mentor then ...well ... you know.

Sorry about that - but it had to be said.

Sciabarra is pretty obviously not too bright, and no comparison can be made between such a so-called 'scholar' and the truly educated and intelligent "poor souls at ARI".

Just another non-intellectual book on Ayn Rand that will be forgotten by the time Objectivism really takes hold.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent wide-ranging scholarly discussion
I'm a contributor to this anthology. This book covers a lot of new ground, bringing together people and perspectives all over the map, from different disciplines and backgrounds, and even three continents. Few things provide a more fruitful and explosive combination than Ayn Rand and feminism. While most contributors to the book are feminists, at least one, maybe two are anti-feminist (depending on how one would classify Camille Paglia). Most contributors are positive to Rand, in the sense that they/we feel that Rand contributed a lot of value (and that more value can be gained by engaging Rand and feminism with each other), but not in the sense of uncritical idolatry. Rand provokes a lot of polarized response: idolatry or condemnation. What Rand needs is a more balanced and scholarly treatment, and engagement with other thinkers and traditions in intellectual history, and this volume does provide that. Feminism has individualist and collectivist wings, and the collectivist wings have been too dominating recently; engaging with Rand can lead to a revival of individualist feminism. In my own contribution, entitled _The Female Hero: A Randian-Feminist Synthesis_, (ifi.uio.no/~thomas/po/female-hero.html) I apply and extend Rand's conception of heroism to women, leading towards a new radical individualist feminism which is interestingly also an ancient vision of female strength and power. Thus I compare and combine Rand with myths of Amazons, and writers who explore these ancient images of power, writers like Merlin Stone, Barbara Walker and Riane Eisler and scholarly accounts of ancient goddesses and heroines. I also discuss androgyny and postandrogyny, and non-patriarchal sexualities. My article is available on my web site. I would also recommend the web site of Chris Sciabarra (co-editor of the book), where you can find a subsite about the book, which includes highlights from reviews and discussions of the book, including the archives of a structured online seminar going through all the articles of the entire book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Many disciplines brought to bear ...
This anthology includes a marvelous variety of perspectives on Rand's philosophy as well as her fiction; to criticize this work based on the all-or-nothing behavior of the ARI or on (mis)perceptions of Rand's "egoism" is to fail to engage the actual subjects of the articles themselves.To address some of the arguments leveled in previous reviews:

This book does not claim to "promote" Rand, nor are its articles written from the perspective of the true believer.To disagree with Rand's Objectivism does nothing to address the contents of the anthology.As a matter of fact, several of the contributors themselves strongly disagree with and/or disapprove of Rand, for various reasons.

The editors do not claim Rand was herself a feminist, although the essays provide a framework for interpreting Rand from a feminist perspective.Further, Rand's self-identification as NOT a feminist does not mean that there is nothing in her work that can be applied to feminism, or from which feminism might benefit.

And to claim that the volume is trying to "cash in" on Rand's name is to ignore the entire scope of literary, philosophical, cultural, psychoanalytic, and feminist criticism.The work of the literary critic, for example, involves interpreting a text from a new perspective in order to suggest meanings or structures, to uncover parallels or contradictions, and to struggle with conceptual knots found in the text.One reading will differ from another, opening up different aspects of the text that may or may not have anything to do with the author; once a book has been written, anyone who reads it is free to interpret it as he or she sees fit.For the most part, the contributors here provide in-depth scholarly analyses and plenty of documentation to support their theses.By placing Rand in a sealed box, refusing to allow her work to be interpreted and discovered, and refusing to allow new minds to draw new conclusions from her stated premises, her devoted followers only guarrantee the death of Rand's ideas.

For those interested in current Rand scholarship rather than the repitition of Objectivist mantras, this anthology is superb.If you can't bear to hear any new thoughts on Rand, re-read Atlas Shrugged.If you hate Ayn Rand and think her philosophy is the root of all self-serving capitalist American evil, why the heck are you reading this anthology???Save your cult-baiting for the Down With Objectivism website.

4-0 out of 5 stars CULT?
The following of Ayn Rand is a not a "cult."As rational people, we should be able to draw the distinction.About this book: while it is certainly interesting, Rand was never a feminist.Though the authorstry, its a stretch.Nevertheless, its good reading. ... Read more

15. On Ayn Rand (Wadsworth Philosophers Series)
by Allan Gotthelf
Paperback: 104 Pages (1999-12-29)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$1.35
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0534576257
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description
This brief text assists students in understanding Ayn Rand's philosophy and thinking so that they can more fully engage in useful, intelligent class dialogue and improve their understanding of course content. Part of the "Wadsworth Philosophers Series," (which will eventually consist of approximately 100 titles, each focusing on a single "thinker" from ancient times to the present), ON AYN RAND is written by a philosopher deeply versed in the philosophy of this key thinker. Like other books in the series, this concise book offers sufficient insight into the thinking of a notable philosopher better enabling students to engage the reading and to discuss the material in class and on paper. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

2-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Introduction to Rand
Allan Gotthelf is a philosopher and a follower of the ideas of philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand. He is associated with the Ayn Rand Institute, which advocates the "Official Objectivism" of Leonard Peikoff.

Generally speaking, ON AYN RAND is reliable introduction to Rand's thought. On the other hand, it's of the strangest books I've read in terms of its "construction."The endnotes take up an unusually large percentage of the book.For example, chapter 4 is 5 pages long and the endnotes almost 3 full pages.In addition, much valuable information that is contained in the endnotes belongs in the text.The discussion of her first novel, WE THE LIVING, takes up one paragraph in the text, but there are three paragraph length endnotes that tell you much more about the novel.This is highly unusual for any book, particularly an introduction.It's almost as if the book was put together from two separate sources.And, although the book is 97 pages long, the section on Rand's politics is one page long!Simply put, this is not a book that will grab the attention of those new to Rand or those who know her mostly through her novels and politics.

What is most troubling about the book is its partisan tone, which at times approaches agitprop.There is not a single word of criticism of Rand, and Gotthelf's praise is overboard.We read about the "poignant and beautiful lines" of one of her books, how her theories are "remarkable" and "original," and how her theory of concept formation would change the world if only we would let it into our heart.There is also a deliberate attempt to downplay the influence of Nietzsche (or any other thinker) on her thought.But what I found most irritating is that 100% of the time she is referred to as "Ayn Rand."A huge flaw is the failure to mention any books on Ayn Rand not written by Official Objectivists.Indeed, when he mentions in a footnote that Barbara Branden wrote a memoir/biography of Rand, he doesn't even name the book (although he insists that it's riddled with errors).He claims that there is no evidence that Rand's philosophy professors in Russia influenced her - an obvious reference to Chris Sciabarra's book AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL - but he doesn't mention Sciabarra or the book's title.The bibliography mentions only books by Rand, with the exception of Peikoff's OBJECTIVISM: THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND.

Although Rand has been the subject of considerable interest of late, there is still no completely satisfactory introduction to her thought.The best introduction remains Tibor Machan's AYN RAND.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good gloss-over of Rand
This book is good for someone who wants to understand Rand but does not yet want to dive into the endless books by and on Rand.It is a good overview of her philosophy and life, but certainly not complete.

Those liking this book will also like "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" by Leonard Piekoff

3-0 out of 5 stars A good short summary of Rand's errors
Allan Gotthelf has written a decent little book here. Aside from a couple of annoying verbal habits (e.g. always writing out Ayn Rand's full name every time he refers to her) and a couple of unpleasantnesses (e.g. some nasty remarks about the Brandens and the existing secondary literature on Objectivism), this is actually a pretty well-written and well-organized brief overview of Rand's thought. (Of course -- heh heh! -- you shouldn't expect to understand it all _right away_. It takes _many, many years of serious study_ to learn that Rand was absolutely correct in every single particular.)

The presentation is orderly, if occasionally skimpy. Gotthelf devotes a couple of short, fawning chapters (well, all the chapters are short -- and fawning, too, come to think of it) to Rand's sinless life and then proceeds to take the reader on a guided tour through the main features of her thought in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Political theory gets short shrift, but that's okay; while it was undoubtedly the strongest (or at any rate the least vulnerable) portion of Rand's philosophy, it was also by far the least original (which, actually, is _why_ it was the least vulnerable). Aesthetics doesn't get much attention either, which is sort of too bad, but maybe Gotthelf doesn't want to give away too many of Rand's propaganda techniques.

I especially enjoyed the tour; it's always a pleasure to encounter a book that one has completely refuted before it was even published. The reviewer from Austin is right: Rand _wasn't_ really a very good philosopher. And Gotthelf's accurate-but-uncritical summary of Rand has been a tremendous help to me in rewriting, for publication, my critique of Rand's epistemology (still available in an earlier draft form on my website); he confirms and recommits every error I pick on her for, and may even introduce one or two new ones of his own. (For example, at one point he seems to imply that the "primacy of existence" premise commits him to materialism.)

You may well imagine that critics of Objectivism (of whom I am obviously one) receive lots of silly e-mails telling them they've gotten this or that point entirely wrong (usually from people who don't seem to be able to read all that well themselves). So I'm happy to say that at numerous points I have been able to use Gotthelf's handy little text to confirm (yet again) that I was reading Rand correctly after all, and that she was just as wrong as I said she was. Now that I've taken account of his work in rewriting my own, the result is a much clearer critique. (Which just goes to show, I suppose, that Objectivists and libertarians _can_ cooperate in a good cause.)

And I'm not kidding about the quality of Gotthelf's work; this _is_ a fairly well-executed introduction, although it will probably be a bit hard to read for anyone completely unfamiliar with Rand's work. For the most part (but not entirely!) this little book reads like a precis of Leonard Peikoff's _Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand_ (which is, by the way, one of the few items of "secondary Objectivist literature" about which Gotthelf has anything good to say). As such it will make a helpful companion to that volume, whether Peikoff likes it or not. (And as I hinted, if you read carefully you'll find a few points at which Gotthelf disagrees with Peikoff and the ARI mainstream. For example, did Rand think her ethic was founded on an "axiom"? Compare Gotthelf's remarks with David Harriman's in the _Journals of Ayn Rand_.)

It will also be helpful to anyone -- Randie or otherwise -- who wants a quick and dirty summary of what Objectivism is all about. Love it or hate it, here it is.

1-0 out of 5 stars All of Rand's Sins, None of Her Virtues
Gotthelf's book is probably the worst introduction to Rand yet written.

The book is clear to a reader only if that reader is already highly familiar with the idiosyncratic semi-technical vocabulary of Objectivism. Indeed, not only does Gotthelf express Rand's thoughts in Rand's rather obscure way of speaking, he typically lets her speak for herself - literally. Most of the main ideas are introduced by way of quoting Rand, at length. This might be okay were Gotthelf to then elucidate Rand's strange formulations, but he takes it for granted that the quotations are clear.But, when cut from context, the quotations lose most of their original flavor. This means that Gotthelf has managed to replicate all of the problems with Rand's unclear and inconsistent language without replicating any of her energy and lively style.

Gotthelf has a skewed approach to the question of how much of the book to use on a given subject. He devotes quite a bit of it to deeply a adoring account of Rand's biography, without citing the unauthorized memoir and biography by Rand's closest companions or even the authorized biography written by Barbara Branden in the early 1960's. He does cite Leonard Peikoff's biographical essay on Rand. It is appropriate that Gotthelf, who fails to display much concern with the truth about Rand's life, should cite Peikoff: Peikoff concludes that essay by explaining that our wishes determine what kind of a person Rand was.

One could tolerate hagiography if it at least included some relevant information about the development of Rand's philosophy. But this one does not. The well-articulated and strongly defended theory that Rand's philosophical development was much influenced by her immersion, in the Russia of her youth and education, in the dialectical methodology characteristic to the approach of virtually all academics in virtually all subjects on virtually all sides of virtually all questions. That is, Gotthelf manages to spend about a third of the book celebrating Rand, without mentioning the one and only fact about her personal history that is at all interesting from a philosophical point of view: that she may have taken elements of her philosophical methodology from the educational system in which she studied.

Gotthelf's skewed sense for what is worth including is displayed elsewhere, in his decision to spend about 40% of the book on Rand's metaphysics; primarily her theory of concepts. This leads him to shortchange Rand's politics, dealing with Rand's most well-known theory on a single page.

But, since Gotthelf spends so much of the book on Rand's metaphysics, and uses quotations from Rand to do most of his explaining, we must ask whether this book is a more efficient introduction to Rand's metaphysics than just reading Rand. Rand's work on metaphysics is about 100 pages long; more if you count the appendices, which help to elucidate but add little that's really essential. So now we're wading through 35 pages of hagiography and 40 pages of metaphysics to get not just the same old explanations but quotations that one could have found in Rand in a book that's only about 25 pages longer.

The discussion of ethics is similarly problematic. Rand's meta-ethical argument is deeply obscure. One cannot, by reading her essay on the subject, discover what are its premises, what are its conclusions, and how one infers the conclusions from the premises. All of the various interpretations of this argument that have been offered have been subjected to serious criticism. Gotthelf neither explains the argument (more quotations) nor even tries to show how it can deal with the criticisms that have been offered.

Rand was not a really very good philosopher; her programmatic, mostly methodological, insights require a total reworking from the bottom up. One wonders whether she'll ever acquire a scholarly following capable of doing this, or if the poor woman will be forever cursed with unconstructive, admiring sycophants on the scale of Gotthelf.

1-0 out of 5 stars Very Hard to Read
I found it extremely difficult to get through each page.This is a very poorly written book. ... Read more

16. Ayn Rand
by Tibor R. Machan
Paperback: 163 Pages (2000-03)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0820441449
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
Machan's book explores all the major themes of Ayn Rand's philosophical thought. He shows the frequent strengths and occasional weaknesses of Rand's mature philosophy of Objectivism, drawing on his own, and many others', discussion of this challenging and iconoclastic thinker's ideas. Machan's treatment of Rand is a welcome addition to the growing literature of serious scholarship on Rand's philosophical work. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Sloppily insightful
Machan writes in the preface that his book is intended as an introduction to Rand's ideas for readers who may have heard of her but not examined her philosophy in detail.In my view, Machan's book gets a C on his own professed assignment.At times, Machan demonstrates keen insight and a top notch grasp of Rand's philosophy.But for his book to be a quality introduction to readers unfamiliar with Rand's ideas, he would need to step up his writing and organization skills tremendously.Compared to Rand's own writing and the works with a similar purpose to Machan's of many of her followers, Machan's writing is downright sloppy.You get the impression that Machan sat down one morning on his toilet and kicked out a few chapters on Rand's philosophy and then brought it to the publishing house later that afternoon.He's like the C-Bo (a Sacramento rapper) of philosophy--he loves to produce work in abundance but isn't all that concerned with the quality of the outcome of those products.Also, at times it seems like Machan read Rand's not-meant-to-be-published journals and took them to be her final word on philosophical issues.This manifests itself in his chapter on Rand's ethics, when his emphasis on her idea that a human being must act in accordance with his nature is way too great (not to mention the fact that he quotes her from those journals multiple times in a context which implies her final say).At that point, Rand had considered that an axiom.But she later understood that it was not an axiom--that it is validated by the fact that values are derived from life, and a being's nature determines how it must act to survive.Machan almost seems to agree with the early Rand that it is an axiom.The result of all this is that he does not do justice to Rand's actual moral theory.Someone reading it as an introduction to her ethics would rightfully not be all that convinced.Luckily he quotes some passages from Rand's own The Virtue of Selfishness.

Overall, I would recommend this book to afficionados of Objectivism, for Machan looks at many of Rand's ideas comes from (at times) a unique and illuminating perspective.But expect sloppy writing and mediocre organization, and don't read if you're looking for an intro to Rand's philosophy.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not very informative
I gave it such a low score not because the book is badly written, or one cannot understand it, but rather because it is not very informative and I'm not sure to whom is it addressed.

If you are already have an interest for Objectivism or Ayn Rand, and might want to learn somewhat deeper into the subject, this book won't help you much. It is an introduction, but since it rarely explains where the claims of Objectivism comes from that it is not a very useful introduction. In this case one might do better going directly to another book.

If you are like me, and you only want to read one book on Objectivism because it was brought up in a conversation or something similar, this book will probably not satisfy you, since again, it makes claims that are not even remotely backed up.

The author spends most of the book saying that Rand gives way to an objective moral and ethical system. To me that sounded like the most interesting part of Objectivism, and yet the author never stops to explain how this is so. I wouldnt have expected the full outline of such a system in an introductory text, but it would have helped if even a little of the path was shown, or even delineated. Instead we are asked to believe (with no reason for it) that this is so, and we are kept this way through the whole book.

All in all, I found the book disapointing, and it was unable to answer my passing curiosity on the subject. If you are more interested on the subject, I would also recomend that you go for another book where a more indepth analysis is shown.

3-0 out of 5 stars Hastily put together but rather friendly and interesting
"Rand's Objectivism, of all the schools of contemporary philosophy, may well be the one that holds out the best, most ..........." Tibor R. Machan

Unlike most independent Ayn Rand scholars, who tend to consider themselves as superiorprofessionals correcting the childish blunders of an incompetent amateur,Tibor Machan, as the above quote suggests, is a respectful commentator whocorrectly recognizes that Ayn Rand was a major philosopher and that most ofwhat Randian scholars today can hope to accomplish is to polish up someaspects of her philosophical system, develop new applications of it andconfront the latest batch of criticisms from academia. As far as hispersonal philosophy is concerned, he seems to have accepted most of thefundamentals of Objectivism, and in most contemporary philosophicalbattles, he is generally on the right side, defending free-will againstdeterminism, ethical cognitivism vs. non-cognitivism, the free society vs.welfare statism and marxism, and the morality of business against leftistand conservative smears. I would therefore consider him an estranged friendof Objectivism, to be distinguished from the self-styled "sympatheticobservers" of the philosophy who in the next breath call Rand apseudo-philosopher.

Unfortunately, Machan tends to suffer from a lack ofsystem and hierarchy in his writings, and nowhere is this clearer than inthe present book. Compared to Peikoff's *Objectivism: The Philosophy of AynRand* or even Gotthelf's *On Ayn Rand*, which are beautifully structuredand clearly distinguish fundamentals from derivatives, Machan's *Ayn Rand*is much less integrated and systematic.

This lack of system of courseneed not be a reflection of Machan's own mental functioning, even though hedoes have a penchant for pluralism and eclecticism, but is probably due tothe way the book was put together: *Ayn Rand* is essentially a disjointedcollection of articles previously published in various reviews, newslettersand books. Chapter 4, "Rand's Rational Individualism", forinstance, is a slightly edited copy of chapter 10 of *The PhilosophicalThought of Ayn Rand*.

Machan's lack of enthusiasm for philosophicalhierarchy does sometimes affect his conclusions, though. For instance, whenhe states that "in some parts of his moral philosophy and in politics,Kant was closer to [Rand's] own ideas than are most otherphilosophers" (p117), he clearly shows his rejection of theObjectivist tenet that one cannot understand a statement out of the wholehierarchy of a man's philosophical ideas. This may also explain why hefeels sympathetic to the libertarians and leans to the "moraltolerationist" wing of Objectivism.

Anyway, I do recommend this bookas a good overview of Objectivism, and perhaps as a better *introduction*to this philosophy than Gotthelf's very compact volume (though the latteris a more reliable statement of the content of the philosophy). Machan makes interesting comments on the distinction between derivation anddeduction and he identifies a few contemporary philosophers whose views arevery similar to Objectivism. His more haphazard reflections on"Problems Left for Objectivism" however suffer from a lack offamiliarity with the more recent taped material and simplemisinterpretations of Objectivist tenets. (For instance, though he has read*We The Living*, he asks: "Cannot a work of art be quite excellent,yet... sad? Tragic?", perpetuating a common caricature of theObjectivist esthetics.) Finally, I must say I found some of the statementsin the book cryptic or highly dubious: "Rand's foundationalism can becharacterized as post-epistemological" or "Rand's approach isalso consistent with... an (almost) anything-goes, (almost) Feyerabendianlaissez-faire attitude towards the methods of factual investigation".

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Rand
This is the best introduction to Ayn Rand available.Because Prof. Machan was never a member of Rand's inner circle, he can write freely on her philosophy and discuss its strengths as well as weaknesses.Nonetheless, Prof. Machan clearly admires Rand and considers her an importantphilosopher.

There are a number of merits to this book: (1) Prof.Machan provides a clear overview of Rand's position on most philosophicalquestions, placing prominence on Rand's axiomatic concepts; (2) the bookcontains a solid discussion of Rand's works; and (3) chapter 7 - on variousquestions that Rand failed to consider - is excellent.

There are someweaknesses to the work as well. First, Prof. Machan doesn't spend enoughtime on Rand's theory of concept formation, which her followers consider hegreatest contribution to philosophy.Second, he is too kind to Rand whenit comes to her often unfair and inaccurate attacks on other philosophers. While he says that Rand caricatures other thinkers, the fact is that Randhad little knowledge of the history of philosophy and her discussion ofother philosophers is simply pathetic.Anyone who doubts this should readher essay, "For the New Intellectual." Third, like many of Rand'sadmirers, Prof. Machan overestimates Rand's originality.The fact is thatmost of Rand's ideas can be found in other writers.

In spite of itsflaws, this is generally an outstanding book.I recommend it highly. ... Read more

17. Anthem: 50th Anniversary Edition
by Ayn Rand
Hardcover: 128 Pages (1995-08-01)
list price: US$23.95
Isbn: 0525940154
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
Available for the first time in trade paperback--this provocative book is "an anthem sung in praise of man's ego"--from the legendary author Ayn Rand

Anthem has long been hailed as one of Ayn Rand's classic novels, and a clear predecessor to her later masterpieces, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In Anthem, Rand examines a frightening future in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values. Equality 7-2521 lives in the dark ages of the future where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, and all traces of individualism have been wiped out. Despite such a restrictive environment, the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in him--a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, Equality 7-2521 dares to stand apart from the herd--to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin. In a world where the great "we" reign supreme, he has rediscovered the lost and holy word--"I."Download Description
A stunning and brilliantly realized future world in which individuality has been crushed is the theme of Ayn Rand's bestselling masterpiece, "Anthem". Rand presents her tale of a man who dares to make individual choices, to seek knowledge in a dark age, to love the woman of his choice. In a society in which people have no name, no independence, and no values, he is hunted for the unpardonable crime: having the courage to stand above the crowd. Introduction by Leonard Peikoff. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (434)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
If you read only one book this year, read this one. Thought provoking, moving, soul stirring.

3-0 out of 5 stars Neither the best of Rand nor of the dystopian genre
I am a big fan of Ayn Rand, and I love dystopian literature, so I expected to be blown away by Anthem. Instead, I was quite disappointed. It seems as though Rand read Evgeny Zamyatin's We (published over a decade before Anthem) and penned a much weaker version of her own.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful and thought provoking!
Thought provoking and a great choice for anyone in a book club. It is sure to drum up excellent conversation, philosophical differences among friends and enable to reader to do more than just pass the time with a good book. This book gave me goosebumps as it made me consider the possibilities of what if...

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction to Ayn Rand's Ideas
ANTHEM is a very short novel written by Ayn Rand in 1938.It deals with a dystopian future where individualism is banned and the collective reigns supreme.

I enjoyed reading ANTHEM.It serves as a good introduction to Ayn Rand's objectivist philosophy.You should keep in mind, however, the story itself is only about eighty-five pages long.I finished the book in about ninety minutes.

Half of the mass-market paperback edition consists of the entire British manuscript of ANTHEM, with Ayn Rand's handwritten editorial changes for the American edition.Although some people might find this material interesting, I found it to be a waste of space.Nearly all the edits are technical in nature, designed to tighten the writing style and nothing more.I learned nothing new from it.

ANTHEM is worth reading, but I'm not a big fan of this particular edition.Why not combine ANTHEM with a set of essays dealing with Rand's philosophy?That would make more sense to me.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Ayn Rand starter book. Ayn Rand-Lite
I'm embarrassed to admit I just found out about this book and read it for the first time recently.

Anthem's contribution to the Ayn Rand philosophy is almost negligible compared to The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. But Anthem is short and accessible to the average reader. My gifted 10 year old read Anthem and understood it.

This should be the first Ayn Rand book you read. If you like it, read The Fountainhead. Save Atlas Shrugged, her finest achievement, for last.

Ayn Rand is the most important writer since Adam Smith. Her works are as timely now as when they were written. If they were required reading in high school and college ours would be much smarter (and more prosperous, and more free, etc.) ... Read more

18. What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand
by Louis Torres, Michelle Marder Kamhi
Hardcover: 539 Pages (2000-06)
list price: US$44.95 -- used & new: US$44.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812693728
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (12)

1-0 out of 5 stars This book should be called "What Art ISN'T"
I never agreed with the theory of Ayn Rand to begin with-- I thought she was just a mean, selfish, self-centered person to begin with. This book just proves my point even further. The book seems to focus more on what Rand believes is NOT art than what art actually IS. I find the writing style to be quite boring and drawn out, as well. I'm not any established art scholar (as I'm sure Torres and Kamhi are), but this book is just downright boring and offensive to those in the world (including myself) who consider themselves to be artists in fields that Rand doesn't consider to be art.

5-0 out of 5 stars WOW!
My response to this work is captured in the title of my review. Torres and Khamy have achieved a level of scholarship in What Art Is that no other writer on the aesthetic theory of Rand has accomplished in the twenty years since the author's death. I would rank it along with Sciabarra's monumental Ayn Rand the Russian Radical. It's enormous accomplishment will keep Rand studies alive and bring her fame. Like Oscar Wilde she set out on her literary career either to be a writer or to become notorious. Notorious is mostly what she has become. Despite anyone's personal views on Rand's aesthetic theory whether completely sound or not, these authors have demonstrated that what they are going to be known for is EXCELLENT scholarship. This book has enough reference and bibliographical material to baffle any academic, and their grasp of the areas that are relevent to Rand scholarship is enormous! I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what the work of a genuine scholar is. Jacques Barzun got it right, if these authors are students of his, they deserve the highest marks.

4-0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, despite some flaws
I did not expect to like this book. Rand's esthetics are the part of her philosophy I find most deplorable.And although Torres and Kamhi are not slavish admirers of Rand who follow her every word, I can't say I cared much for their dreary essentialism.Rand was part of the Aristotlean tradition in philosophy.Her philosophy is more telogically centered than the naturalism of the pre-Socratics or modern science.It also embraces a form of "methdological essentialism," as the philosopher Karl Popper dubbed it, which I find hard to take, especially in strong doses.Methodological essentialists stress the importance of "What is" questions and the definitions of words.Torres and Kamhi, like Rand herself, are uncompromising definition mongers and "what is" analyzers. But I don't think esthetic questions can be solved by answering such questions as "What is art?" or "What is literature?" or by claiming that the bad, non-representational art of modernism and post-modernism is not really art at all, but a kind of fraudulent non-art pretending to be art.Torres and Kamhi stress the importance of defining art, but I have little use for this mode of analysis.Emphasis on definitions simply leads to hopeless arguments about words.I would much rather know why some works of art are successful and some not than know how art should be defined.Art is far too complicated to be summed up in essence of some definition.What I want to know is how does this or that piece of art function aesthetically, and if it functions well or poorly, than why?Science and naturalism emphasize "why" and "how" questions.This is what I would have liked to see from Torres and Kamhi.But being from the Socratic/Aristotlean tradition in philosophy, they have a different methodological point of view on this matter, one I find hopelessly inferior to the methodological nominalism of the sciences.

Nevertheless, despite these criticisms, I urge all those who are interested in art to read the book, regardless of what they think of Rand.The book is written on a much higher level than most pro-Rand books that are published nowadays.Torres and Kamhi, unlike Rand's orthodox disciples, at least are sound scholars with an appreciation for empirical evidence and close logical analysis.They are fair to opposing viewpoints (unlike Rand herself, who treated opponents as if they were sub-human), and they provide an excellent overview of the excesses of modern and post-modern art.Merely as a phillipic against bad art (or, as the authors would insist, "non-art"), I would give this book a five star rating.But because of the methodological essentialism, I have to drop it down to four.The emphasis on definitions really can get annoying.

5-0 out of 5 stars Insightful & challenging reading for art criticism students
What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory Of Ayn Rand surveys philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand (1905-1982) commentaries on the nature and meaning of art, contrasting her theory of esthetics with those of other thinkers. The authors conclude that, in its basic principles, Rand's account is compelling, and is corroborated by evidence from anthropology, neurology, cognitive science, and psychology. Rand's theory is applied to a debunking of the work of prominent modernists & postmodernists. Highly recommended, insightful, and challenging reading for students of philosophy and arts criticism, What Art Is concludes with an exploration of the implications of Rand's ideas for the issues of government and corporate support of the arts, art law, and arts education.

5-0 out of 5 stars A humanistic outlook on art.
Cutting through the confusion of the last century, Torres and Kamhi, present a lucid, extended, and in-depth discussion of the fundamental nature of art. As art is often intensely personal for both artist and audience alike, the authors present their ideas with consideration and tolerance; they show amble appreciation for the breath of human artistic achievement. They also review the contempt of the art establishment towards the views and needs of the vast art audience, as these experts have denigrated the creation of representational painting, tonal music, and traditional art in general. ... Read more

19. Atlas Shrugged
by Ayn Rand
Paperback: 1200 Pages (1999-08-01)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$10.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452011876
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Book Description
At last, Ayn Rand's masterpiece is available to her millions of loyal readers in trade paperback.

With this acclaimed work and its immortal query, "Who is John Galt?", Ayn Rand found the perfect artistic form to express her vision of existence. Atlas Shrugged made Rand not only one of the most popular novelists of the century, but one of its most influential thinkers.

Atlas Shrugged is the astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world--and did. Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged stretches the boundaries further than any book you have ever read. It is a mystery, not about the murder of a man's body, but about the murder--and rebirth--of man's spirit.

* Atlas Shrugged is the "second most influential book for Americans today" after the Bible, according to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month ClubDownload Description
Who is John Galt?

This famous rhetorical question rings through Ayn Rand's best-selling novel as the people's anthem of despair in depressed economic times.

Set in the future, the novel follows capitalist magnates as they battle looters, strikers, and the impending ruin of the United States' economy. The romantic and intellectual relationship between Dagny Taggart, the heroine, and John Galt, whose identity as the leader of the strike is eventually revealed, carries the novel to its climax.

This novel, controversial when it first appeared in 1957, purports Rand's objectivist philosophy that the individual is free to pursue his or her own happiness without bowing to God or society. Objectivism in action upholds full laissez-faire capitalism as the only philosophy that can protect humankind's freedom to think, to be inventive, and to live productively. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1470)

3-0 out of 5 stars Read but with a giant grain of salt on hand.
This used to be my favourite book of all time.

Until I sat back and really THOUGHT about it. Then I started to smell something fishy. I began to notice that whenever people read this book for the first time and loved it, myself included, they spend the next few months acting like self important [...].

A strong sense of self is important but we actually do have to share this planet with millions of people of all sorts - if we all walked around with Ayn Rand size bloated egos there wouldn't be enough room for us all.

Imagine if we all applied the "every genius for himself" (as another reviewer here put i) philosophy to life... Well, surely I'm not to only one here to notice that even the biggest morons to set foot on the planet tend to believe themselves to be absolute genius.

Enough almost incoherent babbling. By all means, read this book and love a lot of what is being said but take it all with a giant grain of salt. Seriously, a grain of salt as big as your head. A grain of salt as big as Ayn Rand's ego.

5-0 out of 5 stars Atlas Shrugged
Book was in exact condition buyer said it would be and was shipped fast and a great price - thanks!

4-0 out of 5 stars slightly over-rated
I approached this book nervously, as i have watched many people be effected by it in questionable ways, and also have heard it quoted in contexts that i now believe to be not entirely...valid.
Ayn Rand saw things in black and white, which is i suppose necessary if one wants to state things didactically. That being said, her world is not the real world, not the way things are. Unfortunately life isnt black and white, and the self made man doesnt exist in quite the way she leads one to believe, at least not in this day and age. I have heard it said that much of our culture has been influencenced by Any Rand and i suppose i can see that but i believe that if our current corprate and governmental state is partially modeled after her philosophy it has been grossly missused. She was not a fan of the man who makes his money by being born into a wealthy family, gains his power by being the progeny of a powerful man. That form of familial preferance, not having to work for ones success, or working by bribe and compramise was something she put in the "socialist" catagory.
That little personal rant being out of the way, the story...
Ayn Rands writing is similar to that of a good dime novel.it's fairly addictive, very predictable and packed with ideas, some of which are very interesting. The first 900 or so pages are very hooking. the life force of the world, the business men, the industrialist, the people who make things run, are mysteriously vanishing to a destroyer that nobody can see or find. Mrs. Rands characters are a little two dementional, Dagny Tagart being a very thinly veiled version of i think mrs. rand herself, with most of the male characters of substance in love with her. Mrs. Tagart is highly idealistic, ambitious, and efficiant, also apparently very good in bed. The Hero, John Galt (Mrs. Rands "perfect man") I found to be very arrogant adn obnoxious. Hank Reardon also was less than appealing, although his family was so ourtrageously obnoxious and "socialist" as to be very comical. The Pirate, who's name i'll never be able to spell, and Fransico d'Anconia, the copper tycoon, playboy/aristocrat, are, however, very intruiging. Mrs. Rand gives both of them some very intersting speeches. d'Anconia's speech on the nature of sex i found especially interesting.
i read the reveiw of Atlas Shrugged that said John Galt gives a 50 page speech on the evils of "socialism", and i wanted to correct that, it is, in fact, exactly 60 pages. And i have to agree with that reviewer, that speech is definately overkill. The ending is rather a letdown in my oppinoin. Very anticlimactic and unrealistic, although by the end she has definately made her point. On the whole it's not the best piece of fiction i've read, although it is very interesting philosophy and definatly a classic that demands reading.

1-0 out of 5 stars One star if you want to be brainwashed
Ayn Rand : Atlas Shrugged, the Fountainhead

I agree with other reviewers who say that her characters are robot-like and the plot could easily be missed.It is a lengthy repetition of a philosophy and an attempt to show people how this personally developed philosophy could be lived out in an atheistic manner.

This is an influential book.I have not read fiction extensively and I read this book at the age of 17.When I read it, I believed that I had found "gold".I am now 40 years older and as I look back on my life, I believe that my own understandings and misunderstandings of this book have led to grievious errors in my life.I believe that it pulled me away from the Christian teachings of my youth.While I was a nominal Christian at that time of my life, I do have a rich Christian heritage that could have been built upon and appreciated, but after reading this book, I ceased to investigate the mysteries of my own faith and concentrated on my own understanding of her philosophy.While I accept responsibility for my own foolishness and mistakes and I do agree that there are aspects of her philosophy that are important to understand, I believe that in the wrong hands this philosophy is potentially damaging to self and others.It should have a "warning" label attached and maybe this will be an acceptable one to some.

5-0 out of 5 stars It's not a Philosophy book
Please don't let people tell you that you should read it because it's philosophy. that's what I was told and was turned off. I mean, really, who is interested in philosophy? who would read a PHILOSOPHY book for entertainment?
It's not philosophy.
It's fiction.
The best romance book I have ever read. I read it three or four years ago, and am still connected with the characters! I even had dreams about Dagny Taggart. that's how deep into the book you get. you actually FEEL the story!
Ayn Rand is a genius of an author - reading the book, you scream with indignation reading some parts, at some parts you actually jump for joy... my family thought I was nuts when I was in the process of reading it.
Rand is so talented that she was even able to create a "slang" that I sometimes find myself using in my everyday life ("Who is John Galt?")


when you find out that john is a real person, you realize just how talented this autor is... ... Read more

20. Anthem
by Ayn Rand
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2005-04-21)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$11.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000FZDKRK
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