Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right
Worshipped by her fans, denounced by her enemies, and forever shadowed by controversy and scandal, the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand was a powerful thinker whose views on government and markets shaped the conservative movement from its earliest days. Drawing on unprecedented access to Rand's private papers and the original, unedited versions of Rand's journals, Jennifer Burns offers a groundbreaking reassessment of this key cultural figure, examining her life, her ideas, and her impact on conservative political thought. Goddess of the Market follows Rand from her childhood in Russia through her meteoric rise from struggling Hollywood screenwriter to bestselling novelist, including the writing of her wildly successful The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Burns highlights the two facets of Rand's work that make her a perennial draw for those on the right: her promotion of capitalism, and her defense of limited government. Both sprang from her early, bitter experience of life under Communism, and became among the most deeply enduring of her messages, attracting a diverse audience of college students and intellectuals, business people and Republican Party activists, libertarians and conservatives. The book also traces the development of Rand's Objectivist philosophy and her relationship with Nathaniel Branden, her closest intellectual partner, with whom she had an explosive falling out in 1968. This extraordinary book captures the life of the woman who was a tireless champion of capitalism and the freedom of the individual, and whose ideas are still devoured by eager students, debated on blogs, cited by political candidates, and promoted by corporate tycoons.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
It can't be easy trying to write an objective biography of the 'founder' of objectivism, in part because it's like writing an objective biography of Marx: no matter how good it is, not matter how objective, at least half of its readers will hate it, because they take 'objective' to mean 'with no independent judgement, in either direction.' Damned if you damn, damned if you don't damn, damned if you deify. But Burns does a great job. The early chapters are a bit dull, but then I find the opening chapters of every biography dull: they inevitably go into too much detail (because the author spent a lot of time researching these microfacts that nobody cares about, and reasonably enough wants to put them to *some* use), but once Rand gets to Hollywood things really pick up. Burns shows how Rand's ideas developed, debunks some of the myths, does a fantastic job showing how she was mixed up in the resurgence of 'American' conservatism in the post-war U.S., and deals sensitively with the idiocies of Rand's later, messianic phase. As a special pleasure, she regularly pulls out gems like this: an editor "advised Rand to prune all unnecessary adjectives, a change that would have gutted the novel. Rand did, however, find some of her suggestions useful." This is simple, objective reporting--the editor suggested the superfluous adjectives be removed, Rand thought that would gut the novel. But the irony is delicious. These moments are rare, and Burns mostly keeps a straight face, but she picks her spots well.
Review: Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American RightUser Review - Goodreads
Very interesting biography on Rand. I read her novels and absolutely adored them in high school, but it was fascinating to read about her as a person. It also made me want to go back and re-read and ...