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Ayn Rand Answers: the Best of Her Q & A Paperback – November 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Ayn Rand:
''Ayn Rand is destined to rank in history as the outstanding novelist and most profound philosopher of the twentieth century.'' --New York Daily Mirror --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Ayn Rand's novels include We the Living and Anthem. Upon the publication of The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957) she achieved her spectacular success. Ms. Rand's unique philosophy, Objectivism, has gained a worldwide audience. The fundamentals of her philosophy are put forth in three nonfiction books, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, The Virtue of Selfishness, and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. They're available in Signet editions, as is the magnificent statement of her artistic credo, The Romantic Manifesto.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: NAL; First Thus edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451216652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451216656
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Theodore Keer on October 8, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is certainly fascinating, but do not purchase it believing that you will be reading Ayn Rand's very own words. Over and over again, you will find that Robert Mayhew has "improved" upon Ayn Rand by deleting what he views as potentially embarrassing comments, or by adding his own words when he wishes she had said what, in fact, she hasn't. There are legitimate ways to edit and improve a spoken transcript--by the use of ellipses and bracketed insertions--which allow the reader to judge what is original and what is interpolated. But Mayhew doesn't take advantage of them. Instead, references to such things as smoking (which killed her) or to former colleagues (who were later purged from the Objectivist movement) are routinely consigned to Orwell's Memory Hole. Meanwhile, words which Rand did not say, and which sometimes entirely change the sense of her comments, are added without scruple. The effect is self-serving and dishonest, and cannot be defended as inconsequential, or as done for clarity or economy. What could easily have been a faithful record of a fascinating woman instead becomes a dogmatic tract.

But don't take my word for it. Read the following versions of Rand as she answers why, in her novel ATLAS SHRUGGED, there is no government in Galt's Gulch. The first excerpt is Mayhew's bowdlerized fabrication. (You can verify the text by using Amazon's "Look Inside" feature and searching for the word "gulch" which appears on p 75.) The second is a verbatim transcript of Rand's own much more interesting and controversial statement from the original 1972 Ford Hall Forum speech.



"Galt's Gulch is not a society; it's a private estate. It's owned by one man who carefully selected the people admitted.
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51 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Ash Ryan on November 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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70 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ayn Rand's question-and-answer sessions following her lectures, and following the lectures of Nathaniel Branden, were always a fascinating display of her brilliance. They showed an incredibly powerful mind at work on the spot, instantaneously able to unravel virtual pretzels of mistaken premises, errors of logic, and, not infrequently, one or more forms of dishonesty, and bring everything into the clearest, sharpest light. Watching her do this incredible work, I came to think of her as a kind of avenging angel, routinely righting the intellectual wrongs that were destroying our culture and that almost always went unanswered. She answered them-in spades! I thought of her as taking the questions of intellectual shysters and hanging them with them.

Few things could be more valuable for advancing Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, rescuing contemporary culture from the philosophical poison that is destroying it, and, at the same time, giving a sense to those who never met her of what Ayn Rand was like in person, than making her Q&A sessions available to the public, in the original, spoken form in which they took place and were recorded.

Unfortunately, this was not the approach taken by Prof. Mayhew and Leonard Peikoff, whom Prof. Mayhew credits with having encouraged him to undertake the project. Instead of remaining faithful to the oral nature of the material being presented, they decided to make a book out of it, which it never was and now cannot properly be.

Speaking is not writing. Converting lectures, and still more, spontaneous answers in question periods, into the form of an essay or book requires editing and a process of considerable intellectual refinement. As a result, in order to put her oral material into the form of a book, Prof.
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