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Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul Hardcover – February 28, 2012

3.3 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Meticulously eye-opening... A scrupulous and sobering investigation, vital for our times." --Kirkus Reviews

"[A] riveting and disturbing inquiry into Ayn Rand's widespread influence on Amerocan economics and politics." --Publishers Weekly

"A lucid, thoroughly, and utterly terrifying investigation into the movement that is destroying America, bit by bit, in accordance with the vision of a woman who believed in nothing and no one except herself."--Daily Kos

"Unlike most books on Rand, which tend toward the hagiographic, this one takes a reality-based look at the consequences of her ideas. Weiss lands a few deserved punches in this quick, magazine article-like read."--Library Journal

"Thought provoking and more than a little ominous."--Booklist

“Gary Weiss brings his skeptical bent and sharp writing to a character who has inspired both fanatical belief and deep derision for decades: Ayn Rand. The book is a compelling journey of discovery about a woman who continues to exert a powerful hold over our society. Weiss shows how Rand is ultimately quite a bit more complicated than either her fans or her detractors would have it.”—Bethany McLean, New York Times bestselling author of The Smartest Guys in the Room and All the Devils Are Here

Ayn Rand Nation is a fascinating exploration of one of the fastest-growing and most powerful coalitions in American politics. With an unerring eye for detail, Gary Weiss embarks on a journey of discovery that examines the emerging influence of the Tea Party and other political groups that proclaim themselves to be Rand’s intellectual progeny. Weiss explores this phenomenon with the evenhanded and objective techniques of a sociologist. If you want to understand the men and women whose vehement voices are reshaping American government, you must read this book.”—Kurt Eichenwald, New York Times bestselling author of The Informant and Conspiracy of Fools

“The timing of this book couldn’t be better for Americans who are trying to understand where in the hell the far-out right’s anti-worker, anti-egalitarian extremism is coming from. Ayn Rand Nation introduces us to the godmother of such Tea Party craziness as destroying Social Security and eliminating Wall Street regulation. Weiss writes with perception and wit.”—Jim Hightower, New York Times bestselling author of Thieves in High Places

“Think Ayn Rand is marginal? Think again! Gary Weiss’s powerful new history inscribes the libertarian firebrand at the very center of the American story of the past three decades.”—David Frum, New York Times bestselling author of The Right Man and Comeback

About the Author

Gary Weiss is a journalist and the author of two books probing the underside of finance, Wall Street Versus America and Born to Steal. He was an award-winning investigative reporter for BusinessWeek, and his articles have appeared in Condé Nast Portfolio, Parade magazine, Salon, and The New York Times, among other publications. He lives in New York City.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312590733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312590734
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #264,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gary Weiss has uncovered financial wrongdoing for almost a quarter of a century.

AYN RAND NATION (St. Martin's Press: Feb. 28, 2012), his third book, began as an exploration of the roots of the 2008 financial crisis. It soon became apparent that Ayn Rand's teachings were a decisive influence, and that her philosophy has come to pervade the national dialogue over the role of government, deficits, and "entitlements" such as Social Security and Medicare. Her teachings have been adopted in large measure by all of the Republican presidential candidates, have a strong influence on the libertarian movement and Tea Party, and pose a challenge to moderates and conservatives as well as the left.

It is a hidden battle for the soul of America - and Rand is winning.

Weiss was for years an investigative reporter at BusinessWeek magazine, where his award-winning cover story, "The Mob on Wall Street," exposed mob infiltration of the market for small-cap stocks. The article won praise from Louis Freeh, director of the FBI, for paving the way for federal prosecution of mob crimes in the stock market. He uncovered the Salomon Brothers bond-trading scandal, and authored some of the earliest coverage on the dangers posed by hedge funds, Internet fraud and out-of-control leverage.

He was a contributing editor at Conde Nast Porfolio, writing about the people most intimately involved in the financial crisis, from Timothy Geithner to Bernard Madoff. He also writes a regular column for TheStreet.com and is a freelance contributor to many periodicals.

His first book BORN to STEAL (Warner Books: 2003), described the Mafia's takeover of brokerage houses in the 1990s. WALL STREET VERSUS AMERICA (Portfolio: 2006) was a detailed account of investor rip-offs.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", the two are being tracked by a posse and Paul Newman asks Robert Redford: "Who are these guys?" The answer: a very formidable group whom they had fatally underestimated. Gary Weiss asks the same question about readers of Ayn Rand - and comes up with the same answer that is given in the movie.

Nearly 55 years after it first appeared, more than a half million new copies of Atlas Shrugged are being printed every year. A lot of these are freebies from the Ayn Rand Institute, but hundreds of thousands of them are not. Weiss asks the question: who are the men and women who are enthusiastic about Ayn Rand? And why?

Weiss seeks an answer by interviewing or writing about a very broad cross-section of Ayn Rand's admirers. He spoke to both Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute and David Kelley of the Atlas Society (given their mutual enmity, that's quite an achievement in itself). He also spoke to old guard Objectivists from the '50's and '60's, including well known figures like Nathaniel and Barbara Branden. Given Weiss's book on the 2008 economic meltdown, it is not surprising that he also gives considerable and highly critical attention to Alan Greenspan. Alan Greenspan's 50 year commitment to Rand's moral and economic precepts is by no means as well known as it should be; nor is it well known that Ayn Rand encouraged him to move into a position of power in government.

We also have a profile in Chapter 2 of Iris Belle, a lesser known figure from the 1960's. This chapter is required reading for anyone who follows the controversies surrounding the picture of Ayn Rand that emerges from the best known biographies.
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Weiss gives a fair hearing to the objectivists he takes the time to know, helping readers understand why rational people might remain devoted to such a harsh philosophy.
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Format: Hardcover
Ayn Rand has experienced a renewal of public interest lately. Members of the Ayn Rand Institute appear regularly on news shows (generally of the conservative variety); Atlas Shrugged has been made into a movie; and there have been several recent books (interestingly, all by people with limited sympathies for Rand and objectivism).

From the time it came out, I was immensely curious about Gary Weiss's book. I am probably a bit more sympathetic than Weiss is to Rand and objectivism (which I find absurd to capitalize). I can assure readers that those hoping for a glowing portrayal of Rand and objectivism will be disappointed... but then again, so will readers hoping for either a fair portrayal, a portrayal without constant low blows and ad hominem "arguments," and those hoping for any real argument at all. Weiss is a journalist and his specialty seems to be rhetoric. And honestly, his rhetoric is quite good much of the time, but it is rhetoric nonetheless.

I think the concept of this book is VERY interesting; what happens when a non-objectivist wants to find out what objectivism is all about, why Rand is enjoying such a surge in popularity, and what the big deal seems to be. Toward that end, Weiss devotes different chapters to interviews with different people with connections to Rand and objectivism: from the big whigs like Yaron Brook, David Kelley, Nathaniel Branden, etc, to casual folk who are tea party members inspired by Rand. (The last chapter, interestingly, interviews Oliver Stone, who in a very bizarre pairing, was once working on a film remake of The Fountainhead, much to the Rand Institute's dismay.
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Format: Hardcover
Weiss reports from the perspective of an investigative reporter on the critical problem of how those who advocate repressive social policies have been able to seize control of our political language. Whereas others see the discredited economic theories of Hayek and Friedman at the core of our economic woes, Weiss shows the bête noir of Rand's specious fictions and how they have captured the imaginations of so many. He suggests that Rand's dogmas have become so prevalent that even Paul Ryan is a self-identified advocate of Rand's arguments against society, the very bedrock of civilization. He hints that Ryan's budgeting fiascos are nothing more than the anti-social imaginings of Randian fiction.

Weiss constructs this review of Randian fantasy by interviewing so called Objectivists, tea partiers, Randian enthusiasts, members of Randian societies, and politicians who have been seduced by Randian fictions or are controlled by the tea parties. They're good interviews, they're interesting, and they reveal a great deal about those who try to create a philosophy from Rand's specious writings and about the writings themselves. It's a very interesting book and Weiss is fair to the people and to the dogma; however, Weiss states unequivocally that we must restore society and the individual's role in society to the center of our political policies and regain control of the political discussion. Weiss believes we can only do so by showing the dark center of Rand's fictions and its appeal to the common man; he has achieved that goal in this work.
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