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Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal Mass Market Paperback – July 15, 1986

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Editorial Reviews


“One of the most revolutionary and powerful works on capitalism—and on politics—that has ever been published.”—Professor Leonard Peikoff, Barron’s magazine

About the Author

Born February 2, 1905, Ayn Rand published her first novel, We the Living, in 1936. Anthem followed in 1938. It was with the publication of The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957) that she achieved her spectacular success. 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 Virtues of Selfishness, and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. They are all available in Signet editions, as is the magnificent statement of her artistic credo, The Romantic Manifesto.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Reissue edition (July 15, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451147952
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451147950
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (206 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

141 of 156 people found the following review helpful By Gary Deering on January 1, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is a wonderful collection of 26 articles written by Ayn Rand (20 articles total), Nathaniel Branden (2), Alan Greenspan (3) and Robert Hessen (1). The 26 count includes the two articles in the appendix by Ayn Rand: "MAN'S RIGHTS" and "THE NATURE OF GOVERNMENT". I do have one criticism of this book but I will save it until the end here. All 26 articles relate in one way or another to the theme that 100% Laissez-faire Capitalism is the best Political-Economic system for mankind and that this fact is unknown to most people in the World --including most people in the United States. The first 13 articles deal with the THEORY AND HISTORY of Capitalism along with the opening article being true to form Ayn Rand: she defines her terms right away. Here she does it by positing and then answering the question: "WHAT IS CAPITALISM?". The next 12 articles deal with and destroy so many myths about capitalism that it is probably safe to say that anyone who reads this book will find at least 12 of their own myths about capitalism somewhere within the book. The next 11 articles (#14 through #24) deal with the CURRENT STATE of the United States in the mid 1960's and it is amazing how pertinent and informative these articles still are today. For example, for pertinence see article #20, "THE NEW FASCISM: RULE BY CONSENSUS", and for the informative see and discover the correct definition of 'freedom' on the first page of the article titled "CONSERVATISM: AN OBITUARY". There is simply too much good in this book to cover it all in one short review. It is a must read for anyone who is serious about politics and economics.Read more ›
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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ayn Rand is not the only person who authored this books' essays. The works of Nathaniel Branden and Alan Greenspan both are worth the price. These two authors do not emphasize the "moral" aspect of capitalism but its bare bones practicalities. And as such nobody has ever been able to shoot their arguments down, on moral grounds or otherwise.
In one essay, Branden dissects the criticisms of capitalism during the Industrial Revolution. He shows the relationship between the Industrial Revolution and the Population Explosion. More to the point he shows how Capitalism improved peoples' lives--by providing more sustenance for people to live on.
Alan Greenspan's Essay "Gold and Economic Freedom" is a masterpiece frequently quoted elsewhere, but origionates with this book. If you want to know how the Fed kept inflation down throughout Greenspan's reign as Chairman, here's the essence of his philosophy and modus operandi in a few pages. Greenspan also in another essay explains how corrupt monopolies cannot exist--without the help of government.
Rand herself, while sometimes going overboard on the "Morality" side, does make some very valid points in two essays in particular: "The Roots of War", and "Man's Rights." The theme of both is "being generous with other people's fortunes." (If I had the ability to take all of your money, I will show you just how compassionate to the world I can be.)
In "Roots of War" Rand explains that, outside of voluntary charity there are two ways to acquire something: take it, or swap something for it. Conquest or trade. There is no other option. Government is the agent of conquest, capitalism the agent of trade.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Sylvia Bokor on April 13, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ayn Rand's *Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal* is a rare disccussion of the rudiments of capitalism, how it works, what its benefits are, why it is the only moral system. It is the only book I know of that demonstrates the virtues of capitalism and discusses the roots of such virtues: that wealth is the result of producitivity and that productivity is the result of correctly identifying reality by means of a consitent use of reason. The book also refutes the many attacks on capitalism and the many mistaken evaluations of it. Highly recommended.


Sylvia Bokor
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229 of 271 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Sutton on November 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was about to buy this book from, until I read the "Editorial Review." Amazon[.com] put this on my 'reccomedations' page, as I'm a huge Ayn Rand fan - "an advocate of reason, egoism, and capitalism". Sadly, on that page was the first few lines of this review! Thank goodness that I *now* know that this book is a "relic of the past," and an "outlandish piece of propaganda." I think that Mark Pumphrey's assertion that the "author's overconfident sense of her own rightness and persistence at pressing her points with little respect for opposing views can quickly become more than a little annoying" applies more to that editorial review than to this book, a splendid collection of essays by Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden, Robert Hessen, and (the current U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman) Alan Greenspan. This book is more about the moral underpinings of capitalism, the only system in which we are free to choose how to labor, and how to exercise the fruits of that labor; than it is about the economics of capitalism, for which I would reccomend "Free to Choose" by Milton Friedman, or "New Ideas From Dead Economists" by Todd G. Buchholz - both available here.
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