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Judgment Day: My Years with Ayn Rand Hardcover – January 1, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Branden's long, tedious account of his 18-year relationship with Ayn Rand is weighted with self-dramatization. The domineering author of The Fountainhead was 25 years his senior when they met in 1950; both were married yet carried on an affair. Branden writes that in 1968, when Rand discovered he was having an affair with Patrecia Gullison, an actress-model who became his second wife, Rand violently severed their relationship and excommunicated him from the inner circle of the Objectivist movement, of which Branden had been a chief disciple. After Patrecia drowned in 1977, Branden's third wife, Devers, formed a friendship with Rand, who still refused to speak to Branden. As he set tles scores with colleagues here and tests his theory of the psychology of romantic love, he also tests the reader's patience; nevertheless, Rand devotees will likely relish the steamy details of her personal life. Photos.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.


...the book provides valuable insights into the life of a great thinker and her followers, warns of the dangers of cultism, points out the positive aspects and hazards of Rand's philosophy, and provides an introduction to Mr. Branden's own significant work on the psychology of self-esteem. Not bad for a story that is often as gripping as, well, an Ayn Rand novel. -- Judge Alex Kozinski, Wall Street Journal

An intensely personal story of the making of a powerful intellectual movement that helped shape the policy changes now rocking the world. the story will appall some, anguish others, and intrigue and excite everyone. -- Martin Anderson, The Hoover Institute

Branden faced up to the issues with really admirable courage and frankness....A quite extraordinary book. -- Colin Wilson, Author of The Outsider

Branden's riveting book has love, philosophy and unparalleled investigative memoir about people who have shaped our world view. -- Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, USC, and author of Why Leaders Can't Lead

It struck me as non-stop theatre. All the ingredients are there: conflict, colorful characters, suspense, and a Greek inevitability of tragedy born of hubris. There are scenes that collect energy and explode just this side of melodrama. There's a nexus of sex nearly dizzying in its permutations-and a confrontation climax to delight the heart of any dramatist. Judgment Day is a novel, a drama, a memoir; and most of all, one suspects, an act of catharsis demanding great courage of its author. -- Dale Wasserman, Playwright and sreenwriter Man of La Mancha, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Judgment Day is the story of an intensely passionate man who loves four very different women, the universe of ideas, and the infinite possibilities of life. Truly stimulating whether or not you care about Ayn Rand, Objectivism or Nathaniel Branden. And if you do care-an incredible feast. -- Jeremy P. Tarcher, President, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc.

Utterly compelling -- Robin Mather, Detroit News

What a story! It's heroic, romantic, deadly, horrifyng, tender-and I couldn't put it down. -- George Leonard, former Look editor, a founder of the Esalen Institute, and author of Walking on the Edge of the World

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1st edition (June 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395461073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395461075
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,138,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nathaniel Branden, Ph.D. is a lecturer, a practicing psychotherapist, and the author of twenty books on the psychology of self-esteem, romantic love, and the life and thought of Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand. His work has been translated into eighteen languages and has sold more than 4 million copies, and includes such titles as Taking Responsibility, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, and My Years with Ayn Rand. Branden's name has become synonymous with the psychology of self-esteem, a field he pioneered more than thirty years ago.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book gives keen insight into the minds of two people who have influenced many through their writings, philosophical and otherwise. As the author reveals in extreme detail, their relationship was an extremely intense one, and this is not surprising given the capacity and power of their intellects. Their eventual separation was bitter, and even before this book came out, in fact long before, those who are familiar with their early writings could sense that something very bad had happened between them. Their break however did not affect their productivity and in spite of the pain they no doubt felt after it, both of them still exhibited a brilliance that is still being felt today through their writings.
Some who read the book may say that it is the age difference between Rand and Branden that exacerbated their problems. This no doubt played a factor, and the author acknowledges this also, but as the book reveals, there were other things that aggravated such a relationship between two intellectual powerhouses as these are (were). Rand would like to say that it is the rational intellect that serves as the glue for a lasting and true relationship. Her limited definition of rationality though results in a narrow bandwidth that limits any alternative notions of love and friendship from getting through to her. The aesthetic quality of two people can play a large role in their attraction, and this should cause no surprise if one thinks of it in the context of human evolution. In addition, two people can be quite at odds philosophically and still have a satisfying relationship, a notion though that Rand would not be able to entertain.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Rush on June 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
How did Ayn Rand affect your life? Are you infatuated with her infallible logic, or are you repulsed by her cold-hearted nature? Did her novels inspire you to greatness, or did they make you retch? Have you embraced her philosophy, or have you sworn to destroy it? Was she someone you wanted to emulate, or was she someone you wanted to kill?

Whether or not you agreed with her, Ayn Rand was a woman who provoked extreme reactions. And no matter how much she affected your life, she had far more impact on the life of Nathaniel Branden.

Earlier, I tried to read a couple of Branden's other works, but couldn't wade through all the Objectivist head-shrinker jargon. He wrote like someone who spent too much of his life in college.

However, Judgment Day is surprisingly readable. Though he's sometimes a bit wordy, Branden uses plain English for a change. Most of his psychologizing is kept down to a paragraph or less at a time, and these explanations are generally helpful.

Branden writes from personal experience, and usually goes into detail. He concentrates mostly on the 18-year association with Ayn Rand that dominated his life, as she progressively became his mentor, friend, lover, and business partner. While he still defends her philosophy, he also provides a full account of her erratic personality.

Rand could patiently discuss all sorts of worldly topics, but would lose her temper at the most trivial annoyances. Jammed locks, missing buttons and broken toasters conspired against her. She never learned to drive, and had a hard time mastering any real technology, despite writing extensively about it.

Branden entered Rand's life while she was writing Atlas Shrugged.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Reid Ginoza on August 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Recounting his struggle with romance, Nathaniel Branden takes us from his teenage fascination with "The Fountainhead" to the height of his career with Objectivism and his affair with the woman who started it all, Ayn Rand. Anyone interested in the people who built this movement will be fascinated with this memoir.

The focus of the story is on Branden's marriage with Barbara Branden and his affair with Ayn Rand leading to their eventual break, but the author takes the time to develop the personalities (including his own) that led to this unique, dramatic situation.

With the dispositions involved, Branden skillfully unravels the events in a telling worthy of a novel filled with hope, success, and disappointment. In addition, we see Branden balance his professional challenges with psychology, the Collective (a group of Ayn Rand's closest friends), and the Objectivist movement at large.

This could have been an angry rant against Ayn Rand, but instead an honest and introspective Branden narrates the story. He admits the mistakes he made and shares blame in the part he plays.

There have been other accounts of the story, including a revised version of this memoir entitled My Years with Ayn Rand, but I have not yet read any of these. Certainly I am interested the factuality of Branden's account and will follow up on this, but Branden's sense of drama for these real-life events already makes this book worth reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Naylor on March 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is so many things, including heartbreaking. It's hard to accept that Ayn Rand, a woman of such greatness, and Nathaniel Branden, the man who labored long and hard to spread her radical new philosophy and who loved her in his own special way, suffered so. But the book is much more than that. Its a love story about the birth and growth of a new philosophy, and as such, makes for fascinating reading. While I cannot agree completely with the philosophy of Objectivism, (I question a part of its epistemology) I think it brings many important philosophical ideas to the world of thought. In my opinion, her ideas have, indeed, changed the world for the better - or will some day if given the chance. The book makes for absorbing reading for those interested in ideas and the human struggle behind them that sometimes gives birth to greatness.
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