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The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens Hardcover – May 1, 2005


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Hardcover, May 1, 2005
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Durban House (May 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930754671
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930754676
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,052,640 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book is going to be the Objectivist sensation of the year." -- Autonomist

"This is a vital work, perhaps a bible, for the serious students and supporters of Ayn Rand." -- Robert Middlemiss, editor-in-chief Durban House Publishing

From the Publisher

YOU HAVE A SIMILIAR TITLE WITH ALL THE WORDS LISTED FROM THE LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW: THE PASSION OF AYN RAND BY BARBARA BRANDEN... AS THE PUBLISHER WE SIMPLY ASK FOR THE SAME COURTESY FOR THE BOOK, THE PASSION OF AYN RAND'S CRITICS, WHEN IT COMES TO A KIRKUS REVIEW... In the "heroic-capitalist" novelist’s centenary year, prosecuting attorney Valliant skillfully cross-examines two previous biographers’ accounts of her tumultuous love affair with a younger man.

The affair itself is notorious: In the middle of the 1950’s, having first obtained the blessing of their respective spouses, brilliant, best-selling Rand, then 50, began a sexual relationship with her 25-year-old protégé, Nathaniel Branden, who became her public spokesman. Fourteen years later, the affair blew up after Rand learned of a longstanding extra-extramarital liaison between Branden and one of his female students. He later became a psychologist and author of popular books on self-esteem, but he still had a score to settle with Rand. His memoir-cum-biography, My Years with Ayn Rand (1989), portrayed her as an especially ruthless, hysterical version of the woman scorned, and former wife Barbara Branden did much the same in The Passion of Ayn Rand (1986). Valliant disputes this view, bringing to bear a persuasively close reading of internal contradictions and implausibilities in the Brandens’ books and subsequent statements. The author also makes use of previously unpublished personal journals kept by Rand in 1967-68, when her vast Objectivist following split into camps and drifted away over the rupture between the philosopher-queen and her "intellectual heir". Valliant appears to be a member of the still-very-active pro-Rand camp, but if the excerpts and editing of these journals can be trusted, they show the Brandens in a harsher light and offer a new glimpse of Rand as a remarkably patient, even "objective" expositor of facts that must have pained her.

Far too arcane and cumbersome to enthrall most fans of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, but deserves a place on the lengthening shelf of books about the influential Rand’s accomplishments and character.

Customer Reviews

Thank you Mr. Valliant.
Billy Jacobs
The result is that this is not a scholarly work that objectively examines the evidence and draws negative conclusions about the Brandens' accounts.
Rich Yampell
A must read for those who have read either of Brandens' books on Ayn Rand.
X. Li

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Gerald M. Biggers on July 10, 2006
Apparently written by an uncritical devotee of Ayn Rand (or, more correctly, of the Ayn Rand Institute) intent upon "clearing" her of any allegation of personal misconduct in her rather bizarre affair that she had with her "intellectual heir," Nathaniel Branden, the author is faced with a dilemma that he cannot resolve- How is it that the world's greatest philosopher and proponent of rationality - and a novelist with heretofore unknown and penetrating insights into human conduct - could be so naive and taken-in by the deceit of her lover?

To attempt this feat, the author must make Rand also appear as not only naive, but also completely innocent, with no personal responsibility for her own actions and the effect that her conduct had upon those that she cared for (including her husband). This requires a lot of intellectual acrobatics, revisions, and omissions of inconvenient facts and details. I would advise readers to also read both books by Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden, and then draw their own conclusions.

An author's ideas and contributions to philosophy and literature should be judged on their own merit, not by whether his/her personal life was 100% consistant with their every view advocated. However, the author of this book and his allies at ARI apparently cannot handle the possibility that Rand was not a perfect exemplar in her private life of her publically-expressed views. Consequently, in an attempt to make her look the innocent victim, they end up with making her look very naive of human conduct, totally lacking in any insight into her own behavior, and by implication, rather dull and stupid.

But Ayn Rand was definately NOT dull and stupid. What she was, however, is HUMAN. And that means not omniscient and not incapable of error.
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142 of 212 people found the following review helpful By Michael Limber on May 15, 2005
Kudos to Mr. Valliant. His new book The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics has made me proud to call myself an Objectivist once more. This thoroughly researched and readable book reveals the scope of the premeditated and self-serving dishonesty of Nathaniel (and Barbara) Branden against the person and character of Ayn Rand. These lies (made while she was alive and especially after her death) smeared the reputation of Ayn Rand to the point that a mere mention of her name or ideas in certain quarters is met with a chorus of ad hominem attacks.

The book thoroughly exposes the Branden's and their motives, finally laying to rest all of the urban myths surrounding these private affairs, assisted by portions of the unpublished journals of Ayn Rand herself. I care little for the private lives of philosophers, but these matters have become an impediment to the serious discussion of Ayn Rand's ideas. Valliant's deft dispatch of the Branden's should clear the path for more rational consideration.

More interesting, the book reveals the amazing focus and moral clarity of Ayn Rand; remarkable given the painful personal nature of the context. Few who are familiar with the consistency and systematic nature of her values will be surprised that she was able to discover, despite the evasions and misdirection of her psychotherapist business-partner/lover, the true nature of Nathaniel Branden. But her ability for rational introspection during difficult emotional circumstances, while still feeling the emotions, is truly inspiring.

One the greatest contributions and innovations of Ayn Rand is her integration of the fields of Ethics and Metaphysics -morality based on reality, with `life' as the objective standard of value for human beings.
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140 of 211 people found the following review helpful By Dennis C. Hardin on June 29, 2005
No matter how much effort Objectivism's official spokesmen invest in philosophical clarity and precision, their blind worship of the philosophy's progenitor will prompt outsiders to confuse evaluations of her with evaluations of her ideas. Their attempts to whitewash any and all blemishes have the opposite effect of what the spokesmen intend: outsiders see it as a lack of intellectual honesty on the part of the philosophy's advocates-and begin to wonder if this does not cast doubt on the truth of the ideas.

This would be true for any intellectual movement, but the impact is compounded for Objectivism. Because its foundation rests on respect for the facts of reality, the whitewash gives newcomers good basis to dismiss the entire philosophy as phony without further study.

When chief Objectivist spokesman Leonard Peikoff opened the Ayn Rand archives to the author of this masterpiece of convoluted, mind-numbing pseudo-analysis, he may well have set the Objectivist movement back 37 years, deflecting attention away from the crystal clarity of Rand's ideas and back on the self-defeating schism that has enabled him to rule with virtual papal infallibility over the Objectivist `establishment' since Ayn Rand's death in 1982.

Good move for Dr. Peikoff. Bad move for the future of Objectivism.

Defenders of the book (hereafter PARC) will cite various reasons, their devotion to the memory of Ayn Rand being foremost among them. But no serious reader of the Branden books will put down this volume with any higher level of respect for her. Her admirers know full well that, whatever her faults, she remains the greatest writer and thinker of the 20th Century.
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