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The Passion of Ayn Rand Paperback – August 18, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 442 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; New edition edition (August 18, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038524388X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385243889
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #707,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Whether or not one subscribes to Rand's right-wing philosophy, this book is likely to make a lasting impression. Branden, a close friend of Rand in the 1950s and 1960s, offers us an intimate portrait, using printed sources, memories, and interviews as she eases back and forth between Rand's professional and private selves. Though occasionally marred by purple prose and the exuberance of a faithful disciple, this book nevertheless achieves a rare balance between engaged reminiscence and critical appraisal of this important conservative thinker. Michael Edmonds, State Historical Soc. of Wisconsin Lib., Madison
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

This bestselling biography of one of the 20th century's most remarkable and controversial writers is now available in paperback. Author Barbara Branden, who knew Rand for nineteen years, provides a matchless portrait of this fiercely private and complex woman.

Customer Reviews

All praise to Barbara Branden for this book.
Raymond C. Sollars
Ms. Rand was a great woman that gave to this world amazing works of fiction, and a philosophy which has already significantly impacted our culture.
M. Lange
It's therefore evident that whether or not you already know Ayn Rand, this is a book well worth reading.
J. Reynolds

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Raymond C. Sollars on February 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
If you wish to continue hero worship or hatred of Ayn Rand, don't read this book. If you want a balanced view of this great Philosopher and Writer, it is a must read. I made an important decision after reading this book. I took my copies of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" and donated them to a local library. It gave me closure. It is a happy ending to the story that psychologist Nathaniel Branden was to go on professionally and evolve beyond Objectivism. He puts out an excellent tape called "The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand." All praise to Barbara Branden for this book. Highly recommend reading Nathaniel Branden's "The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem," his opus. Enjoy hearing the good parts of Objectivism combined with an understanding of human emotion in that book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Neil Parille on July 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
Barbara Branden was associated with Ayn Rand from 1950 until 1968, when she and her husband had their tragic split with Rand. In 1986, she published this biography of Rand. In light of the split between the Brandens and Rand, I don't think anyone would claim that this is the "last word" on Rand. Yet it is a well researched biography based on approximately 200 interviews of people who knew Rand at various times in her life. Branden also interviewed Rand extensively before their split.

Unfortunately, Branden didn't have access to Rand's papers, nor was she able to interview some of those who knew Rand best from the time of the split until Rand's death in 1982.

For reasons I've discussed on the web, I don't think James Valliant and others have undercut the description of Rand presented here.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. Lange on February 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am currently a law student who has an undergraduate degree in philosophy. I have spent much of my adult life studying Objectivism and integrating many of its principles into my life. I am not an "Objectivist," but I do consider myself a student of the philosophy.

This book is not a fanatical denouncement of Rand, as some of the reviewers giving it a 1 star have claimed. Those that have read this book and have calmly reflected upon it, have absolutely no valid justification in giving it a 1. The author points out her own experiences with Ms. Rand, and gives her own interpretation as to Ms. Rand's psychology. The overall feeling of the book towards Ms. Rand is one of honest admiration, sincere fondness, and regretful sorrow. The theme throughout the book is that Ms. Rand struggled, achieved profound success, and experienced deep tragedy.

Persons giving this book a 5 star rating, then going on to attack Ms. Rand's philosophy are despicably dishonest. The author's treatment of Objectivism is very positive. The only objections she has towards the philosophy are some of its applications to psychology (regarding free will and the origin of emotions). The author only really denounces the minority of individuals in the Objectivist movement that lack independence. If you want to understand Objectivism, read and think for yourself. But do not understand it through this biography, or the weak context-dropping reviews on this site. I suggest starting with some of the fiction if you aren't familiar with philosophy or the non-fiction if you are (either way, read the fiction eventually!
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent, literary, balanced biography.
Barbara Branden gives the reader a detailed look at the real life behind the romantic fiction of Ayn Rand, beginning with Rand's youth in Russia and her struggles as an immigrant to the US in the 1920's.
Branden lauds the virtue, insight, and intellect of this powerful novelist while also providing an "insider's perspective" into Rand's personal life and illuminating its triumphs and tragedies.
Anyone interested in Rand's works,whether a proponent or opponent of her philosophy, will find this biography a fascinating must-read.
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A curious reader on September 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
The memoirs/biographies of Barbara and Nathaniel Branden are musts for anyone seriously interested in Ayn Rand and her work. This is my "two-fer" review of both books, which should be read together.

The young Brandens' encounter with Rand was the most important experience of their lives. Her force of personality and formidable intellectual powers pulled them into a strange menage-a-quatre with Rand and her husband, Frank O'Connor, even as the Brandens launched the Objectivist movement. Both of them came away simultaneously transformed by Objectivism and personally disillusioned with Rand. The Branden-Rand break caused Rand great pain (disguised as moral indignation) and led to the almost-total isolation of her final years. The picture that emerges from both books is that of a woman caught in a self-created storybook world, eager for the companionship of equals, obsessed with control, unwilling to meet the world except on nearly impossible terms, trying to break out of her emotional-sexual prison -- then rejected by the smart and ambitious man twenty-five years her junior who had made her the center of an explosive and influential movement but who also discovered his need to lead his own life and make his own mark.

Barbara Branden's book is mostly biography and marked the first step towards an objective judgment of Rand. The Passion of Ayn Rand is detached and wistful, while Judgment Day is an aggressive, sometimes painfully honest, memoir. Nathaniel Branden was still wrestling with himself when he wrote it. He recounts with pride how he emerged, wounded but intact, from his break with Rand and how his experience as both guru and victim of a cult-like movement affected his later work in psychology. On the other hand, The Passion of Ayn Rand projects no sense of struggle.
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