Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Ayn Rand and the World She Made Paperback – October 19, 2010
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
A Q&A with Anne C. Heller
Question: Many people discover Ayn Rand’s novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as young adults, but you read her novels and essays in your forties. What, at that time, sparked your interest in Rand? What moved you to write her biography?
Anne C. Heller: It's true that I didn’t read Ayn Rand’s popular novels in high school or college. I read them for the first time seven or eight years ago, while I was editing a trial issue of a new financial magazine at Condé Nast Publications. Suze Orman--the personal-finance author, who was contributing an article to the magazine--sent me a copy of the well-known "money speech" from Atlas Shrugged. In the novel, the speech is delivered by a young copper baron to an assembled crowd of liberal bureaucrats and corporate welfare-statists. He argues that money, far from being the root of all evil, as the liberals in the novel pretend to think, is really "the root of all good," and "the barometer of a society’s virtue." The speech surprised me with its passion and seemingly air-tight logic and aroused my curiosity. So I read the books.
At that time, Rand and her work weren’t in the news, as they are now. Once I had finished Atlas Shrugged for the second time, I looked around to see what had been written about her. Later, I learned that the novels were still selling in the hundreds of thousands of copies every year and that she was influential among libertarians and certain conservatives; yet no full-scale, impartial biography of this extraordinary woman had been written. Only former disciples and detractors had published books about her. The time seemed right to take a fresh approach.
Question: Do you think your experience with her work, philosophy, and life was different from those who read her in their adolescence?
Anne C. Heller: Yes. I appreciated Rand’s insights into the nature of power and her spectacular ability to integrate plot, character, and theme more than I might have when younger. And, I was less susceptible to her romantic celebration of heroic achievement.
Question: Ayn Rand and the World She Made is the first objective, investigative biography of Ayn Rand. What new sources did you use for your research? Did you travel for your research?
Anne C. Heller: The only other biography was written in the 1980s by Barbara Branden, who was Rand’s friend and disciple as well as her young lover’s former wife. The book was partly in the form of a memoir and was also based on limited information; for example, Rand was born and educated in Russia, but at that time the Russian archives were closed. Thus Branden had to take Rand’s word for most of the events of her childhood. I used a Russian research team to gather new details of Rand’s family background, her parents’ professional lives, and her schooling up to and throughout her university studies, some of which contradicted what Rand had said about herself. I used published and unpublished letters and hundreds of hours of taped, unpublished interviews to document many episodes in Rand’s life that she never talked about, including influences she buried and help she later denied.
I traveled all over the United States to work in relevant archives and to conduct interviews with her former friends and followers, many now in their eighties and nineties, who spoke surprisingly candidly about her capacity for cruelty as well as her genius and personal magnetism. I had three lengthy interviews with her long-time lover, Nathaniel Branden, now eighty, and spoke with most members of what used to be called the "inner circle" of her cult following. I also had access to interviews with her elderly Russian sister and with close friends from the 1920s and 1930s, all now deceased.
Question: What surprised you most?
Anne C. Heller: I was surprised by many things--by how deeply her hostility to liberal social programs was rooted in her Russian childhood, by her remarkable insight into the psychology of envy and mediocrity, by her personal courage, and by her unfailing ability to spot a flaw in any opposing argument. I was also surprised to discover that many of her former followers, though personally damaged by her temper and her moral absolutism, remembered her as the most important and beneficent person in their lives. They had been wounded by her and yet loved her and were protective of her memory and legend.
Question: Why does Rand remain a bestseller?
Anne C. Heller: She certainly does remain popular. In a 1991 poll, sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, Americans named Atlas Shrugged the book that had most influenced their lives after the Bible. In a separate 1998 poll by Modern Library, readers chose Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead as number one and two on a list of the one hundred greatest novels of the twentieth century, and Rand’s other two novels, Anthem and We the Living, placed seventh and eighth on the list. Combined, more than twelve million copies of her two best-known novels have been sold in the U.S. alone, and sales this year have reached an all-time high.
Like Holden Caulfield and Huckleberry Finn, Rand’s fictional heroes strike each new generation as timelessly American in their self-reliance and revolt against timidity and conformity. And her passionate, brainy arguments on behalf of limited government and unfettered individual rights strike a strong chord, especially in times of economic trouble and increased government activism.
(Photo © Brennan Cavanaugh)--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum was born to Jewish parents in 1905 Russia. Ayn Rand left Russia in 1926 for America and founded her anticollectivist philosophy, Objectivism, a philosophy of free market capitalism and the pursuit of self-interest as a moral good. Depressive, pill-taking, chain-smoking and manipulative, Rand's life was defined by a longtime Sunset Boulevard–like affair with Nathaniel Branden, who went on to start the self-esteem movement. At the same time, the combustible Rand was married to a passive man with matinee-idol looks. Magazine editor and journalist Heller competently describes Rand's feuds with William F. Buckley and with her sister, who had remained in the U.S.S.R., and the more courtly relationship Rand had with publisher Bennett Cerf. This objective account of the Objectivist Rand will interest her still large and devoted readership. Photos. (Nov. 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
Any author would be fortunate to have Ms. Heller write her or his biography, as she presents the good, the bad, and the ugly with truth and fairness, both providing the context with Rand's time and place and drawing connections between Rand's environment and her life's work. I personally cannot imagine how anyone could do a better job of drawing it all together and putting it in perspective.
The more I read Ms. Heller’s book about Rand the more I am struck by two great tragic ironies of her life: though desperately craving to submit to a dominant heroic man, her external demeanor of dominance attracted submissive men, from whom she never escaped; and though her desire to apply heroism to the essentially submissive men she passed her life with was doomed to failure, that she did this showed her desperate needs to love and be loved, to find the human connection she spent her life disparaging and denying. Her life is an outspokenly visible example of reality putting the lie to a stated independence. “I don’t need anyone, and my every emotion is based on/in accordance with reason,” she spent her life proclaiming, but when it came down to it, she needed greatly and acted according to her needs.
Ms. Heller has done the World an amazing service, one I expect to enjoy more and more as I continue reading.
All this said, I am willing to defer to the reviewer offering a correction of his experience with Rand. No one is perfect, and it is possible that Ms. Heller got one thing wrong. But getting one thing wrong does not prevent me from benefiting from the overwhelmingly positive effect of Ms. Heller's research and writing. Perhaps in future editions this one matter will be corrected. In the mean time, I am happy.
Rand was undoubtedly brilliant, but she was also a narcissist (in the clinical sense) and she collected bright young acolytes she could mold and exploit. (If you have any doubt of the cult-like nature of some of Rand's followers, read the negative reviews. As Heller wrote in her book, they're still desperately seeking her approval years after her death).
Although the author is not an Objectivist, Rand's ideas are treated fairly and competently in the book. But this isn't a book of philosophical criticism. It's a life story of a uniquely American, brilliant, complicated, sometimes terrifying woman. I highly recommend it.