From Publishers Weekly
Novelist, screenwriter, philosopher and staunch advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) saw communism, Nazism and fascism as kindred evils sprung from the same collectivist mentality. Her atheist philosophy, which she called objectivism and which was reflected in her bestselling novels?The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged?extolled individualism, voluntary cooperation and conscious choice while condemning altruism (living for others) and self-sacrifice as moral fallacies. These themes resound in her outspoken, sometimes strident correspondence, which includes letters to Senator Barry Goldwater, Frank Lloyd Wright, H.L. Mencken, Dashiell Hammett, Cecil B. DeMille and actors Robert Stack and Barbara Stanwyck. Sprinkled with critiques of liberals, leftists and others whom she saw as corrupted by collectivist thinking, the voluminous correspondence reflects Rand's desperate concern for her parents and sisters, trapped under Stalinism in her native Russia (which she left for Hollywood in 1926), and includes her analyses of her novels' plots as well as pessimistic cultural commentary on an America she considered to be in decline. Berliner is executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Novelist-philosopher Rand--the advocate nonpareil of rationalism; of unfettered, unregulated capitalism; of individual rights and responsibilities--wrote her letters as carefully as her books because, she said, of the necessity of guarding her words when writing to relatives in the Soviet Union. Her precise missives always said exactly what she meant, and whether writing to fans, friends, business associates, or strangers, Rand was never at a loss for words. One of the unexpected pleasures of this collection is the copious professional advice she gave beginning writers, yet the heart of the letters as much as of her books is, of course, her political and philosophical views. Imbued with her fiercely held beliefs, the letters most devoted to politics and philosophy fairly blaze off the page. Rand always held to and fluently and lucidly explained the distinction between her philosophy, objectivism, and the various phases of twentieth-century American conservatism. Regardless of one's opinion of her thinking, her letters add greatly to our understanding of a most exceptional woman of letters. Dennis Winters