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The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens Hardcover – May 1, 2005
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"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" novelists 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 1950s, 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 The author also makes use of previously unpublished personal journals kept by Rand in 1967-68, when her vast Objectivist following split into camps and drifted away over the rupture between the philosopher-queen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 Rands accomplishments and character.
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This really is a must read for any serious student of Objectivism and its history. One weapon Ms. Rand's critics never find in short supply is their ability to take the personal aspects of her life and use them as a means to discredit the entirety of her philosophy. This comes as no surprise, considering their lack of honest intellectual integrity.
One of these personal aspects is her affair with Nathaniel Brandon--during which time she was married to Frank O' Connor. Nathaniel was married to Barbara. Ms. Rand and Mr. Brandon before starting the affair had been completely open with their spouses about it.
The book includes journal entries about her affair with Nathaniel during and after their relationship. Some of these, to my knowledge, have not been made available within any other source other than this book. If all one has to go on in regards to this aspect of her life is the Brandens' account of things--then you are, I can say quite honestly, missing an entire half of the picture...and one which is not flattering to Ms. Rand in the slightest.
Her journal entries regarding this affair, as with everything else which came from her active mind, shows itself to be incredibly perceptive, rational, and at times much more generous towards Nathaniel than probably most anyone else without as active a mind would have allowed. She was not, as other commentators on here have noted, blind to what Nathaniel was doing. No one could read her journal entries presented in Mr. Valliant's book and then go on to make that assertion.
To those whose view of romantic love is tainted by traditionalist views--the book may not make much sense and will be hard to grasp. Anyone familiar with how Objectivism views emotions, romantic love specifically in this case, will discover that Ms. Rand not only understood those values intellectually but successfully practiced them within her own relationships.
The picture has long been painted, with the help of the Brandens mostly, that Ms. Rand was, during the break-up cold, vicious and vengeful. Nothing could be further from the truth. What a terrific job the author has done in bringing this much talked about part of Ms. Rand's life into the open.
And finally (FINALLY!) someone steps forward and (to put it mildly) tears their whole ridiculous case to ribbons. Top to bottom.
James Valliant has done a temendous job in countering, point for point, every negative assertion made by the Brandens, and not only in their books but in their articles and recorded interviews as well. And how wonderful it is to finally read Ayn Rand's side of it, through her until now unpublished journals -- which carry all the more weight in that they were her PRIVATE journals, written even as it was all happening, and never intended for any eyes but her own.
Valliant's case against Nathaniel and Barbara Branden is solid in and an of itself. Ayn Rand's journals seal the case. Resoundingly. Emphatically. Powerfully.
Anyone with a clear mind and a clear heart, wondering about the character of Ayn Rand, need only read her novels. Who she was (and who she must be, to have created such heroic works of literature) comes through so clearly, the Branden biographies can be dismissed out of hand.
But for anyone who has read the Brandens works, and for anyone who would like to see a true portrait of Ayn Rand rather than bother with the Brandens' lies and deceipts, The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics is an invaluable resource.
Finally someone has proven -- with cutting precision -- what so many of us have known all along.
Read this book. Buy it. Then share it. The first half constitutes Valliant's case against the Brandens. The second half consists of Ayn Rand's private journals. Both make for fascinating and engaging reading. Word of this book needs to spread, and fast. It's time things were set right.
This marks an end to Nathaniel Branden.
And all I can say is, about time.
It is somewhat interesting to read the included sections of Ayn Rand's personal journals, but only if you don't have any stake in believing that she was a hero, or that her "philosophy for living" is practical or workable in the real world.