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My Years with Ayn Rand Paperback – February 26, 1999
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"What a story! It's heroic, romantic, deadly, horrifying, tender-and I couldn't put it down." (George Leonard, author of The Transformation and Education and Education and Ecstasy)
"Relentlessly revealing. . . the myth of Ayn Rand gives way to a full-sized portrait in contrasting colors, appealing and appalling, potent and paradoxical. . . . it takes a special kind of nerve to write such a book." (Norman Cousins, author of Head First and The Healing Heart)
"Non-stop theater. All the ingredients are there: conflict, colorful characters, suspense, and a Greek inevitability of tragedy born of hubris. There's a nexus of sex nearly dizzying in its permutations." (Dale Wasserman, playwright and screenwriter, Man of La Mancha and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
"Branden plots his relationship with Rand from a psychological vantage point, with devastatingly articulate results. . . . A fascinating portrait of Rand and her disciples." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Do you know my greatest reward for 'The Fountainhead?' You." (Ayn Rand to Nathaniel Branden)
Top Customer Reviews
Primarily, the book is altered so that Branden's associates from the period covered by the book are shown in somewhat more positive light. Allan Blumenthal, for instance, is no longer a quite conventional mama's boy; Barbara Branden is less clingy and shows up as a more autonomous individual. Her numerous affairs reported in the first edition are trimmed to a much smaller number.
Surprisingly, Barbara Branden is reported to have developed the concept 'psycho-epistemology', perhaps the key to Rand's aesthetics. This single fact should end any notion that Objectivism is all the ideas that Ayn Rand came up with and nothing else.
Nathaniel Branden is less self-aggrandizing in this edition, and he takes more of the blame for his failed first marriage and the personal disaster for many Objectivists which he helped cause. The portrait of Ayn Rand herself is little changed, which would make us wonder why bother with the second edition until we remember that this is not a biography of Rand but a memoir by Branden.
All in all, the book tells a fascinating story, and tells it rather better and more fairly than the first edition. But the changes, while interesting, are generally not radical and readers of the first edition should bear this in mind before they buy the current version. Those who have not read the first edition should definitely find this book of interest; it tells the very self-conscious story of a man, three women, loves of people, ideas, and their interrelationships, and how a something like a cult is formed and destroyed.
Those familiar with the basic outlines of Nathaniel Branden's eventful life will also know: that he and Ayn Rand met and became friends when he was going on 20 and she was 45; that some years later they began an affair with the consent of their respective spouses; that the dramatic end of their personal and professional relationship in 1968 had explosive effects for the entire Objectivist community.
Branden has previously told the story of his life and relationship with Ayn Rand in the controversial memoir *Judgment Day* (1989). The present memoir is an extensively revised and updated version of the earlier book. Even readers who have read (and reread) *Judgment Day* will be fascinated by the new insights to be gleaned. *My Years with Ayn Rand* is as spellbindingly written as the previous work but it presents a richer, more complete account.
This is a not-to-be-missed by anyone interested in Objectivism -- or simply interested in the engrossing story of some remarkable people.
This biography goes a long way in answering that question. Nathaniel Branden, Rand's first 'intellectual heir', takes us on his journey with this enigmatic figure, Rand. From when they first met- he as a college student, she as the successful author of the Fountainhead- to thier intellectual partership and ultimately thier misguided affair. The most interesting part of the book, I feel, is the cacophonic break between Branden and Rand, forcing Branden to reevaluate his life and principles.
It would've been easy for Branden, now a successful psychologist, to handle this book badly. It could've wound up being a bitter memoir about what some have called a 'cult'. Or, it could've centered on a philosophical diatribe of Randian thought. Fortunately, it does neither. It is written almost as fiction. The players, even those Branden clearly doesn't like, are treated with respect and empathy. He also writes with remarkable honesty- clearly a sign of a man who's given much time to self-reflection. Yes, there are spots where Branden does get down on Rand. Her philosophy is also touched on, in part. None of this, however, is induldged in to a fault.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a really interesting inside look into the cult of Ayn Rand. It will interest anyone who is curious about her life and inner circle.Published 2 months ago by Abby
poor AYN Rand painted as a bitchy victim.He brags as being the John Galt of sexual prowess.I worshiped these two in my late teens.Paul Ryan only likes the economics . Read morePublished 13 months ago by Austin T. Philbin
I thought this was a fascinating book, one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" stories. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Marilyn G. Hill
It's a great book by how revealing it is. mostly by how things are said/slanted or not said. My respect or lack of it for Branden is slightly tempered by the peculiar circumstance... Read morePublished 14 months ago by mitchell a.
I enjoyed reading this tremendously. It gave me a great insight into the psyche of Ayn Rand and that of many of the early objectivists. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Hugh Akston
This is an interesting book to read. Nathaniel Branden mentions that shortly before he reached the age of 20, he met Ayn Rand who was then 45. Read morePublished on July 12, 2014 by Amazon Customer