Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right

Synopsis

Worshipped by her fans, denounced by her enemies, and forever shadowed by controversy and scandal, the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand was a powerful thinker whose views on government and markets shaped the conservative movement from its earliest days. Drawing on unprecedented access to Rand's private papers and the original, unedited versions of Rand's journals, Jennifer Burns offers a groundbreaking reassessment of this key cultural figure, examining her life, her ideas, and her impact on conservative political thought.

Goddess of the Marketfollows Rand from her childhood in Russia through her meteoric rise from struggling Hollywood screenwriter to bestselling novelist, including the writing of her wildly successful The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Burns highlights the two facets of Rand's work that make her a perennial draw for those on the right: her promotion of capitalism, and her defense of limited government. Both sprang from her early, bitter experience of life under Communism, and became among the most deeply enduring of her messages, attracting a diverse audience of college students and intellectuals, business people and Republican Party activists, libertarians and conservatives. The book also traces the development of Rand's Objectivist philosophy and her relationship with Nathaniel Branden, her closest intellectual partner, with whom she had an explosive falling out in 1968.

One of the Denver Post's Great Reads of 2009

One of Bloomberg News's Top Nonfiction Books of 2009

"Excellent."
--Time magazine

"A terrific book--a serious consideration of Rand's ideas, and her role in the conservative movement of the past three quarters of a century."
--The American Thinker

"A wonderful book: beautifully written, completely balanced, extensively researched. The match between author and subject is so perfect that one might believe that the author was chosen by the gods to write this book. She has sympathy and affection for her subject but treats her as a human being, with no attempt to cover up the foibles."
--Mises Economics Blog

Excerpt

$her eyes were what everyone noticed first. Dark and widely set, they dominated her plain, square face. Her “glare would wilt a cactus,” declared Newsweek magazine, but to Ayn Rand’s admirers, her eyes projected clairvoyance, insight, profundity. “When she looked into my eyes, she looked into my soul, and I felt she saw me,” remembered one acquaintance. Readers of her books had the same feeling. Rand’s words could penetrate to the core, stirring secret selves and masked dreams. a graduate student in psychology told her, “Your novels have had a profound influence on my life. It was like being reborn…. What was really amazing is that I don’t remember ever having read a book from cover to cover. Now, I’m just the opposite. I’m always reading. I can’t seem to get enough knowledge.” Sometimes Rand provoked an adverse reaction. the libertarian theorist Roy Childs was so disturbed by The Fountainhead’s atheism that he burned the book after finishing it. Childs soon reconsidered and became a serious student and vigorous critic of Rand. Her works launched him, as they did so many others, on an intellectual journey that lasted a lifetime.

Although Rand celebrated the life of the mind, her harshest critics were intellectuals, members of the social class into which she placed herself. Rand was a favorite target of prominent writers and critics on both the left and the right, drawing fire from Sidney Hook, Whittaker Chambers, Susan Brownmiller, and William F. Buckley Jr. She gave as good as she got, calling her fellow intellectuals “frightened zombies” and “witch doctors.” Ideas were the only thing that truly mattered, she believed, both in a person’s life and in the course of history. “What are your premises?” was her favorite opening question when she met someone new.

Today, more than twenty years after her death, Rand remains shrouded in both controversy and myth. the sales of her books are . . .

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