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Ok, so here I go I ve been kind of dreading this I m not a fan of Ayn Rand or her philosophy, but she s relevant and this biography is said to be reasonably objective It s hard to be objective about objectivism.By the way, Rand didn t invent the commonsense understanding that reality is what it is despite what we believe or wish and her disciples don t own a monopoly on that idea, assuming they give it than lip service in the first place It s harder to live by that maxim than most people think Also, selfishness doesn t need a philosophy to promote it It s doing fine on its own ok now I ve finished the book.This is a fine biography of a very influential and bizarre human being Maybe it deserves than three stars but, okay I ll admit this, it s about Ayn Rand and I just can t do it The portrait of her presented here is far from a flattering one and I suspect that there are still true believers out there who would refuse to accept some of the disagreeable aspects of it She really comes across as a very unpleasant person despite her remarkable personal magnetism and ability to attract devoted followers who stick to her even after she s excommunicated them When I read the title I assumed it would talk a lot about her influence on the world in general, though a lot has happened in the ten years since this book came out That s what I understood the words the World She Made in the title to mean Aside from a little bit about some of her followers, very little is actually said about that Maybe it referred to the fantasy world she eventually withdrew into, the world of Atlas Shrugged It seems like many of her followers joined her there Maybe that s Objectivist Heaven and she s there still I ve seen some of the videos of her speaking and, in truth, I was repelled in the same way that I am after watching a video of one of Hitler s manic speeches and, no, I m definitely not comparing the two It would be completely unhinged to seriously compare Ayn Rand to that murderous, genocidal monster That having been said, they were both very emotionally volatile personalities with mesmerizing gazes and a similar ability enthrall large crowds of like minded people However, just to emphasize the point, the content of their speeches was very different Rand built her belief system on a kind of rigorous logic which she was very good at communicating Also, she was opposed to violence by the state and when she did lie, as much to herself as anyone else, she lied out of weakness and not because of some manipulative, lethal agenda.Anyway, this biography takes us on a journey We follow her early life in Russia as Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum Watch her family get mangled and her hopes and dreams crushed by the Russian Revolution We watch her make her way to the United States, the land of her dreams and the place where she would be reborn as the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand, writer of really long and preachy books, very much in the Russian tradition Actually, she and Tolstoy had a lot in common except, of course, the compassion thing.For someone who was so in love with logic and reason, she seemed oddly enthralled by her own emotions There s something about the overwrought romantic ideals and the ridiculously larger than life heroes that populate her books that seems to go against everything she ever said about being rational I m sure somewhere in the massive philosophical edifice that she spent years ceaselessly constructing in her head she had an answer for that I suspect she had an answer for everything I don t know if she was truly a genius in the high IQ sense, though I have no doubt her acolytes would insist that she was, I m pretty sure that when you re as driven, obsessed and laser focused as she was, you too would be an unbeatable debater Seriously, how could you win an argument with someone who spent years playing and replaying that very argument in her head and was constitutionally incapable of admitting she was wrong about anything If you are a normal person, you just couldn t It would be fun, if time travel were possible, to take Ayn Rand, at the height of her powers, and stick her in a room with Karl Marx, at the height of his, and watch them go at it That would be one for the ages You could charge admission, which would be the heroically capitalist thing to do.I always had the impression, even before reading this book, that Rand s emotional makeup was such that she couldn t react to anything without overreacting I also had the impression that objectivism was an overreaction to what the Russian Revolution did to her and her family She seemed to be haunted by the specter of communism, seeing collectivists hiding behind every bush It would explain her laser focus as she constructed the vast philosophical scaffolding around herself that would become her refuge, her cage, and her legacy I think she might have been happier if she had never met Nathan Blumenthal a.k.a Nathaniel Branden Perhaps they both would ve been happier if slightly less influential She could ve stayed in California and not ruin her husband s life any than being married to her would do, and she still could ve written Atlas Shrugged and enjoyed all the success and notoriety that it would eventually bring her Given her personality, she might still have ended up as the great philosopher of the free market only without the emotional ringer that her interlocking love triangles with Blumenthal put everyone through Or maybe she just would ve found someone else to have a torrid, dysfunctional romance with Perhaps being wretchedly unhappy was her destiny.One thing I can say about this biography is that it gives you a look at Rand without the reality distortion field that seemed to surround her wherever she went Without that piercing gaze and those carefully constructed, well rehearsed arguments designed to reinforce and support all the emotion driven conclusions that she had come to in advance, you re left with a very peculiar person There was clearly something odd about her from day one She was antisocial yet extremely intelligent She was deeply emotional, yet incapable of feeling empathy for anyone who wasn t exactly like her, which was basically no one She would occasionally meet someone whom she d regard as a soulmate until she would later discover, to her horror, that they were, in some way, different from her She droned on endlessly about being rational yet when you look at the way she lived her life, it all seems anything but rational She couldn t tolerate anyone disagreeing with her about the smallest thing For such a deep thinker, she was oddly shallow in her assessment of people Just looking like a hero or heroine from one of the romantic stories she devoured as a child was often enough to get you in the door Her sex drive seemed to repeatedly override her reason She had some truly bizarre ideas about worshiping heroic men She frequently comes across as a self deluded hypocrite, lying to cover up mistakes which she couldn t admit, even to herself Taken as a whole, despite having accomplished a greater part of her agenda than she ever had the right to hope for, she was a very unhappy, paranoid and frightened person She seemed to be endlessly acquiring friends and admirers running them through the great Randian meat grinder and spitting the remains out the other end Yet they would so often thank her for it and be pleased with all that they had learned I may not benefit from her genius, but I m happy to take my life lessons at a somewhat lower cost.I guess I really don t have the right to discuss my feelings about objectivism in any detail I haven t read Atlas Shrugged and I can t imagine having the stamina to get through that massive doorstop Maybe I could manage The Fountainhead since it s not as long and anyone who s grown up in a free society is naturally drawn to the idea of individual and personal freedom of expression, though I don t really see how any jury could acquit somebody for blowing up other people s property over creative differences That s kind of insane Aren t property rights sacred to objectivists If I were to actually read Rand s books, would that mean I d have to, for the sake of balance, also read Karl Marx s Capital That thing is huge I just don t think I could do it.Other than what I said at the beginning, here s what I do have to say about objectivism Objectivists must have different definitions for the words selfishness and altruism than the ones found in the dictionary Rand must ve been trying to start an argument by insisting on the word selfishness rather than something like enlightened self interest, for example To me, selfish people are just ones who want everything for themselves and refuse to share It would take a lot of explaining to make that heroic, especially since if everyone was like that, we couldn t have a functioning civilization because humans would be extinct I m sure that objectivism contains complex arguments for how selfishness would motivate capitalists to keep civilization going out of self interest, but human stupidity and shortsightedness trumps such reasoning every time That s reality folks By the way, I m not saying people shouldn t have the right to be selfish Of coarse they should, just like they should also have the right to be greedy, cowardly and stupid What about altruism A dictionary definition of that is as follows, The belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well being of others How deranged would you have to be to see that as evil Is kindness and generosity evil I m sure objectivists will insist that they re not the same thing, which is technically true, but they come from the same place within us and are, by their very definition, voluntary Which means if it s forced, altruism stops being altruism In any case, my personal observation is that people who devote their lives to the evil of altruism are among the happiest and most fulfilled people I ve ever seen, while people who devote their lives to selfishness, however you define it, are among the most miserable I m sure someone out there can point to exceptions, but that s just how I see it.Anyway, this is an excellent biography of a very influential and difficult human being I doubt anyone if they accept the basic facts presented, will come away with a very pleasant impression of Ayn Rand as a person What they decide to cherry pick from her ideas, is their own concern. A very good biography of Ayn Rand I have been interested in her ideas for a while and this book certainly provides a good overview of who she was her childhood in Russia, her coming to america and becoming a famous writer The most important question I learned to ask is whether a free society requires an autonomous individual to sustain itself I am not quite sure whether its true or not but I am certain that those who succeed in business are certainly those who make rational decisions I have personally always favored variation in lifestyles and always liked to engage in conversations with unique individuals This view of individualism is perhaps inspired by JS Mill than Rand.Regardless of what one thinks of Rand and the cult she created around herself, she remains a champion of freedom and therefore a source of inspiration To express ones values clearly and to fight for them is a character trait often missing in people today the corresponding values were needed to achieve a life of independence rationality knowing that nothing can alter the facts , productiveness the means by which thought and work sustain life , and pride seeking to earn the right to hold oneself as one s most important value p 319 Another issue I have with Rand is her belief that one can reach the truth by pure reasoning Although using reason as a means of pursuing is valuable, I still find that true science is concerned with finding good explanations which are universally applicable a view which I learned from David Deutsch Trying to understand the world without empirically studying it can lead one to erroneous conclusions as the world is often queerer than we can suppose Having said that I would like to have been part of Rands collective for one day just to see what it was like I have often longed to be part of an intellectual group which pursues truth and which stays up late discussing ideas this was alas not my experience at college I will therefore end with a quote from Rand which inspires me to stand firmly for my own beliefs I will swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. Who was Ayn Rand Irregardless if you agree with her philosophy or not, you cannot deny Rand one fact she was a phenomenon Born in Russia, Rand emigrated to the U.S in 1925, when she was just 21 Seeing the skyline of Manhattan for the very first time in her life, she cried That skyline emphasized everything she believed in and dedicated her life to the strenght of man s spirit and will of the gifted individual.An incredibly driven woman, Rand decided that she will become famous and did A self proclaimed non advocate of Rand s ideas, Anne Heller offers what is probably the most unbiased chronicle of her life In a 1991 poll, readers named Rand s most famous work, Atlas Shrugged as the book that influenced them most after the Bible Another poll, from 1998, has shown that readers named Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead as numbers one and two on a list of the 100 greatest novels of the 20th century, with Rand s two other novels being not far behind Decades after their first publication her works are still in print, still read, still discussed, still loathed and still loved Atlas Shrugged is still a bestseller which seems to only gain popularity with age, as politicians , commentators and even judges cite its influence on their lives and name it as one of their favorite novels, if not the favorite.Heller does a great job at conveying Rand s life and all its twists and turns, writing a book which despite its non fiction status has almost a page turning quality of a thriller The tale of Rand s life, from her Russian uprbringing and the birth of a hatred for the opressive regime, through emigration and adaptation to the U.S and the freedom it offered, her early work at Hollywood, and her rise to fame and the development of her cult In a way, Rand was an ideal American she decided that she d become famous, and to do so decided to go to the U.S to pursue her American Dream There, through almost grotesque turn of luck she met Cecil B Demille, who hired her as a screenwriter Through almost inhuman determination she pursued her ambition and passion, which is reflected in her literary creations such as John Galt and Howard Roark She achieved everything she wanted to this day her works are read and discussed, and an institute was formed and named in her honor However, at the same time,she was the embodiment of human tragedy even though she developed a huge following as years progressed she felt growin solitude and detachment from those around her She pushed away her husband, and only when he died realized what she had done to him she died in her apartment in New York in 1982, alone.Heller takes up the role of a historian this is not a commentary of Rand s ideas or analysis of them She wants to know what made the woman tick how Alisa Rosenbaum became Ayn Rand, and why Irregardless if you like Rand or not, agree or disagree with her ideas, read or burn her books, she had a fascinating life which is well documented here Both despised and admired, ridiculed and worshipped, Ayn Rand was and remains a phenomenon and one of America s most influential women This biography provides an insight into the life of a woman who proclaimed selfishness as a virtue and got away with it. I enjoyed this book The reader is left to make their own conclusions about what made Ayn Rand tick, or what label could be put on her to explain her odd behavior It was obvious to me she was a narcissist, but the author only used that term once and she also mentioned Albert Ellis made the same assessment It is likely her narcissism ended up influencing her philosophy, but I don t think every Objectivist should automatically be labeled a narcissist The book would have been better if the author had explored her psychology a little , but the author is an historian and not a psychologist Anyone familiar with the narcissistic personality disorder would find the life of Ayn Rand fascinating She was totally oblivious to the thoughts and feelings of those around her, lacking empathy for even those closest to her Although she was undoubtedly a genius, she always had an extreme sense of self importance, exaggerating her own influence and achievements She required excessive loyalty and created enemies of anyone who criticized her or refused to express the kind of admiration she thought she deserved She formed a cult of loyal followers who worshipped her, and also agreed to make enemies of her enemies She was a classic narcissist.She is also an unbelievably driven woman and had influence on American political thought than any woman in history This is the world she made, not the Randian cult which still survives.It is ironic that you will never hear a word about Ayn Rand in any Women s Study course If social scientists were even somewhat familiar with her personality, most of them would enjoy making her a case study in narcissism. I love Ayn Rand s fiction The first time I ever picked up Atlas Shrugged, I was head over heels in love Growing up conservative, I had never read anyone who had apologetics for my political beliefs or less without it being a religious thing Here were these characters who were so black and white, so unquestionably certain of what they believed and it was made so clear why I often seek out shades of gray, I think it s important for me to keep myself from being too extreme one way or another but sometimes I find it incredibly refreshing to see someone with such purity of belief and purpose As I read her other 3 novels, I continued to feel this There was such a refreshing feeling in jumping into such a stark world But Her characters always struck me as somewhat cold Sort of purified by ice and fire but never 100% human In this biography of her life, I found that hers was a life that ultimately reflected all the worst outcomes of unbending convictions with no grace or room for any kind of compromise or understanding A fascinating read about a complex and brutal woman with an amazing gift for writing and little for compassion I would definitely recommend it for anyone with an interest in this dynamic woman. The irony of Ayn Rand is that in espousing a rigid doctrine of selfishness she ended up re creating the very thought system she railed against namely all is black and white the self anointed and self aggrandized are superior solely because they believe it so not because they possess any truly redemptive qualities those without wealth or sanctioned creative talent are inferior and thus have no right to live paranoia is synonymous with faith manipulation is a substitute for love the mandate of society and government is to impose the will of the rulers rationality is king even if it is irrational You get the point Rand was one very bright and very misguided individual She believed strongly in her ideas, so strongly in fact that she, personally, had great trouble crossing the line into reality preferring instead the loneliness of her very stark and narrow belief system Some of her ideas were brilliant, some downright nuts but all were presented in and by an iron clad will that would have done Rasputin proud.Sadly, far too many of our government figures have signed on to some of the most untenable of her ideas and like Rand herself believe so strongly in their righteousness that they fail to see how selfishness does little to create a society in which the rational can flourish.Heller presented a very balanced portrait of Rand based on materials, including journals, that Rand herself wrote and on conversations, writings and recollections of those who knew her best It was a fascinating look at a magnetic individual who had a wide reaching impact on our world I highly recommend it. |DOWNLOAD BOOK ☩ Ayn Rand and the World She Made ☫ Ayn Rand Is Best Known As The Author Of The Perennially Bestselling NovelsThe Fountainhead And Atlas Shrugged Altogether, Than Million Copies Of The Two Novels Have Been Sold In The United States The Books Have Attracted Three Generations Of Readers, Shaped The Foundation Of The Libertarian Movement, And Influenced White House Economic Policies Throughout The Reagan Years And Beyond A Passionate Advocate Of Laissez Faire Capitalism And Individual Rights, Rand Remains A Powerful Force In The Political Perceptions Of Americans Today Yet Twenty Five Years After Her Death, Her Readers Know Little About Her LifeIn This Seminal Biography, Anne C Heller Traces The Controversial Author S Life From Her Childhood In Russia During The Bolshevik Revolution To Her Years As A Screenwriter In Hollywood, The Publication Of Her Blockbuster Novels, And The Rise And Fall Of The Cult That Formed Around Her In The S And S Throughout, Heller Reveals Previously Unknown Facts About Rand S History And Looks At Rand With New Research And A Fresh Perspective Based On Original Research In Russia, Dozens Of Interviews With Rand S Acquaintances And Former Acolytes, And Previously Unexamined Archives Of Tapes And Letters, AYN RAND AND THE WORLD SHE MADE Is A Comprehensive And Eye Opening Portrait Of One Of The Most Significant And Improbable Figures Of The Twentieth Century A hideous woman with a wide reaching philosophy Why do they always teach us that it s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves It s the hardest thing in the world to do what we want And it takes the greatest kind of courage I mean, what we really want Ayn RandThere are people I dislike at a visceral level but after reading a biography or memoir I at least understand them I may even discover redeeming qualities in them Not so with Ayn Rand she was a hideously heartless human being A Russian immigrant, she came to the United States as the best hope her family had for immigrating after she succeeded in making a comfortable life for herself Her father s favorite, she was intelligent and well educated Every member of her family sacrificed their own aspirations in order for her to complete her education and to immigrate She did not repay their sacrifices Instead she rationalized that, as a superior person, she deserved what she received Further, she rejected anyone who did anything against their own interest as inferior Not one member of her family immigrated to the U.S after her.Throughout her life this scenario repeated itself She accepted help from American relatives, took advantage of friend s offers, and used her meek husband to achieve her goals Ultimately, she used, abused and abandoned admirers and followers without even blinking an eye Hers was an ego so large that there was no room for a conscience Self aggrandisement and a hatred for communism colored her world view Incomprehensibly, she did have charisma Her followers adored her and hung on her every word A great many influential conservative men Alan Greenspan and William F Buckley among them were not only acolytes but went on to give her philosophy credence I say philosophy because she never actually wrote any academic works delineating her beliefs She is best known for her early screenplays and fiction Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, for example She also self published non fiction and essays and gave speeches in favor of conservative candidates It is from these that her admirers have cobbled her philosophy of Objectivism objective self interest It is now variously misinterpreted by the Tea Party, many conservative Republicans and Libertarians Interestingly, she would have rejected all of her current admirers In fact in than one occasion she talked and wrote that she despised Libertarians and rejected anyone who believed in religion as inferior.While the content of the book was interesting, the writing itself was gossipy, tedious and repetitive Good editing would have cut the size of this book by a third Three stars. What a marvelous horror was Ayn Rand A perfect storm of fearsome intelligence and narcissism in the form of a small, dark eyed, russian jewish emigree who arrived in America, alone, in 1926 and set out to conquer the dreams denied to her in Communist Russia She hammered out her philosophy of Objectivism and created heroes in books that gradually inspired a cult following literally that included, among others, former Chairman of The Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan and then gathered that following to populate the physical world around her she became the hero gods she had described in her stories A tyrannical god over all who personally submitted to the magic of her mind Heller s book paints an amazing picture of Rand and all of her facets through the years, admirable and distasteful writer, philosopher, wife, lover Creator Judge and jury Beleagured saint of the capitalist cause and evangelist of the virtues of individual selfishness. This new Ayn Rand biography didn t have anything really new or surprising in it I m a big fan of biographies, particularly those of larger than life personalities whether they are obnoxious or admirable or both whether I ag ree with their ideas, politics, etc., or not Ayn Rand has always fascinated me I remember reading The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged two huge books, in only a few days The books consciously repelled me, and yet strangely they drew me into their convoluted plots, with pages and pages of boring, unrealistic dialog and speeches, which served to espouse Rand s philosophy of Objectivism I remember laughing at how contrived the characters were, and how preachy the books were, yet I was not able to put them down I guess they are consistently listed in the top 100 books ever written based on number of sales per year, I think, but also on other top type lists so I guess I am not alone.Rand s writing, although better than that of John Grisham or that Stephanie chick who writes the hugely popular Twilight Vampire tripe, is no great literature, in form or function.But I admit her ideas were and still are radical, and somewhat original, and she tried to live by them Mainly, Objectivism is individualism, with a morality of acting within one s rational self interest, anti altruistic, pro morality of the black and white sort , for an objective reality that exists outside our minds and that we can comprehend and understand with our senses That man has no instincts like the animals do he has to learn, use his senses and reason, and that the world is real Her basic axiom was the tautology existence exists, and I cannot understand her reasoning for that one.Although Rand claimed, and I believe, she really did think she invented this totally original philosophy, it seems to me that borrowed a lot of Nietzsche she outright believed that survival of the individual, and not the species or common humanity, was the aim of her morality That man was an end in itself, not a means to some other value especially NOT for the purpose of procreation and she had no children She seemed like she identified with Nietzsche s Overman she despised the herd mentality of the majority and she turned traditional morality on its head She upheld selfishness, greed, and any values that helped one preserve and maintain the individual at the expense of anyone else She differed from Nietzsche in that she was, somewhat paradoxically to most of us, a moral absolutist She just made traditional vices into virtues, and vice versa She despised compassion, altruism, helping the weak, etc., just as much as Nietzsche did But aside from the fact that Nietzsche was a great genius of a thinker, with a much systematic, prophetic philosophy, not to mention, how his ideas have been justified, somewhat, by modern science, he did not believe that morality existed That morality was just a cognitive explanation of reality, not a cause of anything, and nothing but an illusion, to simplify it He thought that nature was amoral, and therefore so is humanity, etc etcanyway, I am running on too long here my main point is that although she adopted much of his thought, she radically veered away from him by claiming an absolutist, black and white morality, applicable to all people at all times, achievable by all people through reason and ability That absolutist morality is inverted from what religions teach, and from what most people espouse, but it is a morality none the less For Rand, her atheism did not seem to pose any type of problem with or contradiction with her absolutist morality system Indeed, she does have many good arguments about how one does not need to be a theist in order to believe in, and act within, moral absolutes, or to have a grounding for that morality.She also espoused a radical, unfettered capitalism as the only moral economic philosophy That was and is not much outside mainstream Republicanism An interesting aside is how Alan Greenspan was one of her prot g s who attended her meetings and discussions at her house and was completely influenced by her and he put those ideas into practice at the Fed, as much as he could Rand did, however, collect Social Security benefits, but only because she paid into the system, she said There was something about Rand that impacted history greatly Even though many think that she wasn t really all that intelligent, and had studied little philosophy she seemed to know practically nothing about Kant yet she criticized him relentlessly, blaming him for everything from Communism to relativism to the glorification of the weak and that his philosophy alone has been responsible for the near downfall of society.Well, perhaps she wasn t that bright, but she possessed an intelligence that allowed her to create her own cult of personality there s no denying that And a cult it was.This biography describes her minions and lapdogs mostly well off college students in the 50s and 60s, who treated her like a rock star, read her books incessantly and obsessively Another of her prot g s, Nathaniel Branden, who is currently a psychologist in California, having been excommunicated from Objectivism by Rand herself, had read Atlas Shrugged, with like 800 pages, over forty times as a teenager, and had memorized the whole thing.For being such a hardcore atheist, Rand sure liked being a god herself to these people They d sit around her apartment several nights per week, sometimes literally all night, discussing her book characters as though they were real people Anyone remember Who is John Galt Galt, of course, being the objectivist prototype the perfect specimen, the embodiment, of Rand s philosophy, even though he was just a book character These people tried to actually copy the characters, in belief, in actions and in petty things such as taste in music,etc To become one of her perfect characters was an actual goal And those perfect characters lived only for themselves as John stated in his pages long manifesto radio speech in Atlas Shrugged I swear by my life, and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine or something like that Basically, her groupies were obsessively concerned with this fantastical philosophy and this highly charismatic woman But her charisma was often like that of a tyrant, with her yelling at people, bossing them around, dictating the only acceptable beliefs and actions they could have and still be one of hers, even projecting her morality onto things of strictly personal taste For example, she dropped a supposedly good friend like a hot potato for the sin of liking Monet s art And that was her big thing Not only would she stop being friendly to a person who had offended her in some manner, that person would be outcast from the cult And if anyone else happened to talk to that outcast, or even to just try to remain neutral, he or she too was ousted as a traitor to Rand Simply disagreeing with her, on practically any matter, or of course, challenging her at all, was grounds for becoming a persona non grata Objectivism was HER philosophy, like she had a copyright on it, and she could ban people from writing about it or giving speeches about it, or presenting it, if she wanted to To this day some of her still existing band of worshipers, on internet sites, debate whether it is possible to disagree with Rand on ANYTHING and still label oneself an objectivist.What s interesting is she wasn t always like that Early on she enjoyed debate and cordial argument, as long as the disagreement was supportable by logic, etc She seemed to relish great conversation about ideas, and to tolerate others ideas, even though she was never shy about her own beliefs and never one to step away from an argument until she had convinced the other person she was right, if only because she exhausted the person into caving in As she got older she seemed to have become and paranoid perhaps not unlike Nietzsche towards his end , and believing that she alone was the genius, the one who must suffer betrayal and ostracization from the others, because she was too much for them, too rational, too consistent, too threatening with her grandiose belief in her own intelligence.Anyway, the book is interesting but shed no new light on anything No special or shocking revelations, nothing that hasn t already been written about Rand and her group, both her personal life and her philosophy If you re a fan of hers you already know everything in the book But then again, as a fan you probably want to read everything about her And I can recommend the book as interesting, etc., but it just doesn t add anything to what s already out there.The worst or best, depending on your belief parts in the book are when the author attributes much of Rand s dictatorial personality and impossibly high standards in friendships to the insecurity she suffered as a child growing up in Communist Russia Rand admitted she always felt like an outsider, but she attributed that to the bad behavior of others People were always disappointing her, failing her in some way, not being good enough for her.As is well known, there was a scandal in the group wherein Rand had an affair with Branden, one of her earliest worshipers, who was something like 30 years younger than Rand He, like Rand, was married to someone else, but the two of them, consistent with their morality, told their spouses in a group meeting that the they intended to start an affair They justified it that it was only rational, logical, and inevitable that two people so consistent with Objectivism and devoted to it religiously, would HAVE to be together for at least part of the time It was rare for two people Rand and Branden to find each other, therefore, the affair was practically mandated by reason And then they laid it on thick by saying that if anyone could handle this arrangement, it was the four of them, since they were all so rational, mature, unemotional, acting according to the dictates of their philosophy, purely logical what a joke Another odd thing is her marriage which lasted for several decades to a man who pretty much a milk toast just the opposite of the John Galt god that Rand so much idolized It seems they did really love each other, but he was completely controlled by her, and inasmuch as he was usually an unemployed actor, florist, or artist painter, she did bring in the money and controlled everything He seemed ok with it, but again, who knows It seems pretty preposterous that he was ok with the affair I m sure he was bullied into agreeing to it, because he knew, with Ayn, there was no choice it was her way or the highway When Branden then started cheating on Rand with a young woman in her early 20 s, he was still married too it took months for Rand to realize his lies and she then kicked him out of the group and out of the philosophy altogether Her journals from this time seem to show her being IRRATIONAL, by rationalizing Branden s hurtful behavior through conducting arduous over analysis of his philosophy, etc.The author portrays Rand as the old woman scorned, who then sought to make Branden s life hell not out of any adherence to logical philosophy but out of pure egotism, humiliation, and insecurity Not to mention revenge She tried to stop the publishing of some of his work, insinuated to others that the reason she had to kick him out of the Nathaniel Branden Institute they were business partners in it was because he was stealing funds, and the whole thing was settled only through lawsuit threats and basically, a payoff to Branden to get the heck out of her life and give up his partnership rights in the business, and give up all rights to some of his own copyrighted material, as well as being prohibited from even mentioning that he EVER was associated with Objectivism She justified this based on her conclusion that Branden was a total faker, a manipulator who never really was John Galt after all, but rather one of the spineless, useless parasite characters in her books instead, and he had been living a lie, pretending to be an Objectivist when he really never was one That seems very odd to me She said she pitied him that he could not handle her.Indeed, few people could handle her, that was true, but probably because she was a bitch Was she let down by people because they were so defective and unworthy poseurs, or was it that she was impossible to please unforgiving and downright mean sometimes Who used her supposed rationalism as a defense mechanism She was too smart, too logical, etc., she either believed or tried to believe, and that was the reason for her many failed relationships with many varied people, men and women both Was it just easier to believe that than to face the fact that perhaps she WAS actually the wrong one, was it easier to cut people out of her life immediately rather than wait for them to cut her out and was she too insecure to handle rejection, that she had to reject someone at the slightest hint of their possible disloyalty When the writer, as many biographers do, attempts to psychoanalyze their subjects, I quickly lose interest Not in the subject, it is intriguing But in those authors who think they know one s REAL motives, reasons, etc., behind the actions That there is always some insecurity, some defense mechanism, some childhood trauma being relived or something, that explains the questionable behavior Of course, Rand could have been insecure although aren t most people to some extent She could have been using a defense mechanism, but maybe she really did believe in her own intellectual superiority, and found it hard to get and keep intellectual companionship, so finally she just gave up and decided to be her own hardcore self, take her or leave her Who knows Is every jerk really just an insecure little child inside, misunderstood, unloved, etc., or are there just some people who are just outright jerks and secure about it, and don t care what people think She was a force to be reckoned with, if nothing else, love her or hate her And her story is one of hard work and success she came from nothing Even if her philosophy was maybe unoriginal and simplistic, it never went away, as evidenced to this day by this biography so many years later And the existence of the Ayn Rand Institute still going strong, still with a lot of obsessed fans debating on the internet.Her books, of course, will keep her alive forever She made an impact she was a woman who never once complained of discrimination, and strangely, she did not seem to be discriminated against It was not an issue, as far as I can tell She was loved or hated for her ideas and or personality, not for her gender.That about wraps it up