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Hero of the Day - Ayn Rand

In 1986, Roy A. Childs, Jr. wrote a widely-discussed review for Laissez Faire Books of Barbara Branden's biography of Ayn Rand. Here is an excerpt.

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Ayn Rand's life was the stuff of fiction. Consider her saga: She was born in Czarist Russia, lived through the Bolshevik revolution, and vowed to go to America. Barely two years after graduating from university, she did so. In 1926 she arrived in New York City alone, with about $50 in her pocket. She spent some months with relatives in Chicago, and then made her way across the continent to Hollywood, where she worked at odd jobs—stuffing envelopes, waitressing in a diner, and running a studio wardrobe department—until she could make a financial success of her writing.

That didn't happen until she sold The Fountainhead—after it had been rejected by a dozen publishers. With that novel, and later, Atlas Shrugged, she became both wealthy and world-famous. Ayn Rand set out to achieve what she wanted in life, and did it. It was one hell of a life.

In The Passion of Ayn Rand, we become acquainted with her parents and sisters, her teachers and peers see the events she witnessed as a child, and learn how she dealt with them. We follow the fortunes of her family, a prosperous Jewish family that endured Czarist rule, the First World War, the Bolshevik revolution and the tyranny of Communism. Barbara asks the probing questions we all want to see answered, questions about how Alice Rosenbaum evolved as a human being.

Once we travel with young Alice to America, we reach more familiar ground. But here too are many, many things that came as a complete surprise to me. I don't want to spoil your pleasure by telling you what they are. Read the book.

Ayn Rand had an enormous influence, more than most of her admirers know. She had a particularly powerful impact on the contemporary libertarian movement, and I once wrote that trying to sort out that impact is rather like trying to sort out how Christianity transformed Western civilization.

Whatever your views, read this book. Ayn Rand had a tremendous influence in helping to revive the ideals of reason, individualism, and the free society. Her achievements remain towering, and her positive legacy remains unsurpassed.
     —Roy A. Childs, Jr.

Copyright © 2000, The Daily Objectivist - Reprinted with permission of The Daily Objectivist and

5 May 2009