In short, this is not merely a history of Rand, but also a lovely portrayal of the "high level" history of the 30's through the 60's. Roosevelt, New Deal, Anti-semitism, Conservatives, were all nightmares for Rand.
Of particular interest to me, was her relationship with Isabel Patterson, author of "God in the Machine." Of course, at the end of the day Rand would have nothing to do with mysticism of ANY sort, which eventually broke the decades long friendship.
Ont to the book itself. It is well written with an engaging style. Heller, is an ecellent historian and put years of research into this effort. I judge her treatment and presentation as fair and balanced. She presents the greatness and genius of Rand along with her deep psychological wounds, which from my understanding dogged her over her entire life. Nevertheless it is an inspiring book in both the positive and negative sense. Positively inspiring because Heller clearly paints an individual who knew who she was -- i.e. her "values" -- and who overcame amazing odds and actually accomplished what SHE set out to do -- to become an independent writer. Negatively inspiring, in that it serves as a lesson for us all that even geniuses need to always be aware they are not believing their own BS.
Ironically, being that "evasion" in Objectivist circles is similar to "unpardonable sin", Rand herself was not immune to psychological dysfunction. Towards the end, all she retained around her were people who jumped when she said frog, and this in both my and the author's opinion was her achilles heel. People, especially geniuses, should not purposely choose a cadre of sycophants as their primary support group. We all need to be challenged, especially the more "forceful" the personality.
Regarding the narrator, Bernadette Dunne, I think she is now my favorite. Her voice is clear and crisp, and she does not merely "read" but is talented at capturing the emotional context of the author's meaning.
There are great literary works and there are great works of narration. "The Dream of Reason (Unabridged)" from Audible.com is both.
The greatness of this book is well known ( so I will concentrate primarily on the recording content), tracing the philosophy of "reason" from its infancy in early Greek thought, to the monumental advances of Aristotle (the greatest philosopher of all time IMO), onto the relevancy to the modern day. One need NOT be formally trained in philosophy to enjoy, learn from, and appreciate this narration. Even so, the advanced philosopher will enjoy even more. In short this is simply a real gem.
Although I had read this book several times in print, the audible version animates in such a wonderful way. Indeed, I found myself so captivated by the perfect narration, that I tended to 'remain" in my car even upon arrival at my destination :-)
I could not recommend a title at Audible.com more highly.
Indeed, I truly believe it will make you a better person. It did me :-)
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