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 Market follows 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.
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This book does a lot. She looks not only at Rand's life, but those who influenced her thinking, her developing ideas, and the impacts her ideas have had on the world at large. Given the content of her novels a lot of what appears in these pages shouldn't be surprising. She appears cut off from reality in so many ways. She either couldn't recognize or couldn't acknowledge that no idea is completely original, it all stands on the ideas of those that came before us. And, it is that insecurity which so limited her ideas and development. I am stunned by the impact she has had, and I failed to recognize the long reach in to so many areas. It is shocking that such poor work as Rand's has been taken so seriously by so many. This is a very important area of study. And, you get the see the problem where things like the 2008 crash which should raise questions about the viability of the unrestricted Free Market, only gets answered with "the true free market doesn't exist" and that, they see as the problem. I think the author does a great job and looking at the underpinnings of Rand's ideas. If anyone needed to "check their premises, " it was Rand herself. It's noteworthy to see who young she was when the Russian Revolution devastated her family. I've although thought that had a profound influence on her thinking. In her novels, there is a "collectivist" under every bush, and the rants at the end of her life, seem to confirm this paranoid world view.
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