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The Passion of Ayn Rand

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  1,511 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
This bestselling biography of one of the 20th century's most remarkable and controversial writers is now available in paperback.Author Barbara Branden, who knew Rand for nineteen years, provides a matchless portrait of this fiercely private and complex woman. ...more
Paperback, 464 pages
Published August 18th 1987 by Anchor (first published 1986)
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Apr 05, 2009 Eric_W rated it really liked it
The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are often cited by people as seminal works in the development of their personal world view. What is this philosophy expounded by Rand called objectivism? Also known as “enlightened self-interest,” it has become the basis for much of libertarian politics. Rand has rarely been viewed neutrally: she is either seen as a prophet of reason or the destroyer of traditional values; the promoter of personal happiness and self-worth or advocate of mindless greed.

Her chi
Jul 12, 2011 Rowland rated it really liked it
I don't usually read biographies, but having read some of Ayn Rand's books I was very interested in what made her tick. There is much controversy that gets generated whenever her name is mentioned so I wanted to know more. The Passion of Ayn Rand was a surprising insightful and thoughtful book on the life and times of Ayn Rand.

Initially I was expecting a hatchet job since many people despise her, but Barbara Branden provides a well balanced look at one of the most controversial and influential f
Jun 22, 2016 Gary rated it did not like it
Ayn Rand glorified selfishness and absence of any social consience-not someone we should look up to
What amazes me most is how so many religious people revere Rand when her ideas where so anti-Biblical in every way whether you be Christian or Jewish
Aug 09, 2008 H rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: capitalists
Ayn Rand's journey to America from Russia is a familiar tale to immigrants. When an American woman came to speak at her university in Russia, she was impressed with the pride and dignity the woman radiated. She though that could only come from a person who lives in a free country. Rand left Russia with next to nothing while she was nineteen and pursued her goal of becoming a writer in the U.S.

The book chronicles Rand's private life, her political views, objectivism, and summarizes each of her
Oct 30, 2009 Elby rated it liked it
Although Ms.Rand may be able to turn out great political books and writings, she was a very selfish, hostile, unforgiving woman whom could justify all kinds of bad behavior on her part. I did enjoy reading this book but would caution anyone who is a die hard fan of hers to avoid this one if you don't want your illusions destroyed. When she died, she went straight to hell. I expect I'll meet her there someday.
Aug 30, 2009 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Your understanding of Ayn Rand and Objectivism is not complete until you have read this book.
Tanya W
Oct 10, 2012 Tanya W rated it really liked it
I don't know what gave me the idea to read this book. It was very well written, and a fascinating read about Ayn Rand, a very bright and unusual woman who has had a lasting impact on philosophy through her writing.

Barbara Branden does an amazing job of telling Ayn Rand's story objectively (even though she was personally hurt by Rand's radical ideas, including the ongoing affair with Branden's then husband), ideas which seemed to create a cult-like following, but which most people would immediat
Aug 26, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Ayn Rand Fans
I have been fascinated by Ayn Rand since I read Atlas Shrugged. I was appauled by her after reading the biography. She was a horribly selfish woman. She destroyed the man who loved her and made the people who respected her hate her.

I was rooting for her as she escaped from communist Russia and then furiously turned against her as she forced an affair with her protege.
Kevin J. Rogers
Jun 23, 2008 Kevin J. Rogers rated it really liked it
Barbara Branden's incisive and, in the end, deeply moving biography of Ayn Rand bears a cautionary tale: even the strongest and most independent among us cannot live without love. Highly recommended for its excellent style and poignant story.
Jul 15, 2008 Kev rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Outstanding. Must read this to get a human fully-formed portrait of Rand. Branden does a remarkably generous homage to her former mentor. What happened to Greenspan???
Mar 17, 2010 Lauren is currently reading it
A bit histrionic with excessive use of lists. Branden's writing is perhaps the opposite of Rand's--for better or for worse.
Jun 08, 2007 Colleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Quite revealing. Turns out she was far more (and less) human than her writing might lead you to believe...she was not as objective as one might hope.
May 05, 2008 Heather rated it really liked it
Truth is stranger than fiction!
Dec 16, 2008 Miyo rated it it was ok
good bio on a horrendous person. I really hated AR after reading this bio.
Marcus Clark
Jan 09, 2014 Marcus Clark rated it it was amazing

Barbara Branden, died on 11 December 2013, at 84 years old. She was an "associate" of Ayn Rand, a former member of Rand's inner circle, and co-author of Ayn Rand's first biography.

Ayn Rand was one of the most influential women in the United States, influencing the financial and political domain. Barbara Branden's explosive second biography changed what many people believed about Ayn Rand. It presented a view, warts and all, that revealed her private life in unwholesome detail.

Barbara Branden, d
Lisa (Harmonybites)
One review here says this book would never be read by admirers of Ayn Rand. Well, maybe not uncritical doctrinaire ones. I was an admirer when I started the book and one when I left it. In fact, I'm glad I found it early on when I had just discovered Ayn Rand and she had created a revolution in my thinking. I think if there had been any danger I'd become a "Randroid" as I've heard some describe it, this book did put paid to that, because goodness it's true this book does a good job of idol smash ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Cyndi rated it it was amazing
I don't remember when I first learned of Ayn Rand's and Nathaniel Branden's open long-term affair (both spouses knew) and their ultimate break but I was immediately intrigued.

I had not read any of either of their books so I started there.

I first read Branden's "Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem". It was ok but somewhat repetitive and boring.

And then I read Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Mind blowing. It was epic, over 1300 pages. While I don't agree with all of her philosophies, it was a great story and cha
Jun 13, 2007 Sotoleon rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: literary gossip (and bio) enthusiasts
_The Passion of Ayn Rand_ is fascinating. I remember reading Rand's The Fountainhead when I was eighteen and though I liked Howard Roark's and Dominique Francon's erotically charged relationship and the symbolic values that both characters represent, I was too young to appreciate the economy of words, the intricate plot structure, and the tightly focused narrative arc which brings in all the main characters at the end and throws into relief each of their philosophical worldviews, which have been ...more
Renea Boren
Feb 18, 2014 Renea Boren rated it it was amazing
Ayn Rand books changed my thoughts in every aspect of my life. Ayn lets you know that it's ok to to be selfish with your own original thoughts and ideas. Our government wants you to think that they know what is best for masses of people. they want you to think they know what is best independent,common sense. I have read "Atlas Shrugged" 3 times and every time I learn something new. I wish Ayn's books were mandatory for all Middle Schools and High School students her books would show the children ...more
Oct 19, 2012 Runsilent rated it it was amazing
I first read an Ayn Rand book during my sophomore year in high school (Fountainhead, if anyone cares). Though my New Relationship Energy with her ideas faded away many decades ago, I continue to find her ideas interesting. Throughout her lifetime, Rand blocked efforts to see her in any terms other than the terms she demanded: as a shining living example of the heroes whose stories she wrote down. She kept hoping that she would find other "living examples," and died in bitter disappointment that ...more
Todd Stockslager
An autobiography of Rand written by the wife of the man she shared with Rand! Another chapter in the bizarre history of Ayn (rhymes with "mine") Rand. Not bad, but likely not too reliable as biography given that the early part of Rand's bio is based solely on her notoriously unreliable recall of past events, and that the latter part of it is based heavily on Branden's personal experience and memory, likely not to be objective (get it!?) given her emotional closeness to the subject.

However, it c
Massanutten Regional Library
Evann, Central patron, July 2016, 5 stars:

Whether you have been a fan of Ayn Rand or not; whether you bought her philosophy of Objectivism or not; you will find this book a very interesting read. The closest I ever came to meeting Ms. Rand was in an elevator; I knew Nathaniel Branden (her one-time intellectual heir and much much more) for a number of years. I knew about their rift and the damage it caused to people and to the philosophy. But the blinders were off after reading this book, by one
Mar 06, 2016 Amy rated it it was ok
My own intellectual history with Rand aside, I read this because of this, which you should click immediately:

Anyway, the book is uncomfortably fawning like 75% of the time, but vastly compelling, partly because Ayn Rand couldn't stop being Ayn Rand and doing the most Ayn Rand things possible. Seriously.
Louis Torres
Nov 27, 2015 Louis Torres rated it it was amazing
Still the best biography "re-creat[ing] the unique and complex woman who was Ayn Rand and "demonstrat[ing] the essential beneficence of her intellectual legacy," as I characterize the book at the end of my review in Aristos, May 1987---"Boswell's Johnson, Branden's Rand: 'The Passion of Ayn Rand' in Historical Perspective" [].

Louis Torres, Co-Editor, Aristos (An Online Review of the Arts) -
Lou Lieb
Jun 10, 2016 Lou Lieb rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
I liked the book. It was a good read - not perfect by any means. I liked the fact that it gave an insider's point of view, which nevertheless has its limitations, of course. You can't expect objectivity. While she gives a nice perspective on Rand's psychology, she more or less assumes the validity of Rand's philosophy.
I'll have to look elsewhere for a fuller analysis of the validity of RAND's ideas.
Jun 26, 2011 Vikki rated it really liked it
This book was very good. It tells much of the Ayn Rand philosophy. It tells of the long affair of Ayn Rand and Nathanial Braden, the author's husband. And then it tells of the break among all of them. The Bradens would not tell the real reason for this split although they were shamed publicly. Ayn Rand was not a very nice person, egotistical and so very dominant. I would like to read Nathan Braden's biography.
Jaime Contreras
Oct 02, 2016 Jaime Contreras rated it did not like it
Shelves: bios-memoirs
What a self-absorbed and egotist this woman was and remains. I stopped reading after 100 pages and then just skimmed because it goes against my beliefs. Miss Rand appeals to liberal idealists who want to march to his/her own drum regardless of who is offended. This is a misguided attitude and not one that has ever worked. Ayn Rand was a rebel with a private cause - her own fulfillment. I cannot recommend this book.
Aug 14, 2008 Beth rated it liked it
AR would have hated it. Any portrayal of her as less than one of her heroic figures would not be acceptable. The book was good, thorough, compassionate and generous. Sets the period of time in which AR lived and arrived as an immigrant, a strange and confused young woman, who becomes an idealistic survivalist.

Molly Mix
Feb 08, 2010 Molly Mix rated it really liked it
Very interesting read. It was written by a woman who was a disciple of sorts of Ayn's and whose husband eventually became Ayn's lover, so I'm not certain exactly how objective it was. It's always disappointing to discover that one's intellectual heroes were laid just as low as the common man by things as banal as sex. Ayn was brilliant, but also a sad megolomaniac tyrant. Bummer dude.
Dec 28, 2013 Don rated it really liked it
A good biography of Ayn Rand, which you wouldn't expect because Rand had an affair with the author's husband. It is sympathetic to Rand without being a hagiography. Rand's faults are brought to light along with her well-known virtues. Rand's humanity shines through, though she probably wouldn't have liked that.
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