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The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis
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The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  687 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Tracing the emergence of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism in the 1940s to her present-day influence, Darryl Cunningham’s latest work of graphic-nonfiction investigation leads readers to the heart of the global financial crisis of 2008. Cunningham uses Rand’s biography to illuminate the policies that led to the economic crash in the U.S. and in Europe, and how her philo ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 31st 2015 by Harry N. Abrams (first published January 1st 2014)
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Tyler Jones
Jul 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
My high rating of this book partially reflects the fact that I agree with it. Somewhere down the line we, as a society, became so profit obsessed that we turned a blind eye to the fact we were building a financial house of cards. The book lays the blame on the criminals; those who perpetrated fraud by passing off stinky junk debt as secure, mortgaged-backed investments. The truth is the crime was systemic and we all, lefties and righties alike, allowed it to happen.

I like the way the book explai
May 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I especially enjoyed the first two sections and wasn't familiar with Rand's biography. It explains a lot and helps explain Greenspan's role in setting up the 2008 crash described in the second section. I was also surprised at how much the art added to the story. I felt the third section lost focus and fell into a false equivalence trap when it tried to describe the positive side of the conservative mindset. In the end, the third section in particular is clearly written from a certain political p ...more
Stewart Tame
May 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Ouch! So the book I read before starting this one was a collection of LOLcat memes. I think I got mental whiplash. This is an excellent book! It begins with Ayn Rand and her disciples, and ultimately takes us through deregulation all the way up to Obamacare and beyond. Cunningham lays everything out with elegant simplicity. This is some of the most easy-to-follow economics I've ever read, not that I've had a wide experience reading such. I admire his ability to talk politics without belittling t ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, comics, theory
A fantastic book--the artwork complements the text perfectly, in that in this case, it enhances the subject rather than detracting from the prose. Because the history of Ayn Rand and her Objectivism, especially in connection with U.S. (and world--author is English and connects the dots between this predatory capitalism and UKIP), this is more relevant than ever, which is depressing since this book was written a few years ago.


It's not a huge revelation the hypocrisy behind a lot of what Ayn Ran
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I won a copy of Darryl Cunningham's "The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis" from the website. As a political moderate (AKA - I don't trust ANY politician), I can definitely see the flaws in objectivist thinking as well as the negative impact it has on modern society. I believe the author could have taken it one step further, though. Many people promote objectivism at the expense of the middle class, yet others take it further by promoting objectivism ...more
Emilia P
Feb 02, 2015 added it
Shelves: comic-books
A crisp, biting bio of Rand, an excellent explanation of the origins of the global financial crisis of 2008, and a HORRIBLE attempt to tie them together with a laundry list of "liberals are this way, conservatives are this way" that did not deliver a convincing argument, own up to its bias, or convince me I should oppose a Randian conservativism (even though I am SUPER-anti-objectivist! Yeesh!). Plus the illustrations are great in themselves, but become superfluous and repetitive as the book plo ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the first two-thirds of this graphic novel - Cunningham makes a convincing argument showing the influence of Ayn Rand and her disciples in fomenting what became the financial crisis. His illustrations make the complexities of derivatives and CDOs easy to understand, and provide a depth often inaccessible with just words. However, the third section on the "Age of Selfishness" was reductive in its analysis, and fell back on stereotypes on how liberals are "creative" and conservati ...more
John of Canada
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Anyone who is incapable of independent thought.
Leave your critical faculties at the door,Darryl Cunningham will do your thinking for you.Just reading the preface and introduction is evidence that the book is a hatchet job.Simplistic invented conversations,talking buildings,"research"galore although Darryl never identifies where it came from.Oh!There are widely accepted scales by psychologists,yes psychologists,to explain his views.Darryl just wants us to trust him.
The part on the Crash wasn't bad,which is why this gets 2 stars.Reading Michae
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot about Ayn Rand from this book. I also learned a lot about finance and financial markets. The book almost makes me want to re-read Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead- almost! The artwork is great and makes optimum use the limited color palette.
Todd Martin
Apr 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Age of Selfishness is a graphic novel that illustrates (of all things) the life of Ayn Rand, her influence on acolytes like Alan Greenspan, the rise of deregulation and free market fundamentalism and the economic collapse of 2008. The book is illustrated with simple, angular line drawings and connects the dots between Rand’s philosophy of objectivism and the morally bankrupt, short-sighted, winner-take-all mentality that nearly destroyed the global economy.

Rand possessed the personality of
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very well-done, clear and concise explanation of the financial catastrophe that culminated with the economic meltdown of 2008, and its roots in Rand's philosophy of Objectivism - which is (very simplistically) a belief in hands-off capitalism and individual rights at the expense of all else, and everyone else. Alan Greenspan was a disciple, and so are the Tea Partiers, the Libertarians, and the right-wing conservatives, which makes the current fad for promoting personal gain at the expense of ev ...more
Melanie Page
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A well-researched graphic work that links Rand to the financial meltdown of '08. The back is full of citations, so you have a reasonable assumption that while Cunningham's opinions are present in the book (this is not a straight report), that they are well-researched. The drawing style is very simplistic, and I wondered about the benefit of that (aside from the usual "this book is long, so I made simple drawings so I could actually finish it" argument).
Jeff Bartsch
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent and nicely simplified assessment of how our country got into its current shambles. I highly recommend reading it, and also recommend slyly leaving it out somewhere where your conservative uncle/parent/grandparent/friend might stumble upon it. This book should be required reading for high schoolers.
Maxine CD
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
The three chapters, which are on three distantly related topics, are interwoven perfectly. Ayn Rand's influence on Alan Greenspan and the economic policies that followed demonstrate the extent to which selfishness has been taken up, as a guiding virtue in the economic system. This helps explain the mechanics behind the 2008 financial crisis, discussed in part two of the graphic novel. I loved this section because I have struggled so much to understand how the crisis occurred and it was able to e ...more
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
When I think of Ayn Rand devotees, what jumps to mind are people who pretend to be far richer than they actually are and who attempt to find philosophical meaning in cheating on their spouses. This book is divided into three sections: a biography of Rand herself, an examination of the factors leading to the 21st-century financial crisis/housing collapse, and an examination of the psychological differences between liberals and conservatives.

The illustrations are the weakest link in this book. Se
Austin Storm
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
What a great idea for a comic book. Ayn Rand is already a larger-than-life villain, seemingly directly motivated by trauma she experienced early in life and completely uncompromising in her advocacy of 'selfishness'.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is a biography of Rand, which does a decent job of condensing things. The second is an overview of the 2008 financial collapse, which is also great.

Where things fall apart is in the third section, which attempts to be balanced in its pr
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well, it probably won't sway any Tea Party sympathizers, but an old liberal like me found Cunningham's book presents its facts in a clear manner, explains the vagaries of banking scams clearly and examines the psychological differences between liberal and conservative mindsets in a fairly even-minded way. The art isn't anything to write home about, but it's clear and conveys the necessary information.
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great investigation of Ayn Rand's life and ideas, how they influenced a lot of today's society, and the negative consequences of that. Well-researched and very thorough. The last chapter suffers a bit when the author goes out of his way to try to seem "balanced", but it doesn't compromise the whole. A great read!
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a highly-accessible, cause and effect explanation of the global financial catastrophe of 2008. I enjoyed the research shared in the third part of the book on ways in which liberals and conservatives are different. I highly recommend this book.
John Purcell
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A necessary reminder of the need to pull together to protect the values and rights many of us hold dear. Clear, concise and informative, The Age of Selfishness is a book the young need to read, the old need to read and the bastards need to read.
Carol Tilley
Oct 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Readable, informative, insightful! Cunningham does a splendid job of dissecting the current neoliberal / libertarian / Tea Party economics rhetoric and its consequences.
My review of this book is now up at The Comics Journal: ...more
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bought
A brilliant expose of the rottenness at the heart of her philosophy and the international capitalist conspiracy of greed.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anything that skewers Ayn Rand is a great book. I can't stand that self-centred bitch
Stacy Vpactionranger
May 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Clarifying, but depressing. It's nice to see a description of the housing bubble crisis that is understandable to the average schmoe.
Jon Nakapalau
Excellent overview of Ayn Rand and her influence on (in particular) economic policy.
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Michael Goodwin describes the fiction of Ayn Rand as "cartoonish," and Cunningham shows this is quite apt. It's pure fantasy that a court, at least in Rand's time, would have dismissed the charges against Howard Roarke. Perhaps now, if he were rich enough, they would have.

Cunningham makes Rand a pathetic figure, duped by her dishonest mother into giving away her toys on the false promise that they would be returned to her, kind of like when Congress, under the influence of Rand, took away people
Eric Piotrowski
As someone who has studied the 2008 crash for years, I didn't expect to learn much from this book. I was familiar with Rand's story and felt confident that I would breeze through this text quickly. While I did pat myself on the back several times when I reached something about which I already knew (Greenspan's "Flaw", for example), I learned plenty from this book, and enjoyed it tremendously.

Cunningham's art style is simple, but potent. He uses color imagery here to accentuate the elements of ea
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Good birds eye view summary of the financial crisis, glass steagall, and Alan Greenspan's earlier intellectual fertility with Rand's libertarianism. A comment on how Ayn Rand's emphasis on individuality leads to the absurd outcome of conformity due to selfishness as the primary virtue was interesting. Towards the end there are some sweeping generalisations on fitting the OCEAN personality model on Conservatives vs Democrats (and back home on UKIP/Tories vs Labour) and how Conservative values can ...more
Well, I wrote a great review (trust me!) which was erased...

Three a bio of Ayn Rand who is still bedeviling our country, years after her a detailed (yet understandable) analysis of financial practices that are directly based on her a supposed analysis of the difference between liberals and conservatives.

The first two were strong...enlightening.

The third was liberal=good. Conservative=bad. I recognized some of Haidt (THE RIGHTEOUS MIND) here, but he's not
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British Artist Darryl Cunningham is the creator of the web-comics, 'Super-Sam and John-of-the-Night' and 'The Streets of San Diablo'. Darryl's work can also be found at his blog and flickr page. His book Psychiatric Tales has been published by Blank Slate in the UK and by Bloomsbury in the US.

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