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Ayn Rand (Overlook Illustrated Lives)by Jeffrey Britting
Synopses & Reviews
A vivid and concise biography packed with stunning, rarely seen photos of one of the twentieth century's most popular and influential novelists. Ayn Rand made a profound impact as both a philosopher who founded a school of social thought, Objectivism, and as a novelist of penetrating insight and vision. Her works are founded on heroic ideals, demonstrating the maxim that, "man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress." The photos and illustrations in this volume have been hand-selected from the Ayn Rand Archives, and most have never been published. They include personal mementos of a Petersburg childhood, her family and their home on Nevsky Prospect; photos from her early years in America; personal papers, including her list of the twelve publishers who passed on The Fountainhead; original newspaper articles, film posters, notes, drawings, and much more. In a recent poll conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club, Rand's Atlas Shrugged was voted the novel most influential to American readers. This latest volume of the acclaimed Overlook Illustrated Lives series gives her legions of fans an unprecedented chance to better understand the author they adore.
"At age nine, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) decided she would be a writer, and she achieved that goal with a speed and success most aspiring authors only dream of. (She published her first novel, We the Living, at the age of 28.) Britting, who produced the Oscar-nominated documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life and is now an archivist at the Ayn Rand Institute, delivers her biography in short, manageable chapters that cover an average of 10 years each. Born in Russia in 1905, she immigrated to America as a young woman and worked in Hollywood film studios and theaters while trying to get her writing published. Like many authors, Rand experienced her share of initial rejection, but she soon became well known for controversial novels (i.e., The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged) that advanced her intensely individualistic philosophy. Britting's writing is lively and engaging, and he doesn't dwell on any single subject more than another. Anyone looking for an in-depth analysis of Rand's thinking or of the fascinating periods in her life that Britting touches on, such as her role giving testimony for the House Un-American Activities Committee, should look elsewhere, but as a quick, general primer, this book does the job admirably. It features an impressive array of photos, many of which are published here for the first time, as well as reproductions of book jackets, letters, notes and artwork, which add richness to the narrative. A proponent of individualism and selfishness, Rand herself would no doubt be pleased with this to-the-point overview of her life and achievements. 50 color and 70 b&w illustrations." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Rand is best known for Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, novels framing her Objectivist philosophy of rational self-interest. With many previously unpublished archival images selected from the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, CA, the Institute's archivist traces Rand's life (1905-82) on the centenary of her birth. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (shown) was part of her inner circle. Not indexed.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Jeffery Britting was associate producer of the documentary film Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary. Since 1993, he has been archivist at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, California.
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