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Ayn Rand and the World She Made


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Reading Group Guide

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggested further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of Anne C. Heller’s brilliant biography, Ayn Rand and the World She Made.

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rollyson2002, August 5, 2012 (view all comments by rollyson2002)
Sensational popular novelist and cult philosopher for the American libertarian Right, the controversial Ayn Rand (1905-82) and her work have inspired an astounding volume of writing.  When she died, she was both heralded and excoriated for her uncompromising belief in individualism and capitalism.  An unabashed worshipper of male heroes who triumph over leveling, crippling influence creeds like socialism and communism, Rand inspired legions of readers to believe in what she deemed "the virtue of selfishness" (the title of one of her nonfiction books).  Although not stinting a concern with Rand's ideas, Heller is mesmerized by Rand the novelist and the person.  The biographer pores over Rand's early years in Russia with brilliant results, showing how much Rand (born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum) drew on her experience in the 1920s Leninist state for her impressive novel We the Living (1936).  Early on Rand projected an idea of America as a land of unfettered freedom where she could reinvent herself.  Heller's riveting depictions of Rand's marriage and her affair with a disciple half her age make this biography a worthy companion to Rand's still best-selling The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
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Della, January 6, 2012 (view all comments by Della)
This Ayn Rand biography is especially interesting becuse it contains quite a lot of material about her childhood, early life in Russia and even her early days in Hollywood. Since Ayn Rand(birth name Alice Rosenbloom) herself seldom talked about her family and early life and basically put the first 25 years of her life behind her, most people, even those who consider themselves objectivists don't know a lot about it. And what they do know is largely taken on Rand's own word.(For example, there's the assertion that she recieved no help in her early days. As Anne Heller discovered, Rand actualy recieved quite a lot of help from various people in her youth, especially relatives, but since that doesn't fit well into the individualistic narrative, most people don't know about it.) As Anne Heller points out, she's not an objectivist herself and not a fan of the Ayn Rand philosophy, and this gave her book a somewhat different persective than The Passion of Ayn Rand by Barbara Branden, also a fine book.
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vesiii5931, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by vesiii5931)
This answers so many questions of mine. Very well written.
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Product Details

Heller, Anne C.
Anchor Books
Heller, Anne Conover
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.98 x 5.24 x 1.2 in 1.215 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » Linguistics » Specific Languages and Groups
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Libertarian
Reference » Words Phrases and Language
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

Ayn Rand and the World She Made Used Trade Paper
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Product details 608 pages Anchor Books - English 9781400078936 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In this seminal biography, Heller traces the controversial author's life, from her childhood in Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution to her years as a screenwriter in Hollywood, the publication of her blockbuster novels, and the rise and fall of the cult that formed around her in the 1950s and 1960s.
"Synopsis" by , A passionate advocate of laissez-faire capitalism and individual rights, Rand remains a powerful force in the political perceptions of Americans today. This seminal biography examines the life and roots of the controversial author of "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged."
"Synopsis" by , A New York Times Notable Book

A Chicago Tribune Favorite Book of the Year

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year

Ayn Rand’s books have attracted three generations of readers, shaped the Libertarian movement, influenced White House economic policies throughout the Reagan years and beyond, and inspired the Tea Party movement. Yet twenty-eight years after her death, readers know very little about her life.


In this seminal biography, Anne C. Heller traces the controversial author’s life from her childhood in Bolshevik Russia to her years as a Hollywood screenwriter, the publication of her blockbuster novels, and the rise and fall of the cult that worshipped her in the 1950s and 1960s. Based on original research in Russia and scores of interviews with Rand’s acquaintances and former acolytes, Ayn Rand and the World She Made is a comprehensive and eye-opening portrait of one of the most significant and improbable figures of the twentieth century.

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