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My Years with Ayn Rand: The Truth Behind the Myths Paperback – 26 Feb 1999

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass (26 Feb. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787945137
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787945138
  • Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 3 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,277,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

"Dr. Branden′s account of his complex relationship with the literary great . . . allows us a fascinating glimpse into the passions of their lives––intellectual and personal. . . . [It is] not only a memoir of a mythic woman . . . but a chronicle of a stirring intellectual commitment to a political morality that indivudally could only fail." (NAPRA ReView)

"What a story! It′s heroic, romantic, deadly, horrifying, tender–and I couldn′t put it down." (George Leonard, author of The Transformation and Education and Education and Ecstasy)

"Relentlessly revealing. . . the myth of Ayn Rand gives way to a full–sized portrait in contrasting colors, appealing and appalling, potent and paradoxical. . . . it takes a special kind of nerve to write such a book." (Norman Cousins, author of Head First and The Healing Heart)

"Non–stop theater. All the ingredients are there: conflict, colorful characters, suspense, and a Greek inevitability of tragedy born of hubris. There′s a nexus of sex nearly dizzying in its permutations." (Dale Wasserman, playwright and screenwriter, Man of La Mancha and One Flew Over the Cuckoo′s Nest)

"Branden plots his relationship with Rand from a psychological vantage point, with devastatingly articulate results. . . . A fascinating portrait of Rand and her disciples." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Do you know my greatest reward for ′The Fountainhead?′ You." (Ayn Rand to Nathaniel Branden)

From the Inside Flap

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century-its popular impact ranked second only to the Bible in a major poll. Millions know Rand as one of this century's great thinkers, writers, and philosophers, yet much about the private Ayn Rand remains shrouded in mystery. Who was Ayn Rand? My Years with Ayn Rand charts the course of the clandestine, tempestuous relationship between the enigmatic author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and Nathaniel Branden-her young disciple and future pioneer of the self-esteem movement. In this book, discover the real Ayn Rand through the eyes of the man who became her soul mate and shared her passions and philosophical ideals. Their tragic and tumultuous love story began with a letter written by Branden as an admiring teenage fan and Anded, more than twenty years later, with accusations of betrayal and bitter recriminations. My Years with Ayn Rand paints an unforgettable portrait of Ayn Rand-whose ideas, even today, can generate a maelstrom of controversy. Previous Praise for Nathaniel Branden"Relentlessly revealing. . . the myth of Ayn Rand gives way to a full-sized portrait in contrasting colors, appealing and appalling, potent and paradoxical. . . . it takes a special kind of nerve to write such a book."--Norman Cousins, author of Head First and The Healing Heart"Non-stop theater. All the ingredients are there: conflict, colorful characters, suspense, and a Greek inevitability of tragedy born of hubris. There's a nexus of sex nearly dizzying in its permutations."--Dale Wasserman, playwright and screenwriter, Man of La Mancha and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"Branden plots his relationship with Rand from a psychological vantage point, with devastatingly articulate results. . . . A fascinating portrait of Rand and her disciples."--Kirkus Reviews" What a story! It's heroic, romantic, deadly, horrifying, tender-and I couldn't put it down."--George Leonard, a

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Format: Paperback
Readers should note that this book is a revised edition of Branden's 1989 memoir "Judgment Day". While it claims to be 'substantially revised', the revisions are not all *that* substantial. The many stylistic changes do make the book read better, and some less relevant sections have been deservedly excised.
Primarily, the book is altered so that Branden's associates from the period covered by the book are shown in somewhat more positive light. Allan Blumenthal, for instance, is no longer a quite conventional mama's boy; Barbara Branden is less clingy and shows up as a more autonomous individual. Her numerous affairs reported in the first edition are trimmed to a much smaller number.
Surprisingly, Barbara Branden is reported to have developed the concept 'psycho-epistemology', perhaps the key to Rand's aesthetics. This single fact should end any notion that Objectivism is all the ideas that Ayn Rand came up with and nothing else.
Nathaniel Branden is less self-aggrandizing in this edition, and he takes more of the blame for his failed first marriage and the personal disaster for many Objectivists which he helped cause. The portrait of Ayn Rand herself is little changed, which would make us wonder why bother with the second edition until we remember that this is not a biography of Rand but a memoir by Branden.
All in all, the book tells a fascinating story, and tells it rather better and more fairly than the first edition. But the changes, while interesting, are generally not radical and readers of the first edition should bear this in mind before they buy the current version. Those who have not read the first edition should definitely find this book of interest; it tells the very self-conscious story of a man, three women, loves of people, ideas, and their interrelationships, and how a something like a cult is formed and destroyed.
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Format: Paperback
Nathaniel Branden, one helluva brave and tenacious man, conducts us through the years of his relationship with the brilliant and impossibly difficult Ayn Rand, through the inception and growth of the Objectivist movement and the interactions of its central leadership, "the Collective." It's utterly fascinating to watch these giants of mind, ego, and wrongheadedness having at one another, rather like war among the dinosaurs. Branden spares no one in his recollections, himself least of all. This is both a period piece and a psychological exposition, and once fairly into it you can't put the daggone thing down.
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By A Customer on 15 July 1999
Format: Paperback
First of all, I haven't finished this book yet, and may not. I always neglect to read the fine print, and didn't notice that this was just an updated version of Judgement Day -- which at the time was quite an interesting book to me. Now, it wouldn't be, since I've already read it. Which pretty much sums up my thoughts on My Year's with AR. Without going to the trouble of re-reading Judgement Day, it seems to me that this newer version certainly contains some juicy tidbits that the first version didn't. But mostly, I am not interested in those since they seem to be centered mostly on the sexual affair of Branden and Rand -- which I am very UN-interested in. Rand was a mind, not a body, and for the most part, this is what Branden made love to. Rand smoked, did not a smidgeon of exercise, and must have in a most fundamental manner believed in the mind/body dichotomy -- since all she cared about at all was the mind. To me, sexuality also involves the physical dimension -- since this is what you are touching and feeling. I guess by wallowing in this repugnant affair Branden wants to vindicate himself from the hideous consequences to Frank, Ayn's husband, who was asked to leave the apartment, and his own bedroom, while Ayn had sex with Nate. Ain't that a cozy deal. Unfortunately, this theme seems to dominate the book. It insinuates itself into so many aspects of it that it is not only revolting, but tiresome. I must confess: Normally, I like Branden, and have managed throughout the years to harvest many substantially good ideas from him that have added value to my own life. But this book is a waste of time. Most especially so if you have read Judgement Day. It almost makes you think Branded just wants to pump out books, and this is not a good reflection on his other works.
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Format: Paperback
Persons who know the facts of the Objectivist movement's history (facts primarily ignored by the Michael Paxton film) will know that it was Nathaniel Branden who was the prime architect of the movement. Through courses offered by Nathaniel Branden Lectures, later Nathaniel Branden Institute, the philosophy of Objectivism qua philosophy was first taught to the world.
Those familiar with the basic outlines of Nathaniel Branden's eventful life will also know: that he and Ayn Rand met and became friends when he was going on 20 and she was 45; that some years later they began an affair with the consent of their respective spouses; that the dramatic end of their personal and professional relationship in 1968 had explosive effects for the entire Objectivist community.
Branden has previously told the story of his life and relationship with Ayn Rand in the controversial memoir *Judgment Day* (1989). The present memoir is an extensively revised and updated version of the earlier book. Even readers who have read (and reread) *Judgment Day* will be fascinated by the new insights to be gleaned. *My Years with Ayn Rand* is as spellbindingly written as the previous work but it presents a richer, more complete account.
This is a not-to-be-missed by anyone interested in Objectivism -- or simply interested in the engrossing story of some remarkable people.
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