Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right

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9780195324877: Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right
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Worshipped by her fans, denounced by her enemies, and forever shadowed by controversy and scandal, the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand was a powerful thinker whose views on government and markets shaped the conservative movement from its earliest days. Drawing on unprecedented access to Rand's private papers and the original, unedited versions of Rand's journals, Jennifer Burns offers a groundbreaking reassessment of this key cultural figure, examining her life, her ideas, and her impact on conservative political thought.

Goddess of the Market follows Rand from her childhood in Russia through her meteoric rise from struggling Hollywood screenwriter to bestselling novelist, including the writing of her wildly successful The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Burns highlights the two facets of Rand's work that make her a perennial draw for those on the right: her promotion of capitalism, and her defense of limited government. Both sprang from her early, bitter experience of life under Communism, and became among the most deeply enduring of her messages, attracting a diverse audience of college students and intellectuals, business people and Republican Party activists, libertarians and conservatives. The book also traces the development of Rand's Objectivist philosophy and her relationship with Nathaniel Branden, her closest intellectual partner, with whom she had an explosive falling out in 1968.

One of the Denver Post's Great Reads of 2009

One of Bloomberg News's Top Nonfiction Books of 2009

"Excellent."
--Time magazine

"A terrific book--a serious consideration of Rand's ideas, and her role in the conservative movement of the past three quarters of a century."
--The American Thinker

"A wonderful book: beautifully written, completely balanced, extensively researched. The match between author and subject is so perfect that one might believe that the author was chosen by the gods to write this book. She has sympathy and affection for her subject but treats her as a human being, with no attempt to cover up the foibles."
--Mises Economics Blog

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About the Author:


Jennifer Burns is Assistant Professor of History at Stanford University. A nationally recognized authority on Rand and conservative thought, she has discussed her work on The Daily Show and Book TV and has been interviewed on numerous radio programs.

Review:


Selected as one of the Denver Post's Great Reads of 2009

Selected as one of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Reads of 2009

Selected as one of Bloomberg News Top Nonfiction Books of 2009

"Excellent."--Time magazine

"A smart assessment of Rand's life and ideas and how they influenced each other... As Ms. Burns successfully demonstrates, Rand's ideas have remained an important part of the American ideological mix, especially in how she honored the creative powers of American business in a free market to improve human lives. Ms. Burns' readers will see Rand still has the power to instruct on the meaning and scary implications of government growth in the age of Barack Obama."--Brian Doherty, The Washington Times

"Burns' thoroughly engaging biography of writer, philosopher, and all-around controversial figure Rand delves deeply into both Rands life and her fervent devotion to capitalism and individualism.... Burns' clear, crisp writing and piercing insights into Rand and her motivations make this eminently readable biography a must-read not only for Rand devotees but for anyone interested in the merging of literature and politics."--Booklist (starred review)

"Burns... spent 8 years researching the development of Rand's thinking and principles, and she has produced a terrific book--a serious consideration of Rand's ideas, and her role in the conservative movement of the past three quarters of a century, that is empty of academic jargon and accessible to those unfamiliar with Rand's life or ideas."--The American Thinker

"Burns... situates Rand in a rich intellectual and cultural tradition that predated the New Deal and eventually gave rise to a revitalized limited-government movement that culminated in figures such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Burns is particularly sharp at analyzing how Cold War conservatives such as Buckley rejected Rands rationalism but eventually benefited from her popularity with college students during the 1960s. Since the demise of their common foe, the Soviet Union, conservatives and libertarians increasingly find themselves at odds with one another over precisely the same issues that Rand and Buckley fought over decades ago. These range from questions about the proper role of religion in a secular society to whether the state should be used to restrict alternative lifestyles to the legitimate circumstances for military action."--Nick Gillespie, Wilson Quarterly

"What University of Virginia historian Burns does well is to explicate the evolution of Rand's individualist worldview, placing her within the context of American conservative and libertarian thought: from H.L. Mencken to William Buckley and later the Vietnam War... Overall, this contributes to an understanding of a complex life in relation to American conservatism."--Publishers Weekly

"Burns... thoroughly analyzes her ideas."--Jonathan Chait, The New Republic

"Burns has assembled a book that will interest anyone who was influenced by Ayn Rand. When a major academic publisher, like Oxford University Press, sets out to explore to the impact of Ayn Rand on American politics, that alone is a significant event... Jennifer Burns has produced a fascinating work. It is the first serious study of Rands ideas that had full access to Rands own papers. As such it is valuable. I would recommend all those interested in Ayn Rand, and Objectivism, to place their order for the book today."--Laissez Faire Books

"One of the most influential, most infuriating figures in the history of American conservatism has finally met her match. Goddess of the Market is both insightful scholarship and a compelling piece of writing. Jennifer Burns has created a model for intellectual biographers to follow."-- Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan

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