It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand, 25th Anniversary Edition

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9780930073251: It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand, 25th Anniversary Edition

In It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand, Jerome Tuccille takes the reader on a “hilarious romp through the wild and kooky reaches of the libertarian right,” according to Publisher’s Weekly. Along the way he explodes many myths surrounding leading right-wing heroes, including Ayn Rand, Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, Jr., Ronald Reagan, and many others. He doesn’t spare himself from the satirist’s pen either, describing in detail his comic run for Governor of New York in 1974—an adventure that ended in near bankruptcy and personal turmoil. “[Tuccille] is damned funny. His book is a quick read; its pages turn quickly. This is pop history, not deep theory, so most of the pauses in the reading are caused by sudden bouts of laughter. What are we to make of a book that, when discussing Rand's comments about pollution, adds, ‘Ayn, you sweet, lovable, crazy bitch’? David Friedman wrote in his foreword to the 25th anniversary edition of this book: ‘If you are looking for a careful scholarly history of the libertarian movement... you had better look somewhere else. But for a vivid and entertaining picture of the early years of libertarianism, Tuccille's book has no equal.’” --The Colorado Freedom Report--www.freecolorado.com “Jerome Tuccille's classic history of contemporary libertarian politics is as informative as it is entertaining. Tuccille takes the reader along as he tells of his political conversion from Objectivist to Miscellaneous to Anarchist. He blends an element of mockery of the fringe in the political sphere with a genuine care for the people and events. I recommend it to anyone who is already familiar with the Libertarian world but needs a little education on the genesis of it.” --freemarket.net “Tuccille has got to be everyone’s favorite right wing individualist anarchist.” --Library Journal

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About the Author:

Jerome Tuccille is the author of the libertarian classic, It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand. He is the author of 30 books, including highly acclaimed, best-selling biographies of Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch, Alan Greenspan, and the Hunts of Texas. He has also written several novels. Tuccille’s biography Gallo Be Thy Name, a history of the Gallo wine clan and its roots in organized crime, was named one of the best books of 2009 by Reason magazine, and one of the best business books of 2009 by the University of California Library System. His biography Hemingway and Gellhorn, an account of the famous author’s relationship with his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, was produced as an HBO special in May 2012. Two of the author’s books—his true crime memoir, Gallery of Fools, and Kingdom: The Story of the Hunts of Texas—were optioned for feature films. The author is a vice president with T. Rowe Price, a major financial services firm. He previously taught at the New School for Social Research in New York City and is a former third-party candidate for Governor of New York. He is a member of Authors Guild and American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction by J.D. Tuccille

It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand has been surprisingly long-lived, developing a following well beyond what anybody would expect of a gonzo political book with a small original printing. I know this, because in a stab at low-cost cloning, my father gave me the same name that he sported and I've always lived in big-name urban areas while my parents dwelt in suburban seclusion; as a result I've fielded my father's fan mail for all of my adult life.

I did get the last laugh, though, when I swiped one of his utility bills to get out of jury duty. So why did this book grow such long legs? Well, in years of pawing through letters and email about Ayn Rand, I've come across some common threads. One involves requests that I mail copies of the book to addresses in Australia and Germany. Apparently, the two countries share one dog-eared copy and would like another to hand around. I hope that this reprint satisfies that request.

But along with the intercontinental mail orders was a strong appreciation of the book on two levels. The first, from readers who found Ayn Rand early on and appreciate a familiar sense of the lone voice in the wilderness. They'd spent years huddling in ideological isolation, tagged by acquaintances on the coasts as atavistic heirs to Neanderthal man and by heartland neighbors as pinko subversives (finally accomplishing the left-right fusion that so many freedom-minded people had long-sought). Tales of similar suffering through the lonely years of the libertarian movement's foundation soothed a bit of the residual sting.

The other messages came from readers who'd come of age as the libertarian movement gained a certain ... well ... not maturity, but momentum. Unlike earlier readers, they hadn't had to suffer through idiotic legislation and intrusive regulation in frustrated solitude; they'd had like-minded friends to be frustrated right alongside 'em.

To these newer readers, Ayn Rand gave a sense of continuity, a connection to an age when now-hallowed scholars and leaders called each other filthy names in each others' living rooms; when Murray Rothbard purged deviationists and a pre-Wired Lou Rossetto gave the black power salute on the Columbia campus. A time when Galambosians (whatever happened to them?) and their ilk constituted much of the pro-freedom foot-soldiery and the spirit of Ragnar Danneskjold reined.

That connection to the early free-wheeling radicalism of libertarianism stands in stark contrast to the relatively sober and clean-shaven movement of today. After years of striving-- with good reason-- for a modicum of respectability, the ranks of think tankers, jacket-and-tied magazine editors and prize-winning economists has swelled impressively. Anybody who has nodded off while sipping white wine and discussing corporate welfare at a think tank meet-'n'-greet knows just how successful libertarians have been in raising a new crop of sane, stable activists. Well, in relative terms, anyway.

But progress towards trimming the tentacles of the state has been grindingly slow, with two tentacles sprouting for every one cut away. With the so-called "Republican Revolutionaries" of the U.S. Congress neutered, whupped and sent home hungry, the respectable road to freedom promises to be a frustrating path for people who'd already been drawing up floor plans for their new homes in Galt's Gulch. Even so, most young libertarians are willing to buckle down and put in the time that it takes-- to crank out the research pieces, to run professional political campaigns and to play reasonable talking head across a TV frame from perfectly coifed Stalinists.

But others, here and there, feel that need to be just a little dangerous again. They want to have some fun, to call the good senator at 4 a.m. for a chat about his vote, to wave good-bye to the nice IRS agent as he leaves the audit with a bag of dope carefully slipped into his briefcase, to lean forward in front of the studio audience and say, "Oh yeah, Pat? Let's rumble."

In a post-Reagan world where wide-spread anti-government sentiment co-exists with metastasizing tax bills, White House enemies lists, planned community growth and the Waco massacre, these young, agitated activists want to do something, but they combine a merciful sense of the absurd with their outrage. The outrage sees the world for what it is, as anti-crime measures are used to justify currency, travel and employment controls that can turn even the simplest encounters with officialdom into the equivalent of a body cavity search. Even at the time that Ayn Rand was written, who would have imagined that a routine job interview could ever involve the discussion of bodily fluids? Hell, I still don't want to imagine it- -but like most of my contemporaries, I do have to submit to the damned urine drug tests. Then there's the conversion of the Social Security number into the tracking beacon of modern life-- we've all been numbered, tagged and released into the wild. Want to escape the scrutiny? There's always emigration--or nuts and berries in the Rockies. Given the circumstances, outrage is almost a mild reaction.

But outrage by itself is no fun--it creates lousy drinking buddies and tends to lead to embarrassing large-point headlines or, at least, lots of running around in the woods wearing mis-matched camouflage. A sense of the absurd allows room for humor as yet another item in the top dresser drawer becomes illegal. The absurd lets me take a new boss' advice for beating the urine test-- the same boss who'll can me if her recommended technique fails. It also allows for a sense of perspective when escapades in the underbrush beckon. When the latest solid policy proposal by our sober think tank colleagues gets converted by the congressional meatgrinder of ideas into a plan for laying asphalt across a committee chairman's district, absurdity is an absolute necessity.

And It Usually Begins With Ayn Rand supplies a healthy dose of the absurd. It's radicalism with a banana peel, a manifesto as written by Groucho that's both a healthy complement to the patient activists in suits and an antidote to the absurdity of modern life. For the impatient freedom-lover, it's a call to arms and a reminder that jihad is probably not the way to go. And somewhere in all that it strikes a real chord. I should know, because I'm still fielding the fan mail.

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