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ARB book subtitled "The Case Against the Brandens"

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The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens is a new book I just received information about since I'm subscribed to get updates from ARB.

It will soon be available at the Ayn Rand Bookstore, and includes the following description:

Preorder now! Expected shipment from the publisher in February 2005.

This explosive book lays to rest the myths about Ayn Rand's life and character that have been promulgated by her detractors. It is highlighted by extensive, never-before-published personal journal entries of Ayn Rand. These passages are immensely valuable, not only in revealing the claims of Rand's critics to be profoundly inaccurate and unjust, but also in showcasing her epochal mind at work resolving complex questions of personal life.

I'm curious what other people think about a book of this kind. Obviously we can't judge it fully without first reading it, but I think there are points that can be made based on the description and the general nature of the topic.

I understand that for the most part ARI has not really addressed this issue much, and I was under the impression that was because discussing it would only give some credit and publicity to the Branden biographies that they don't deserve.

On the other hand, it appears that this book will have new content that directly refutes some of the claims made (and I'd bet some of the many negative insinuations) in the Branden biographies. That could be of value in discrediting them.

Searching for the author's name on Ayn Rand Bookstore reveals only one other item: an interview with Leonard Peikoff. Does anyone know more about this author, or why this was written by him instead of one of the more established Objectivist authors who might have even first-hand knowledge of the Brandens? Was Mr. Valliant an Objectivist at that time?

Any other thoughts? (my initial reaction was "It's about time...")

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(my initial reaction was "It's about time...")

My sentiments exactly. One of the most frustrating things for me in talking with people has been the constant quoting of the Brandens to "prove" Ayn Rand formed a cult. It's been frustrating that ARI, and Peikoff in particular, have chosen to remain virtually silent all of these years. I'm glad that someone has finally written a book against the Brandens.

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It's been frustrating that ARI, and Peikoff in particular, have chosen to remain virtually silent all of these years. I'm glad that someone has finally written a book against the Brandens.

I would much rather see books like this one coming out. I'm not saying that you don't appreciate this either. I'm just illustrating why a book like The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics was not written by a Dr. Peikoff or a Dr. Mayhew; they're too busy producing positive material.

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I was lucky enough to have found Mr. Valiant's book about three years ago online, when it was little more than a long article, and so was able to read about half of it that day. It is truly excellent, and completely merciless towards both Brandens, not in an ad hominem way, but in a slow and careful disection of their books, and the consequent debunking of them both. Positive books about new subjects are important, but so are things which defend what already exists from very effective would-be destroyers. The Brandens' books can't touch me now, but they did plunge me into a year of depression when I was a newbie to Objectivism.

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The Brandens aren't the only ones out there attacking Ayn Rand. Murray Rothbard "hung out" with Ayn Rand's group back in the 50's I think because at the time he was running the Bastiat Society. Anyway, it's obvious, given his later writings, to see why there was a falling out, but his disciples like Hans Hoppe have turned it into a grand production about Rothbard's catholic wife being targeted by Rand, effectively asking Rothbard to get her to drop the catholicism or dump her. When Rothbard refused Hoppe says (who I assume was told by Rothbard since they worked together at the same university - UNLV - for some years before Rothbard died) that Rand's "collective" put him on a mock trial for his "crimes" and expelled him from their society.

I don't know what all the details are in reality but this story is absolutely fantastic and therefore very hard to believe. Rothbard also wrote a very unflattering short play where he made jokes at the expense of Frank O'Connor as a sheepish man dominated by his wife and people like Branden (who was Miss Rand's #2 at the time) as grand inquisitors. The play is really a piece of garbage, and if you are interested in finding it I think you can dig it up at Lew Rockwell's website. The point is that Rothbard's criticisms are childish but I've come across people who have been greatly influenced by them, especially this supposed hex by Ayn Rand (and obediantly taken up by her cult members - us presumably) on Mozart and Beethoven.

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The Brandens aren't the only ones out there attacking Ayn Rand. Murray Rothbard "hung out" with Ayn Rand's group back in the 50's I think because at the time he was running the Bastiat Society.

Rothbard is easier for any rational person to dismiss. The fact that his later writings are so different from anything Ayn Rand wrote is a sign that the falling out may have been over more than just a wife.

The Brandens, particularly Nathaniel Branden, on the other hand, are not so easy to dismiss considering the content of their books. Nathaniel Branden seemingly writes very rationally and, at first glance, seems to still be in adherance to the principles of Objectivism. It would be very easy for a person to read his claims against Ayn Rand and think, "Oh, maybe she did have a tempor tantrum."

Please don't take what I have said in the last paragraph to mean that I, in any way, endorse Nathaniel Branden. On the contrary, his mere affilliation with David Kelley was enough to make me seriously question him long and hard. The stories I hear of his infamous childish behavior seem only to confirm what I had long suspected: the man is far from telling the truth and will probably never tell the truth. This is quite a shame. His writings could have been valuable if he had a little more integrity.

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I was lucky enough to have found Mr. Valiant's book about three years ago online, when it was little more than a long article, and so was able to read about half of it that day. It is truly excellent, and completely merciless towards both Brandens, not in an ad hominem way, but in a slow and careful disection of their books, and the consequent debunking of them both. Positive books about new subjects are important, but so are things which defend what already exists from very effective would-be destroyers. The Brandens' books can't touch me now, but they did plunge me into a year of depression when I was a newbie to Objectivism.

Yes, I read it as well when it was online at Casey Fahy's now defunct website. It was superb in its rigour and logic, completely exposing the Brandens as frauds who had exploited Ayn Rand and Valliant did this using their own writings by pointing out the contradictions and inconsistency in and between them. It also touched on some of the other critics of Ayn Rand over the years. As others have pointed out, James Valliant (with two "l"), who I believe is a former lawyer interviewed Dr. Peikoff a few years ago. I assume that Dr. Peikoff was suitably impressed with Mr. Valliant via both the interview and the article, otherwise he would not have given him access to the never before published personal journals of Ayn Rand, in which she presumably details her most intimate thoughts and feelings. According to ARB the book is 433 pages long. The article I read at the time was probably no more than about 100 pages long, so the majority of the book is her own writing.

Like Free Capitalist, I was partly taken in when I read Barbara Branden's biography as a newbie Objectivist back in 1988. Though I continued to admire Rand, I would think to myself, that her ideas may be great but she did not quite live up to her own ideas in her personal life. I also met otherwise seemingly rational individuals, who might have been Objectivists, but considered Rand a "hypocrite". It was only somewhat later when I thought about it that I realized that Branden might have had an ax to grind. I never bothered with Nathaniel Branden, though I know people who did read him and described him to me as a self-confessed liar. I, for one, am looking forward to finally reading the other side of the story and to do justice to the greatest intellectual and personal influence in my life. I've already pre-ordered the book from amazon where for some reason it's expected only in May...

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As others have pointed out, James Valliant (with two "l"), who I believe is a former lawyer interviewed Dr. Peikoff a few years ago.  I assume that Dr. Peikoff was suitably impressed with Mr. Valliant via both the interview and the article, otherwise he would not have given him access to the never before published personal journals of Ayn Rand, in which she presumably details her most intimate thoughts and feelings. 

I also read the work Mr. Valliant published online a few years ago, in this connection.

In his preamble, he mentioned that Dr. Peikoff would not be on the side of any form of dignifying response to the Brandens.

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