To understand the US far right’s intellectual underpinnings and resolve, you must know Ayn Rand, the influential Russian Jewish immigrant and author. This enigmatic woman’s ideas about reason, individualism, personal freedom and the importance of a free market shaped and continue to shape modern conservatism. Rand articulated a hero-role for the individual in her two best-known novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Her contempt for the altruistic and collectivist and her praise of individuality inspired business leaders. Rand – who died in 1982 – was as idiosyncratic as her novels’ protagonists and was seldom an ally to Republicans or libertarians. Author Jennifer Burns describes Rand’s bizarre private life, in which she tried to reconcile a new philosophy, an unconventional romantic vision and the emotional storms she created. getAbstract recommends this compelling biography as a great story and essential reading for those seeking to understand where the far right finds its convictions. As the Republican Party seeks an identity that’s paradoxically inclusive and traditionally conservative, Rand’s life serves as liner notes.
About the Author
Jennifer Burns is an assistant professor at Stanford University, where she teaches American political, cultural and intellectual history.