What the critics had to say:
"Who was Ayn Rand? The answer emerges at last in a superb biography written with much of the sweep, drama and narrative momentum of the great works of Ayn Rand herself and with the psychological insight and sensitivity that forever eluded her. The author is Barbara Branden, for 19 years Ayn Rand's closest friend. Also the former wife of Nathaniel Branden, Rand's lover and leading apostle, she brings to the biography unique insights into the sexuality of this great writer. Working with some 50 hours of biographical tapes, she achieves a remarkable balance of intimacy and objectivity in telling the tempestous story of a flawed but heroic woman, who bore the moral defense of capitalism on her back like Atlas for nearly two decades, and never shrugged....Like every great thinker, [Ayn Rand] transcends her contradictions. In a world where most novelists lack any coherent philosophy at all, her work looms as a major triumph. Barbara Branden's own triumph is to show in full human detail the sources both of this achievement and its notable but ultimately venal flaws." George Gilder, Washington Post Book World
"When Barbara Branden's new biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, started to show up on the best-seller lists this summer, even her publisher was taken aback. There is not much excuse for this: apart from its appeal to Rand's admirers, it is a wonderful story, ranging from Rand's birth in Tsarist St. Petersburg through her escape from the Soviet Union to her triumph amid the skyscrapers of Manhattan, the city she always maintained was the supreme testament to the human spirit." Peter Brimelow, London Times
"As a long-time admirer of Ayn Rand and her works, I thought I already understood her; and I did not expect to like this book by her estranged friend and colleague. But in fact, I had not fully understood Ayn Rand and I loved the book. ... It is an epic tale of soaring ecstasy and searing pain, of unbelievable triumph and unspeakable tragedy. It is a story that will leave you scarred... and ennobled." Robert James Bidinotto, On Principle
"[Barbara Branden] is the only one who could have written this book. She was in Rand's inner circle from 1950 to 1968, and had 50 hours of Rand on tape, some of it used for an uncritical biography in 1962, Who is Ayn Rand? Rand would not cooperate with any other biographer. ... For those who have wondered just who Ayn Rand really was, there probably will be no better answer than this. This book is as much of a grabber as The Fountainhead." Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"A great self-therapy is evident throughout this biography. The author reflects a graciousness of perspective, a tolerance for misunderstanding, a balance of comprehension and forgiveness of tone that were painfully missing in her mentor. Though dedicated to Ayn Rand's spirit, this book is the triumph of her biographer's spirit." Philip K. McIlnay, Insight
"The Passion of Ayn Rand changes on page 256 from a carefully researched, thoughtfully written, very interesting biography into a piece of work that you cannot put down for the next 200 pages the kind of work that holds you with horrid fascination, makes you snicker out loud, and wake up the person sleeping next to you in the dead of night." Carolyn See, LA Times
We have reproduced the full text of Roy A. Childs, Jr.'s review for Laissez Faire Books.
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The Passion of Ayn Rand is available for purchase online from Amazon.com, as well as from your local bookstore.
Return to the introduction to The Passion of Ayn Rand.