My Years with Ayn Rand

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Previous Praise for Nathaniel Branden

"Relentlessly revealing. . . the myth of Ayn Rand gives way to a full-sized portrait in contrasting colors, appealing and appalling, potent and paradoxical. . . . it takes a special kind of nerve to write such a book."
Norman Cousins, author of Head First and The Healing Heart

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century-its popular impact ranked second only to ...

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Previous Praise for Nathaniel Branden

"Relentlessly revealing. . . the myth of Ayn Rand gives way to a full-sized portrait in contrasting colors, appealing and appalling, potent and paradoxical. . . . it takes a special kind of nerve to write such a book."
Norman Cousins, author of Head First and The Healing Heart

Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is one of the most influential books of the twentieth century-its popular impact ranked second only to the Bible in a major poll. Millions know Rand as one of this century's great thinkers, writers, and philosophers, yet much about the private Ayn Rand remains shrouded in mystery.

Who was Ayn Rand?

My Years with Ayn Rand charts the course of the clandestine, tempestuous relationship between the enigmatic author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and Nathaniel Branden-her young disciple and future pioneer of the self-esteem movement. In this book, discover the real Ayn Rand through the eyes of the man who became her soul mate and shared her passions and philosophical ideals.

Their tragic and tumultuous love story began with a letter written by Branden as an admiring teenage fan and Anded, more than twenty years later, with accusations of betrayal and bitter recriminations. My Years with Ayn Rand paints an unforgettable portrait of Ayn Rand-whose ideas, even today, can generate a maelstrom of controversy.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Dr. Branden's account of his complex relationship with the literary great . . . allows us a fascinating glimpse into the passions of their lives—intellectual and personal. . . . [It is] not only a memoir of a mythic woman . . . but a chronicle of a stirring intellectual commitment to a political morality that indivudally could only fail." (NAPRA ReView)

"What a story! It's heroic, romantic, deadly, horrifying, tender-and I couldn't put it down." (George Leonard, author of The Transformation and Education and Education and Ecstasy)

"Relentlessly revealing. . . the myth of Ayn Rand gives way to a full-sized portrait in contrasting colors, appealing and appalling, potent and paradoxical. . . . it takes a special kind of nerve to write such a book." (Norman Cousins, author of Head First and The Healing Heart)

"Non-stop theater. All the ingredients are there: conflict, colorful characters, suspense, and a Greek inevitability of tragedy born of hubris. There's a nexus of sex nearly dizzying in its permutations." (Dale Wasserman, playwright and screenwriter, Man of La Mancha and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)

"Branden plots his relationship with Rand from a psychological vantage point, with devastatingly articulate results. . . . A fascinating portrait of Rand and her disciples." (Kirkus Reviews)

"Do you know my greatest reward for 'The Fountainhead?' You." (Ayn Rand to Nathaniel Branden)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
According to this devastating and often heavy-handed critique, Ayn Rand, whose novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged exposed millions to her philosophy of virtuous self-centeredness and capitalist freedom, was an oppressive personality whose Objectivist movement demonstrated all the classic elements of a destructive cult (its messianic leader and its separation of group members from family and friends). Walker presents his subject as an arrogant, dogmatic bully who brooked no criticism and as a repressed narcissist who feared her own emotions and hid behind a glorification of reason. He concludes that Rand was no more than a third-rate pop-novelist of propaganda fiction and that her "vulgar Nietzschean" philosophy's obsessive concern with the overachiever--who requires protection via absolutized individual rights--contributed to the movement's cultish aspects. Walker also savages self-esteem guru Nathaniel Branden, who was Rand's protege and extramarital lover; their explosive breakup in 1968 pulverized the Objectivist movement, whose contemporary schisms and crosscurrents he ploddingly tracks. In a vitriolic chapter on Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan--a one-time member of Rand's inner circle--Walker unpersuasively contends that this banker's "inflation-obsessed" policies grew out of Rand's theories. Those who find Rand's self-styled philosophy outre may not find much of interest in this scathing, albeit clumsy, expose. Others will find it a useful corrective to the Rand mystique. (Feb.) FYI: Branden's tell-all account of his affair with Rand and his role in the Objectivist movement is being reissued in a new edition in March as My Years with Ayn Rand: The Truth Behind the Myth (Jossey-Bass, $19 480p ISBN 0-7879-4513-7). While he does criticize Rand personally, his treatment differs from Walker's in that he still reveres her as a philosopher.
Library Journal
Ayn Rand's novels and philosophy have been the object of widespread popular interest since the 1950s. After her death in 1982, there was a spate of biographical and critical interest; her popularity continues with a U.S. postage stamp and a television documentary, both scheduled for this spring. These two books offer divergent perspectives on Rand, her followers, and the Objectivist movement. Branden (The Art of Living Consciously, LJ 3/1/97) offers a revised version of his 1989 memoir. A personal account of his intellectual and romantic relationship with Rand and their famous break, it is useful for its insider's view of the Objectivist movement and may appeal to those interested in gossipy details of the protagonists' lives. While objectivity isn't expected in an insider's account, this memoir nonetheless lacks critical distance--even after nearly 50 years--and is marred by plodding narrative and wooden dialog. Canadian journalist Walker makes a more valuable and original contribution to Rand studies. He analyzes the Objectivist movement, Rand's leadership role, and the politics of her inner circle in terms of the cult dynamic. This analytical perspective avoids the common extremes of hagiography and vilification that mark many accounts of Rand's schismatic movement. Walker also does a credible job of placing Rand's ideas in the context of philosophies that preceded and followed her, and it offers insightful chapters on three of her major followers: Branden, Leonard Peikoff, and Alan Greenspan. His account is well researched and clearly written, though it is sometimes weighed down by an unsynthesized accumulation of detail. A solid contribution to 20th-century intellectual history.--Julia Burch, MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, MA
Branden provides an autobiographical chronicle of his tempestuous physical, emotional, and philosophical relationship with the influential Objectivist thinker who bitterly denounced him after their 18-year relationship fell apart. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787945138
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/26/1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 5.96 (w) x 9.15 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

NATHANIEL BRANDEN With a Ph.D. in psychology and a background in philosophy, Nathaniel Branden is a practicing psychotherapist in Los Angeles and a corporate consultant. Branden is the best-selling author of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, Self-Esteem in the Workplace, and A Woman's Self-Esteem.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note



Part One

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Part Two

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 13

Part Three

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17


The Author


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2000

    A man comes to terms with his past

    For anyone who has read Ayn Rand's novels and wondered what her real life was like, this is the book for you. Not a god,nor a Messiah, Rand was a brilliant but also very sexually overheated woman. Branden's own life story is fascinating and at times bizarre, this is a man who was giving challenging lectures on complex philosophical theories during the day, and indulging his lusts at night with his lovely wife AND his beautiful mistress AND with the Messiah herself, Ayn Rand. As a married, faithful man I can only envy Branden's adventures in the bedroom with exotic and highly educated women. But the book is not all highjinks and mating ritual, the ideas and philosophy explained and explored will blow your mind even more than the sex will. A fantastic book and a must read for all Ayn Rand followers----dare to question and investigate your beliefs!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2013

    This account by Rand's former collaborator, lover, and "int

    This account by Rand's former collaborator, lover, and "intellectual heir" (her words), gives his account of their tempestuous and incendiary affair - and a lot of details about being "present at the creation" of Objectivism. Much more interesting than the "lovers' spat" (for which Rand was as equally responsible as Branden, (if not more so, since she was the insistent initiator of the affair). But reading this book it will be quite clear why the two were attracted to each other. Branden was (and is) a provocative writer and an innovator in his own right as a psychological theorist (see his "The Psychology of Self-Esteem"). as a burgeoning philosophical movement. If you want to understand Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, and its relevance and meaning to today's world, it is best to turn to her own writings, such as Atlas Shrugged or her nonfiction books. If you wish to know more about her fascinating life, Nathaniel Branden's memoir and Barbara Branden's "The Passion of Ayn Rand" (recently released in an expanded 2nd edition) are indispensable. As are the two recent full-length biographical studies, "Goddess of the Market," by Jennifer Burns and "Ayn Rand And The World She Made," by Anne C. Heller - neither author is a worshipper nor a hater of Rand and give a more objective (but not "Objectivist") account. Interestingly, both accounts tend to corroborate, or are not in disagreement with, most of the facts as presented in both Barbara Branden's and Nathaniel Branden's books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2002

    Lies, Lies, Lies

    Branden lied about the 'break' with Rand in 1968, he lied to Rand herself for many years and about a great many things, and he persists in his lies about his various lies to this day. This work has been totally discredited by recent scholarship.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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