We the Living: Anniversary Edition

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The time is the Russian Revolution. The place is a country burdened with fear - the midnight knock at the door, the bread hidden against famine, the haunted eyes of the fleeing, the grublike fat of the appeasers and oppressors. In a bitter struggle of the individual against the collective, three people stand forth with the mark of the unconquered in their bearing: Kira, who wants to be a builder, and the two men who love her - Leo, an aristocrat, and Andrei, a Communist. In their tensely dramatic story, Ayn Rand ...
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We the Living

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Overview

The time is the Russian Revolution. The place is a country burdened with fear - the midnight knock at the door, the bread hidden against famine, the haunted eyes of the fleeing, the grublike fat of the appeasers and oppressors. In a bitter struggle of the individual against the collective, three people stand forth with the mark of the unconquered in their bearing: Kira, who wants to be a builder, and the two men who love her - Leo, an aristocrat, and Andrei, a Communist. In their tensely dramatic story, Ayn Rand shows what the theories of Communism mean in practice. We the Living is not a story of politics but of the men and women who have to struggle for existence behind the Red banners and slogans. It is a picture of what dictatorship - of any kind - does to human beings, what kind of men are able to survive, and which of them remain as the ultimate winners. What happens to the defiant ones? What happens to those who succumb? Who are the winners in this conflict? Against a vivid panorama of political revolution and personal revolt, Ayn Rand offers an answer that challenges the modern conscience.

Ayn Rand's first novel which portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451187840
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: 60th Anniversary Edition
  • Edition number: 60
  • Pages: 464
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayn Rand published her first novel, We the Living, in 1936. Anthem followed in 1938. And it was with the publication of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged that she achieved her spectacular success.

Biography

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision that sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering authors such as Walter Scott and—in 1918—Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired.

During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and—in 1917—the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free men could be.

When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long a movie fan, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screen writing.

In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.

On Ayn Rand's second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were married until his death fifty years later.

After struggling for several years at various non-writing jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO Corporation, she sold her first screenplay, Red Pawn to Universal Studios in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was completed in 1933 but was rejected by publishers for years, until The Macmillan Company in the United States and Cassells and Company in England published the book in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels—it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny—We the Living was not well-received by American intellectuals and reviewers. Ayn Rand was up against the pro-communism dominating the culture during "the Red Decade."

She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the character of the architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as "he could be and ought to be." The Fountainhead was rejected by twelve publishers but finally accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. When published in 1943, it made history by becoming a best seller through word-of-mouth two years later, and gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.

Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel, Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged.

Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatized her unique philosophy in an intellectual mystery story that integrated ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles that make such individuals possible. She needed to formulate "a philosophy for living on earth."

Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy—Objectivism. She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for nine books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in her New York City apartment.

Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies are sold each year, so far totaling more than twenty million. Several new volumes have been published posthumously. Her vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth have changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.

Author biography courtesy of The Ayn Rand Institute.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Alice Rosenbaum (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 2, 1905
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Petersburg, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      March 6, 1982
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 75 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(49)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(7)

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(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 75 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2002

    Pinch me, was this book a dream?

    For the first sixty pages, I forced myself to read this book on a reccomendation from a friend. This books is so emotionally involving, you can't begin to let go of it even months after you have read it. Ayn Rand dipicts the life- or what was was left of it- of Kira Argounova with such vivid images, you want to reach out and save her. You cry, you laugh, and you want to kill all communists, but mostly you cry. Do yourself a favor and READ THIS BOOK!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 29, 2004

    An important reminder of what communism really is

    One thing there but often not noticed in Ayn Rand's other works is an amazing sense of the environment. One really feels like one is living in the world Rand creates. This is particularly noticeable in this book, and it gives the reader a great awareness of what it is like to live under communism. Not only are the results of communism evident, but so are clear links to the cause (the absence of human rights). On top of all this, We the Living has great characters whom we get to observe as they change (or not, in Kira's case) under the brutal regime.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2000

    A Bittersweet Symphony

    This book touched me deeply. It brought tears to my eyes during many pages. In reading this book, I gained enormous gratitude for the freedoms I enjoy and all who made those freedoms possible for me. I was also reminded of the strength of the human spirit.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2003

    You've Got To Start Somewhere

    The setting was very well done, but, unless you are reading solely to gain a better understanding of Ayn Rand and her writing, avoid it. I found most of the characters very annoying and infuriating throughout most of the book, and was happy when it was over. All of Ayn Rand's later novels showed MUCH improvement, and are recommended.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2010

    Disappointment

    I used to be a great admirer of Ayn Rand. In my youth, I was enthralled and inspired by The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Even now, I'm enjoying Anne C. Heller's biography, Ayn Rand and the World She Made. But We the Living is nothing more than an upscale romance novel. Characters are cardboard, plot is predictable, and style is at times embarrassing. Cover is nice, though.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2000

    A Great Depiction

    This book is about a young girls' views about living in Soviet Russia after the Civil War. I had to read this book for a Geography project, and though I wasn't thrilled, after I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. This wonderful author writes very vivid descriptions of horrible. Though very depressing, We The Living was a well written, true to life book. I woul reccommend it to anyone.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 1999

    One Against the World

    Written before The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, this novel does not define Rand's philosophical ideas as clearly as her later efforts. As an author, however, apart from any philosophy, Rand proved that she was as skilled as any. This is a love story, a story of the individual versus the collective, and a statement on man's right to life. A masterpiece.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Excellent

    First-hand account of communist Russia. Historical fiction.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2008

    Days of my life...wasted

    ¿We The Living¿ is Ayn Rand¿s first novel published in America. She wrote this novel after moving to America with her family in 1926. After personally reading this book myself, I feel like I have wasted several days of my life that I will never get back. Rand¿s novel is incredibly slow-paced for my taste. Her book drags out dialogue to an incredibly slow pace as if it was trying to stall for something. Her novel is riddled with parts that are boring enough to make anyone yawn until their jaw falls off. This book is not something that I would recommend to the younger audience. Throughout the novel, Rand uses sex and romance to try and hold your attention and persuade you to read further. I gave Rand the benefit of the doubt and kept reading. By page 350 I was about to drop the book and give up when finally, the story began to come to a head. Rand has disappointed me so much by this novel, I am not sure if I will ever even attempt to read another one of her books. The fact that Rand feels the need to use 433 pages to explain her views on communism already infuriates me. Rand could just as easily have expressed her views on communism and human nature in an essay. At least then I wouldn¿t have to spend days of my life trying to decipher her mind numbing philosophy on life. I am willing to forgive Rand for this novel, seeing as it was the first book she ever published but in the future I will expect a lot more from Rand.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2002

    The Unconquered

    This book is about a woman named Kira Argounova who tries to live in the tomblike atmosphere of Communist Russia. She does not break, she is not defeated, she remains an individual, and does not allow herself to be crushed by a collectivist society. It is also about two men, Leo the the defeated individualist, and Andrei, the collectivist who realizes that he has lived a lie. This book is a classic, it is touching and powerful. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what life under Communism or any other form of dictatorship is like to live under. It shows the hopelessness of the people trapped in the airtight tomb that is a dictatorship

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    One of my favorite books

    I read this book for the first time in middleschool. It was my introduction to russian literature. I reread it in late highschool. I've read atlas shrugged and the fountain head too but this one is my favorite. It isnt dripping with her infamous philosphy. Instead it is the beginning of it, her raw expression of what would become defining elements in her later work. Its been about 10 years and i am looking forward to giving it another read.

    PS dont let your middle school child read it. Im not even sure how i got my hands on it but my teacher was not thrilled with my book report and my parents got scolded. Lol

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2014

    A wake up call

    This book is not a love story a some people have commented. It is about the effects communism has upon those who are forced to live under it. You witness the slow painfull demise of even the greatest of people's will to fight for what they know is right. This book is, like rands other novels, prophetic and should be appied to america today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2014

    The word amazing does not do this book justice.

    This novel does not fall short of a pure master piece. I have read two other of Any Rand's novels, Atlas Shrugged and Anthem. As far as We the Living is concerned it clearly shows you how socialism stamps the life of the individual and forces the to comply for the benefit of the collective. Kira did not hold this belief because she saw herself as an individual who wanted to LIVE life after all the hardships she endured. Even after all these years and over 3 million copies sold,Ayn Rand is telling is all about the dangers of socialism and how it can seep through the cracks,.take root in society and wreak havoc and destruction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2014

    Are we headed in this direction?

    My favorite novel when I was twenty and still one of my favorites. Is this the direction we are headed as a country? While this is a work of fiction, it is full of glimpses of a socialist government. Love this author and this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Good

    History repeats itself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2012

    WE THE LIVING

    THE FIRST TIME I READ THIS BOOK I WAS 17 years old .THE SECOND TIME I READ IT I WAS NINETEEN YEARS OLD AND I WAS THEN IN CUBA AND WAS SEEING MANY THINGS HAPPENING THAT BECAUSE I READ THIS BOOK I KNEW WE WERE HEADING TOWARDS COMMUNISIM . THE SECOND TIME IT REALY MADE AN IMPACT ON ME.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    This book is fantastic!

    Captivating and fascinating

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    ¿

    ¿

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2011

    I am in awe

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    Entertaining

    No text was provided for this review.

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